Thursday, April 29, 2010

Overcoming the First Setback

On the 15th training day of the Couch to 5K program, the prescribed workout was a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then jog 2 miles (or 20 minutes, depending on whether you measure time or distance). From the beginning, this was the day I was most worried about because it seemed like such a huge jump from the previous day which was

Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
Walk 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)

I had gotten through that, but I depended on having the walking break in between. I hadn't even run a solid mile since June and here I had to run two?! I do my long runs on Saturdays and yes, this was a long run so I went on a Saturday afternoon in late December (deadsville time), hopped on my favorite treadmill and made it through the first mile, panting, constantly telling myself how much it sucked.

Hitting 1.0 miles was like hitting a brick wall. No matter how many steps I took (and yes I was counting them), I never seemed to reach 1.01 miles. How was I ever going to make it to 2.0? My mind shut down and my feet refused to go just one more step. Grasping the sides, I killed the speed, bent over and panted until my heart rate was back under control. Eventually I finished the two miles, but with several stopping points to breathe.

I felt like a failure. Serious aspirations of a marathon and I couldn't even finish two miles?

I went back the next day to try again. This time I was somewhat better prepared. No one was going to stand next to me and tell me I could do it, so with a Sharpie I wrote on my left hand "You can do this!" On my forearm I wrote "My mind is stronger than my body." One of the guys working at the Y asked who wrote all over my arm. It might have looked silly, but it worked. Every time I swung my left arm slightly forward I was reminded that yes, I can do this, and yes, my mind is stronger than my body (and hand sanitizer instantly erases permanent marker from the skin).

Finishing two miles was the first great accomplishment of training for this race. Now it's a short distance ("Only two miles to go!"), but in December it was major and after I finished and collapsed in the sauna I could think only one thing: "I did it!"

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