Comfort in Repetition

Double digits are a part of my weekend vocabulary again. I ran 10 miles this morning. What guided today’s run was a small little a-ha moment I had on Wednesday as I was running with my coach.

Wednesday night, the weather was in our favor: 75 degrees with a breeze off the bay. I did my usual 1.6 mile warm up to the visitor’s center. My hip was feeling good, so we felt confident that I could challenge my body with a real speed work out. We were sticking to the paved road. Back down the road, back up, down, up and down one more time. Each segment was filled with 30 and 60 second speed intervals with 15 seconds of focused fast arm work and active recovery. After the first segment, I thought to myself that I was going to have to beg my coach to let me go back to the car after the third set. There was no way I was making it through five intervals. Before we headed off, my coach told me that the key factor in the work was not panicking. I had to remember to relax in the workout. When it physically got tough (and it got tough), I had to stay mentally calm. After the second set, I still felt like I was going to have to call it quits early. During my third set, I found comfort in the repetition. I knew exactly how long each segment would last. My muscles were warming up. By the end of the fifth segment – yes, I survived all five sets – my legs were exhausted, but my mental strength was stronger than it was in the start. I expected to crumble on the cool down run back to the car, but somehow the 1.4 miles back to the car felt great.

Today when my run got mentally hard, I remembered not to panic. I ran another new route today. I get tired of running the same route for all of my long runs. This route had a lot of long straight stretches. I like direction change in my runs. Two miles of straight running always gets to me mentally. During one of those two-mile stretches that always challenge me, it dawned on me. Maybe there is something to be said for finding repetition in my long runs. Maybe instead of always looking for somewhere new to run, I should stick to the same path. I should allow the same roads to help shape my mental strength. There is something to be said for knowing exactly where your going. Maybe I can make those two-mile stretches feel as familiar as the fifth segment in my speed workout on Wednesday.

Overcast, light rain, and fall-like temperatures
Overcast, light rain, and fall-like temperatures

Once I conquered that two-mile stretch, I turned back towards the ocean. I had one mile to go until I hit my favorite stretch at the oceanfront. Along this stretch, I also realized how repetition is what makes life comfortable. I’m in new territory with my faster miles. The more I run them, the more confident I will become. I won’t question my ability when I see an 8 on my garmin in the middle of a long run. In life we are also approaching a new season. School will be back in session soon. Chet’s starting daycare two days a week. Cole is playing soccer for the first time. The fall is going to bring a lot of change in our family. The key to surviving this transition is not panicking. After a few weeks this new territory will become our new norm. It will all be a part of our normal family routine just like faster long runs are becoming my normal running routine.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way ~Carl Sandburg

Rudee Inlet
Rudee Inlet

When I started on this running journey a few years ago, I was running to reclaim a part of myself that got lost years ago. I wanted to move and breath. I wanted to feel the freedom I felt on the track when I was in High School. I never expected to run a marathon. I wasn’t trying to be a runner. I had nothing to prove. Since running that marathon back in March, I feel like I’m rediscovering that feeling of freedom. Running is such an amazing gift in my life. My goal in marathon #1 was to learn what it felt like to run 26.2 miles. My goal for marathon #2, Richmond Marathon, is learning how to challenge myself over the course of 26.2 miles. It’s a completely different quest. With this different objective comes an entire new set of life lessons waiting for me to discover them. This week I feel like I put myself on the path to discovering what I’m capable of achieving.

Woo!
Woo!

Today’s Run: 10 miles at a 9:06 pace….an unofficial PR by 2:03

(9:26, 9:09, 9:07, 9:04, 8:52, 9:10, 9:05, 9:17, 8:47)

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