Some Things Are Just Good To Know

somethingsarejustgoodtoknowIt was warm this morning at 4:30 when I started running on the track. I had a plan for my workout but ultimately I was wading into uncharted waters. All I knew was that when it was all over, I would have learned a few things, and some things are just good to know.

The goals for today were simple. 20 miles ran on the track with my heart rate capped at 145, which is an easy/moderate effort for me. It’s in my aerobic zone, or to explain it more simply, a pace and effort at which I can run and still hold a conversation.

Although it was a training run, and it was about running, the truth was the run was more about stress for the brain than anything else was. I have never run 20 miles on track before and I think the most ever might have been 12 at one time. Sure, I have run 20 miles plenty of times in my life, too many to count, but on a track things are different.

You can’t hide out on a track, there are no ups, there are no down, it is just what it is, a track. For me the track is a perfect universe not unlike a pool table where nothing ever happens by accident and where the laws of geometry and physics prevail. The track is truth and it holds you to a certain level of honesty as well.

The track can be boring, no doubt. It is never as bad as running on a treadmill, but it can be damned close. Facing down 20 miles or around 80 laps can be daunting to try to comprehend, but like any other run or race, it all comes down to doing it one mile at a time.

Like I said, it wasn’t about running or the physical act of running, it was about managing the mind. The mind that would be rebelling against the task, seeking out reasons to call it quits, while complaining about it all at the same time.

When it comes down to that is what most running is… it’s managing the mind and I don’t care which distance or which pace or speed you run at, there will come a point when the mind says, “No more!” Of course, that is always a lie as we can always outrun our brains, so the game becomes keeping it busy with other things and distracting it as much as possible.

My thoughts for the morning included the following:

  1. After the first mile I was thinking, “great, only 19 more to go… ugh.”
  2. I thought a lot about my next race in 5.5 weeks and my strategies for racing it. This took up a lot of time but I could never hold the subject for too long before my mind would wander off into other subjects.
  3. 3.33 miles down! Yay! I am 1/6th of the way there!
  4. 5 miles down! Yay! I am 1/4th of the way there!
  5. My mind wandered into lesser healthy waters… thoughts of things that have me stressed… tenants… bills… clients… (Okay quick! Get back to other thoughts!)
  6. 6.66 miles down! Nice… I am 1/3rd of the way there now… ugh…
  7. Geez, I still have another hour before our Tuesday morning group shows up. I wonder who will be here today?
  8. Great! The sun is finally coming up! I can ditch the headlamp!
  9. With all of this bear crap I am seeing on the track this morning I hope I don’t see a bear. That would really foul up my splits!
  10. Dear god… 10 miles… I’m only halfway there! Am I going to be able to hang on for another ten? Starting to feel a little fatigue…
  11. How am I going to find the subcontractor I need for the project in September?
  12. I sure do love this Darth Vader shirt that my daughter Annie got me. I can’t wait to see her next week!
  13. 15 miles… crap! Five more to go… damn I’m bored.
  14. HEY! People are here! YAY! I’m not alone anymore. They probably think I am crazy. LOL!
  15. 16 miles… oh man… this is starting to really hurt. My splits are good though I will come in under my goal time for certain. Maybe. If I don’t blow up.
  16. 17 miles… just a 5K to go… do I really need to run another three miles? Really?
  17. 18 miles… damn, just eight more damned laps around the track and I am done. Eight laps sure does seem like a lot!
  18. 19 miles… OMG, I am almost there… four laps to go. Don’t push it, keep steady, don’t speed up, stay relaxed. You are almost there…
  19. 20 miles! HELL YEAH!!!! I did it! I didn’t DIE!

So you can see it was all about managing the mind and to be honest, I didn’t know if I had it in me to pull that off for 20 miles restricted to running in oval laps. A trail run is easy, or even a road run of 20 miles because there are many visual stimuli to keep you entertained. This morning I had virtually nothing especially since ½ of the run was done in the dark.

It was a test and I passed it with flying colors I believe. Yes, I went into the workout this morning with the intention of getting in 20 miles, but more important than that I wanted to know if I could do it all on a track. What I really wanted to know was how my brain would process it all and IF my brain could process it all. It did and as I said, this is one of those good things just to know.

Many times our goals and the meeting of those goals has nothing to do with the actual achievement but more to do with what we learn about ourselves in the process. Can we really do a thing or not? Can we stick to it when we really don’t want to? It is from these kinds of challenges that we learn the most about ourselves and in the end, some things are just good to know.

And if you are still reading and even care… I ran the 20 miles in 2:37:32 with an average heart rate of 144 while averaging 7:53 per mile. It was a huge success.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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  1. […] This is exactly why I run some of the loop workouts and timed runs.  They’re mental exercises that make me stronger for the real physical ones. […]

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