Thursday, July 25, 2013

Running frustrated

In 10 weeks (plus a few days) I will run my third half-marathon. It always seems like such a good idea when I register, but somewhere down the line, I always question my decision. Usually it's when I've been churning out one mile after the other and all the miles are starting to grow into one big, gooey (and sweaty) pile of mush.

I wonder how it will be this time around. One thing is different. This will be my very first time using a set training program. In training for all my previous races (including the marathon and the triathlon) I ran when I felt like it and cross-trained when I felt like doing that, without any more guidance than listening to my body and knowing I needed to put miles in my legs. I'm hoping that following a set training program will keep me on track, help me use my time efficiently and take all the guesswork out of the equation. 

To be honest, the reason why I feel it's not enough to listen to my body this time around, is because I haven't liked what's it's been telling me lately. Ever since I started my exercise journey 2,5 years ago, I've steadily been progressing. First came gym-membership, followed by weight-loss and it all culminated in a marathon last December. But since December other things have been occupying my life and priorities. I haven't even thought much about exercise. The half-marathon I ran in May was more symbolic and held other meanings than a good finishing time. Now when things are starting to settle back into a new normal, I'm just relieved to know I haven't gained too much weight. 

So, after 6 months, I'm returning to regular exercise. And it's amazing how much speed and strength I've lost. Actually, amazing is the wrong word, depressing is more like it. I know it was expected and I know I will eventually get it back, but it's still very frustrating. Especially when I think about how hard I worked to get there in the first place! I hope everything I've heard about muscle memory is true...

But, I'm equally as frustrated with my attitude as I am with my weaker and slower physical being. I spent 28 years ignoring my body and about 15 of those actively abusing it before I finally started taking care of things. And when I did, my body responded to everything I asked of it, it even surprised me at times and ultimately showed me things beyond my wildest dreams. 

And now, all of a sudden, I'm frustrated with it for not having retained all my abilities while I sat around and did nothing? This hardly seems fair. I'm upset because I now run 11 min/miles instead of 10 min/miles. I beat myself up for using 12 lbs dumbbells when doing bicep curls instead of 15 lbs ones. Do I really have reasons to be upset, or am I just a cranky baby?

I can think of very few things that symbolize "if I scratch your back, you scratch mine" better than the relationship between body and mind. So, maybe, instead of mentally beating my body into submission, I should try to nurture and encourage it back to the strong and capable being I know, for a fact, it can be.