Something huge happened to me yesterday.
Like SUPER huge!
I ran 9.3 miles with NO IT band pain whatsoever. Not even a little reminder from it saying “hey, don’t get too excited, I’m still very finnicky and am ready to take you down at any minute!”
I know to a lot of you this doesn’t seem like a big deal. To my fellow runners 9 miles is probably peanuts, and to those that don’t run I’m sure 9 miles (roughly 14.5km) just seems like torture, regardless of whether there’s IT band pain or not.
But believe me when I say this is like the greatest thing that’s happened to me since I discovered how amazing an almond dipped in peanut butter then stuffed into a date that’s dipped in more peanut butter tastes (which, by the way, is pretty freakin’ amazing).
I haven’t had a pain-free run of this distance since probably early July of last year. After all my IT band issues started in the last few weeks of my Seawheeze training, I’ve constantly been struggling with making it past 10km without any pain. Even when things started getting better this Spring after months of physio, the furthest I got without any pain was 8 miles.
What was different about today’s run was my mindset. I had a bit of a revelation while I was out for a quick 2-miler on Saturday morning. I was running along the Seawall (which is a big no-no according to my physiotherapist) and it was a beautiful, cool morning.
It was only the second time I’d been out on the Seawall for a run since last summer and there were SO many other runners of all different sizes and abilities out. I exchanged “good morning”s with many of them, while others were too far in their “zone” to notice anyone else. I could tell that some had been running longer than I’ve been alive and others were just starting out.
At that moment I felt so GRATEFUL to be able to be outside running, even though it wasn’t as far or as fast as I’d like. When I’m running non-stop 10km is about as far as I can get before my IT band craps out on me, and that’s a heck of a lot more than lots of people can do, either by choice or due to physical limitations. And besides, the run portion of an Olympic tri is only 10km 😉
On Saturday morning I decided I was no longer going to let my injury get the best of me. I wasn’t going to get discouraged if I had to cut a run short, I wasn’t going to get frustrated by all the extra time warm-ups and cool-downs take, and I wasn’t going to let myself get jealous when other runners passed me and I felt like speeding up.
I went out today with no expectations. I wasn’t anticipating a flare-up, but I also wasn’t expecting to finish the full 9 miles. Basically I was neutral about the whole thing. During my quest for distance the past few months I’ve tried walk/run intervals and just running at a substantially slower pace than what I’m used to, both of which didn’t do the trick.
So today I decided to go back to the intervals, but instead of run at my regular pace like I did last time, I opted to stay slow. And it worked!!
I was averaging 11:41min/mile which made for a pretty long run, but the weather was gorgeous so I took it as an opportunity to enjoy my city and work on my tan 😉 I listened to some good beats and got a lot of planning and thinking done that I’ve been needing to do for awhile.
When I started running four years ago I never set out with any time goals. Hell, I didn’t even track my distance for the first year. I went out because it gave me a chance to explore my surroundings (I was living in the Yukon at the time) and it allowed me to be alone with my thoughts at a time when I was self-conscious about my introverted-ness and felt the need to be surrounded by people all the time, even though that wasn’t really what I wanted.
I’ll of course still continue training for my half marathons and triathlons (during my revelation on Saturday I also decided I would do an Iron Man by 2020???), but I’m going to really work at keeping the “must go faster, must beat everyone” out of it.
One of the biggest struggles that’s often written about in fitness journeys is pushing yourself to get up and go and keep the momentum going when you really don’t want to. But another challenge that’s often overlooked is holding back and keeping yourself in check when you just wanna GO. Especially for a competitive perfectionist such as myself 😉
This applies to everything in life. Maybe you have all these great ideas you want to pursue and haphazardly try to bring them all to life at once. By practicing patience and not letting the ego decide that EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE RIGHT NOW you can focus on one thing at a time and make each idea a totally kickass possibility.
When you’re trying to lose weight it’s normal to want to do it the fastest way possible. “Cardio for two hours? Suuuuure why not.” “Skip dinner? Okay!” “Green tea CLA ketone cleansing pills that will make me lose 10lb in 5 days? BRING ‘EM ON!”
But by giving into these notions you set yourself up for disappointment. You might lose a couple pounds to start with, but have you learned anything about how to keep it off? And more importantly, are you doing your body more harm than good? Patience really is a virtue, and is something that must be practiced in all areas of our lives.
When I head out for my 10-miler next week I’m going to keep all these things in mind. When I’m feeling good for the first 5 or 6 miles I’m going to resist the temptation to pick up the speed during my running intervals. When streams of people pass me during Seawheeze I’m not going to get upset, or jealous, or secretly hate them for running faster than me. I’m going to be grateful that I have the opportunity just to be out there.
How about you, readers? Have you ever struggled to hold back and keep yourself in check when you just want to barrel through the gates? Do you ever catch your ego getting the best of you?
Quick side note: if any of you reading this are in the Vancouver area and would like to join me for a fun adventure on Sunday August 10, please feel free to join the first of many Fit Chick Frolics! I hope to connect my friends, clients, and complete strangers with one another so we have a badass network of fit chicks who share similar interests, experience similar struggles, and will understand one anothers’ accomplishments! (Because really, do the non-fitness-oriented individuals in our lives really care that we killed that fartlek, or that we PR’d our deadlifts?)