I'm trying to explain and thus move toward changing my negative mindset, not just be excessively pessimistic or whiny here. You've been warned.
I was coming off a very good 10K training run on Saturday, wishing I'd signed up for Broad Street, thinking perhaps a fall marathon was a good idea after all. Tired, sore, but feeling like I was ready to chase some PRs at my upcoming 5K, 8K, and 10K.
Just a few days later, it's hit me in the face what a shadow of my former running self I am right now. I had easily the worst run of the comeback tour, a 28-minute 3 mile where you name it, it probably hurt. Sore calves, like I was having before my layoff, trouble breathing, creaky knees, aching lower back and even a hitch in my stride (dragging the left foot on the ground too much) that I don't think is usually there.
I'm prone to excessive self-doubt and criticism after a bad run, which really doesn't make sense with my rather casual approach to training. So even as one side of my brain is thinking "You couldn't have gotten 5 miles tonight, you're in trouble" another part knows "you always do this after a bad run, it's never as bad as you think it is (you dummy)." As much as I am critical of Andy Reid in his coaching of my favorite football team, one of his mantras that I need to re-appropriate in my running is to "never let yourself get too high after a win or too low after a loss."
I had a bad run; but the Garmin gets set back to zero and I have a clean slate either way when I hit the road on Thursday or Friday. Knowing something is nothing to worry about is easy for me; making the transition to actually not worrying about it has always been a challenge. The easy workaround is to probably avoid the night running -- in which I don't use a music player -- until I'm feeling consistently stronger and more comfortable at 5-6 mile distances. Let Van Halen drown out the negative thoughts.
I think it's going to be a challenge for me to main perspective this year. Last year was far and away the best year of my career: first two marathons, a very good season of 5Ks, a significant mile PR within striking distance of 6:00; and one of 2 or 3 best races I've ever run to cap the year. I'll achieve much less this year it looks like, and even though I'm pretty sure I don't love the marathon, I don't think I'll feel like I'm all the way back until I finish another one.
But I can't let myself think like this -- and there's no reason to. Throwing out for a second that I'm missing Shamrock, I'll probably finish March at about the same place that I did last year, 6-7 mile training runs and no long races on the immediate horizon. With that in mind, this really is a minor setback and I just need to be more positive. My goal, totally unquantifiable of course, for the rest of March is to just try to enjoy each and every run for its own sake, without any concern for where it fits into a larger training plan or how they compare to each other or to last year.
Rediscover the fun.
I know...this post definitely requires at least one adorable kitty picture.