Friday, March 1, 2013

High-altitude running.

I know I was trying for the whole write-a-post-once-a-week thing. But that obviously failed.

New March goal: blog more.

Okay. Glad I got that out of my system.

Anyway, like I mentioned in my last post, I went to Denver to visit some friends. I was a little nervous about running there. I have lived at sea level for my entire life so traveling to 6000 feet is always an interesting experience. When I visited last year (during one of my many breaks from running), I couldn't even get through a single mile. Completely pathetic.

So I went into this run with only a mileage goal in mind and ZERO expectations about pace, how I would feel, whether or not I would pass out and scrape my face on the treadmill belt, etc.

There is a gym in the apartment complex where I stayed, and what should have been a 2 minute walk took literally 10 minutes. It was basically a blizzard outside. (or at least that's what it was in my Californian mind) I was almost up to my knees in powder and there were crazy gusts of wind coming right at me. I can't breathe when wind is blowing on my face (apparently babies will hold their breathe when air is blown on their faces - I guess I never grew out of that?), so I pretty much had to walk backwards the entire way. I couldn't find the sidewalk and almost killed myself on some curbs, so I decided to walk in the street. Talk about a really easy way to get hit by a car. But I survived. I guess natural selection doesn't always work.

My view while running. This was the shallow end of the snow.

I'm going to preface what I'm about to say with a little explanation about my personality. I am the kind of person that will do exactly what I set out to do. I (usually) have very high expectations, so the fact that I don't go beyond what I originally planned is (usually) not a problem. But if I set a goal, no matter how easy or painful, I will do it, and not any more or less.

When I started running, I had decided to run 1 mile and take a 0.25 mile walk break, and repeat that until I finished my miles. When I got close to 1 mile, I realized that I actually felt really good (compared to how I felt last time I attempted to run in the Land of No Oxygen). So I decided to go a little bit further until I didn't feel quite as good. Straying from my original plan is fairly contrary to how I normally operate, but I decided to go with the flow.

On the next run, I decided to keep up the pattern from the first run. But by the time I got to the point where I took a walk break on the previous run, I realized that I was still feeling all right - so why not keep going? It was scary and exhilarating, but since I decided that I didn't have a good reason to stop, I didn't stop. And then on the next run, I pushed a little farther. And on the next one, I pushed a little farther. I may have pretended that I was Shalane Flanagan running a marathon...but you gotta do what you gotta do to get through it, right?? I can't be the only one who does this. It helped me destroy the (boring) treadmill runs and I walked away feeling like a badass.

Anyway, so this post is about the little voice in your head that says you can do it. It's the little voice that says, "Why not?" And it's the little voice that is probably a heck of a lot quieter than the loud, obnoxious part of your brain that tells you to play it safe, to stop when it hurts, and to be comfortable. Sometimes you just need to listen to the little voice that tells you to keep going. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own heads and we don't stop to look at the situation as it really is. I think sometimes, and this applies to more than just running, we need to take a step back and look at our reality, instead of our perceptions, and make decisions based on the current situation and not what we think or want it to be.


Do you live where it snows? (Pretty much anywhere that isn't California or Florida...)

What do you do to beat boredom on the 'mill? I stare at one spot in front of me and focus on my music, my posture, and my breathing. I really wish I could watch TV on the treadmill, but for some reason I just can't focus on the TV and run at the same time.

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