Straight out of the cubicle last year, the challenge to increase my speed and distance was as much mental as it was physical. Running a mile seemed like a long distance, and then three miles seemed outrageous–who was I to run three miles? And then six or seven miles seemed like a massive feat. By the time I ran a half-marathon this past April, six miles was a daily thing for me, but those thirteen-point-one miles broke my brain.
Then I quit running for nearly six months.
In order to motivate myself, I’ve signed up for a 10k in October, the same race I finished last year in just under an hour. I started running a few weeks ago to get myself ready for those six-point-one miles, but it’s been a struggle.
I decided to start training with just a leisurely two-mile jog. Then I made it a two-mile run. Then I added a mile, first on the rubbery track, and then on the hard road. And it’s not scary or hard at all: I just keep reminding myself that I have to run 6.1 miles in a couple of weeks. I know I can do it, because I’ve done it before.
Only now I have shin splints. I’ve had them before, a pretty severe case in high school, so I’ve always known to take it easy. When a mile seems like a pretty substantial distance, taking it easy isn’t hard. But when you know that six miles is just a quick hour of your life and then you’ll be at home drinking lemon water on the sofa, taking it easy requires a lot more effort.
For me, this just proves how so much of what holds me back is all mental and how knowing I can accomplish something makes reaching my goals even easier. I’m not in better shape than I was at this time last year–in fact, I’m a good ten pounds overweight and I’m struggling more than ever to incorporate regular exercise into my routine. But since last year, I’ve figured out a course through town that ends up being about 12 miles long and I’ve run for two hours at a stretch. Knowing that I can do it makes it really hard to slow down and just run a mile or two every other day. Now that I know I can do it, it’s as good as done, except, in this case, ignoring the cues from my body is only going to result in more pain and strife for me. I guess knowing when to hit the brakes is as important as knowing when to step on the gas.