32 Runs: When Running Stopped Sucking

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FullSizeRenderEvery week, my therapist and I come up with homework assignments for our next session. One of my assignments was to have two long workouts in a week so now rather than having 1 peak day, I have 2 (Mondays and Thursdays).

The longest I’ve ever run so far is around 3 miles. The last time I reached that was January 12 and I haven’t been back there since, mostly because of the minor injuries I’ve experienced the last couple weeks. I’ve been afraid of slowing down the healing process or, God forbid, worsening it. I am taking my time though, gradually building up momentum and allowing myself to recover in between workouts.

Today I ran a little over 2.5 miles. It was a great workout. I maintained my pace of 3 minutes off, 3 minutes on and although I didn’t run consistently through, my cadence was much more consistent throughout. And it was just enough challenge to keep me working hard.

Also I think I realized after last week’s workout that I wasn’t coming down enough from my on phases. For example, even though I was running at 3.1 on the treadmill, I would only drop down to 2.5 (fast walk) which wasn’t enough for me to recover for the next set. So now, I go up to 3.1 or 3.2, but then I drop down to 2.0. It allowed me to slow my breath a bit, brought my heart rate down just enough, and then gave my legs some time to recover. As a result, I was able to get more consistent peaks in this run than I’ve had in past runs.

Someone asked me at what point did running stop sucking. It was a really good question, one that made me think back over the last few weeks. Was there one definitive moment or was it a gradual conversion? I wasn’t sure.

I can only describe it as the moment when the pain in my legs went away and I no longer wanted to puke my guts out. It was then that I realized I was able to just focus on my cadence and my breathing. Thump, thump, inhale, thump, thump, exhale… thump, thump, inhale, thump, thump, exhale… The combined sound of my feet on the treadmill plus my breathing sounded like a tribal rhythm.

At that point, time became inconsequential and my mind became… meditative.

Once I caught myself going over my 3 minute set, other times I ran far enough to only have a few seconds left. My therapist described that once. She wanted me to get to that point where I was so immersed in something that food was no longer on the brain. That’s where I am when I run. When I find that rhythm, when my legs realize that hey, I really can do this, that’s when it stopped sucking.

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