This past week I ran 12 miles. Six of those miles were yesterday morning, maintaining a pace of 11:16. I’ve been setting my treadmill runs to 5.2 and 5.3 miles per hour, and I know that running outside versus inside in a controlled environment are two different things. My goal with the speed was to maintain treadmill pace outside.
To my pleasant surprise, I pulled it off. And then I developed a headache. Rather than go home and sleep like smart people would do, I decided to get home, shower and get up to the mall on the other side of town to get my Christmas shopping done. With the exception of two presents I can pick up at a later date, I’m all done with my shopping. And since I was up there, I decided to pick up a slice of the Celebration Cheesecake to go from the Cheesecake Factory.
I’m considering that my post-run recovery meal. It was worth the $9.50.
On my run yesterday, I was thinking about the Indy Monumental. The first weekend of November is a big deal in racing. Saturday is Indy, and then Sunday is the TCS New York City Marathon. It became an unofficial tradition to watch the NYC Marathon at my folks’ house on Sunday morning before returning to Columbus that afternoon. Several local runners I follow on Instagram were up there running, spectating or volun-cheering. So yesterday was Indy, today NYC. As cheesy as it sounds, it truly was a run-derful weekend.
I realized this morning that yesterday was the first time I ran outside in about six weeks. My last run was that ill-fated September morning/afternoon, when my body told me we weren’t running 18 miles as planned. I hit the wall after nine miles and wound up walking the rest of the way back to my car. I felt like death warmed over, like the liquid I was drinking was stuck in the back of my throat. I was also dizzy and feeling the run in my knees, which never happens.
I spent the rest of that afternoon sick and wound up having to run to the bathroom at midnight. Without crossing into gross territory, let’s just say whatever was trapped in the back of my throat wasn’t trapped any longer. I spent the next day at home in bed, which was a bummer. I was signed up to volunteer at the Big Bad Wolfe run and was looking forward to it.
Part of why I’d been so hesitant to run outdoors was the fear of getting sick again, either in public or at home. One of my running fears is lightheadedness causing me to collapse on a trail or sidewalk, and being stuck there for a while before someone stumbles upon me. Or losing my, um, dignity in front of strangers.
The other big anxiety I was dealing with? Fear that I would be the victim of a violent attack. I haven’t forgotten about Eliza Fletcher. Or Mollie Tibbetts. Add Sydney Sutherland, Vanessa Marcotte and Karina Vetrano to my list, and there’s definitely more ladies who had their lives taken from them when all they were doing was going for a run and minding their own business.
For 95 percent of the time, I know myself and trust my judgment. I also know my city, know which sections of the trails I run are safe and which sections I should run through residential streets to avoid. I don’t own a pair of headphones or anything that could signal I’m distracted, I carry mace openly and I only run in areas that are well-traversed during the daytime only.
But then there’s that five percent of me that knows life and malicious actors are beyond my control. Who’s to say any of the women I listed above weren’t also aware of where they were running, hadn’t ran in those same spots thousands of times before without incident or reason to fear?
So in between physical challenges and anxiety, I couldn’t work up the courage to go outside and run. I pressed pause on that part of my life, just like I pressed pause on my Garmin that September day.
I’ve written about the comparison game before on here, about how easy it is to compare yourself to people who have always ran, always ran fast and never had a monkey wrench thrown into their life. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of comparing Current You to Old, Better You. Old, Better Me could run a half marathon every weekend in 2018, then a year later in 2019 run a 150-mile month that August during marathon training – a record I likely won’t beat again.
Current Me is heavier, eating way too much processed foods and sweets (although you can pry that Celebration Cheesecake from my cold dead hands), and trying not to bring the remnants of Nuun Hydration up in front of someone’s gorgeous residential mansion when she does run. It also doesn’t help that occasionally I’ll get well-meaning folks trying to reassure me in ways that are frankly pretty defeatist.
“Well you know you’re 30.” Yeah, 30. That’s not geriatric.
“You’re a woman. Our bodies are going to hold on to extra fat because it wants to get pregnant and have a baby.” Hate to break it to you, but fertility ain’t my problem; French fries in size humongous are.
The whole “getting-older-so-accept-defeat” mentality is a post of its own some day. Which gives me ideas, but I’m digressing. Back on topic.
This past week’s getting back into the swing of things was the first time I did feel like I was back in the saddle. I ran three days, like I used to do, and each run felt natural, easier than the run before it. I incorporated lifting four days of the week. My goal is to get to five, but for now I’m not unhappy with four. I still need to work on flexibility, but that’s more of a general life thing instead of running-specific.
Just like my Garmin watch, as easy as it is to pause and finish a run, it’s also just as easy to press the start button. Or in my case, “resume.” That’s what I did this past week, mentally and physically. I pressed resume on one of the most important parts of my life. Now here I am, remembering why I started running and how I fell in love with it in the first place.
I hope you all have a great week ahead. Show the world that life is tough, but you’re tougher.
Yours in running and life,