Thursday, June 25, 2009

Training in the Heat - An Exercise in Willpower

The goal for last night's training run was to do 3 miles in 10:30 to 10:50 range. Fast for me, the typical 12-12:30 pace runner. It's also almost 100 degrees in the evenings now when I run. And it doesn't look like that's going to end soon. I also wasn't feeling great, a hip was feeling a little tweaked, and at the last minute I was doing this run on my own because my training partner had to cancel. Not looking good...

Mile 1 felt good, doing a 10:36. I was happy that the around-10:30 pace is starting to feel easier, even in this heat. I must be getting faster.

Half a mile into mile 2 and the heat is getting to me. I'm miserable. I've been weaving up and down through the many streets in my neighborhood and realize as I'm closing in on the end of Mile 2 that I can either go left and go home....or go right and be at the entrance to the neighborhood. Our neighborhood has a 5 foot tall brick and stone wall running down the main road with the only entrances on either end of the community. So I head for the entrance, using a trick my friend Sarah had recently taught me. If there's no physical way to get home sooner, you can't wimp out on finishing the run! Mile 2 is a 10:56.

So I'm dragging myself along down the busy street with that brick wall on my left. My pace and form improve as there's more traffic here and I obviously don't want to look like someone who needs 911 called on me. I want people in their cars to pass by and think "Wow, there's a real runner". I am lucky that running speed is hard to gauge by a car going 45 mph, and I want to make this look easy, even though I'm feeling so far from that. In fact, my brain goes to that nasty place where it wants to know why we are doing something so insane as a hard run in this heat, and I'm starting to think that 5 foot tall brick wall doesn't look so bad - I could scale that - I could find a way over that wall to make this run "be over".

I approach the other entrance to the neighborhood and "uh oh" I'm getting too close to home too fast.

I don't want to stray too far away and end up lengthening my run or having a long hot sweaty walk back. So I turn it into a game. This entire run has felt like a test, wanting to quit most of the time but working on pushing myself when I'm feeling not so great anyway. So I head down the street parallel to my own, come around the corner, and come within 100 yards of my house. I can see it. I still have 0.3 miles left to make 3 miles.

And that's when I prove I have better willpower than I would have had 6 months or a year ago. I turn right around and head away from the house back up that parallel street and go finish my 0.3 miles, so I can have another 0.3 mile walk back to the house to cool down. Mile 3 finished in 11:25.

All 3 miles still ahead of the 11:30 pace I'll have to be able to do to break 2 1/2 hours this fall. So good training, even if not all perfectly in that 10:30 to 10:45 goal I was intended to do. Done in 32:56, average pace of 10:59.

I was really proud after this run for sticking with it. It's just so easy to quit. And last night I didn't. A major reason I love running - it's always an opportunity to challenge and test ourselves!


  1. I love reading your blog, you inspire me to go out and run, even when I don't feel like running.
    I know for sure that by Fall you'll be running at a pace faster than your goal, I used to have Roger Foster as a marathon training coach a few years ago, and every time I complained about the heat and running, he'll said, keep running, once the heat is gone, you'll be running strong, like a bull!!!

  2. Glad to have found your blog to follow. I needed to know there were other runners out there like me. Your writing is inspiring and funny and I really appreciate it.
    Tammy O'Nan

  3. Thanks, Blanca and Tammy! I think we're all put here to inspire each other and thank you both for inspiring me!