I’ve started running again-again. (I stopped for a bit this spring after whacking my knee, then again while Rhi was here, and yet again while Kim was here.) Now that my heart is all, Whoo-hoo! Let’s train for this 10k! Nothings between us and it! DO IT!!, I find I’m a bit impatient that I can’t just pick up where I left off. Well, actually, I guess I’m picking up where I left off in July just fine – I’ve found that once you get used to running a certain length, your body can start back at about a mile, no matter how long gone you’ve been. But my heart wants to clock along for two or three miles, and gets all pouty when my body wants to collapse after a half-mile. My mind, ever rational (HA!), insists on following the C25k, to help me acclimate without killing my poor, pathetic, running self. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
Mostly. Maybe I cheat a bit. See, I started with 9 minutes – which is almost a mile for me. My body wasn’t used to running at such a big stretch all at once, even if I aimed at pacing between 11-12 minute mile. So I’d run for 9 minutes, keep walking as I caught my breath, and then finish my mile – about another minute, minute and a half on good days, another 2-3 minutes on slower days. So not really sticking to the “only run as long as the prescribed minutes for the week, even if you’re feeling good” clause in the C25k program. But I really wanted to start with a single mile and build from there.
This week, my 12-minute week, I’m still only hitting at just over a mile. And as I puzzle out which rules are absolute, and which I can bend, I realize I’m focusing a lot more on how I feel, and as I lecture myself and give myself pep talks, it’s become clear to me that I see this running process revolving around three central ideas. (Or, you know, cartoon characters in my head. Because I’m me.) I’ve started calling them The Runner’s Unholy Triumvirate. Unholy, because each one will trick you if it can, just to get its way. So you have to pay close attention. They are Heart, Body, and Mind. Heart is what motivates me, makes me think I can just keep running if I want to, that I could knock out 3 miles today without any question, even though there’s zero evidence to support that claim. Heart is what tries to convince me every week to just hit that next milestone, ignore the time on the clock. Ignore the rules. Just do it! That I would be so proud of myself! Heart is what gets me to sprint full-out, practically Phoebe-style, at the end of some runs. Heart loves running. Body is almost entirely the opposite. Body is how I’m feeling, my muscles, the way I’m trying to suck down more oxygen and failing, how tired I am. Body begs me to take breaks, tells me I’ve done quite enough for right at that moment…only occasionally it will strategically align itself with Heart and agree to kick it up for some fun running, just to pull one over on Mind. Mind is the voice of reason – or, she tries to be. She’s the one who has to keep Body running when she wants to give up, or reign Heart in when she thinks up those cockamamie ideas. She’s the one who keeps everyone on schedule and sticks to the plan and arbitrates arguments whenever they come up.
Yes, it’s a bit cheesy to think of running this way. But I’ve found that if I do it, I can compartmentalize better. I can rally easier. I can tell myself that Body might be tired, but tell myself that Heart and Mind are still kicking. And it makes it easier to ignore how tired I am and keep going. It’s a strategy tool and a bit of a game, and if I’m going to get back into this 10k thing, Imma use every stinkin’ tool I can!
Even the ones that are based on cheesy cartoons in my head.