Tuesday, January 27, 2009

0 Track Workout Cancelled Due to Snow, But That's Not Going To Stop Me :)


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OK, so local area schools are closed, which means our club's track workout is cancelled for tonight.

As I see it, there are four options: Use a treadmill, run on the road, find an open track (which might be difficult considering the 191 school cancellations in this area due to snow ;-) ), or take a wait-&-see approach & postpone the workout until tomorrow.

I'd prefer to run outside today, but if the road conditions are a bit too slick, I may opt for the treadmill instead. The important thing is that the workout gets done at the proper intensity levels.

Today's workout for my particular pace group (9:15) is supposed to be 6x800 at threshold pace (75-85% effort level), bookended by a mile each of warm-up & cool-down runs done at an easy pace. According to the pace chart, this means my warm-up & cool-down should each be done in 11:00 minutes total, with each lap, or 400, done in 2:45. Threshold pace for the 800s are supposed to done in 4:40 (or 2:20 per lap). We also have the option of simplifying the workout by running 5 minutes at threshold pace & then doing a 3 minute recovery jog.

As described by our coach, "Threshold pace should be a pace you can maintain for at least an hour. You should feel like you are running comfortably hard or are on the edge of huffing and puffing."

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Psychologically speaking, it's probably best to get the workout done today. :) While I don't believe in being obsessive or inflexible about scheduling, I will usually still try to stick to the original schedule whenever humanly possible. The reason I do this is simple: I am trying to reinforce positive behaviors, & for me, postponing workouts without a really good reason is basically tantamount to procrastination. :)

That being said, my biggest struggles in running/exercise have almost always been mental. Without a doubt.

If you don't think it's a struggle for me to get out of bed at 6:30 am on a Saturday, when I'd honestly rather be sleeping in on a good number of those Saturdays -- and mind you, I get up the natural & frequently painful way -- yes, that'd be without coffee :), & with less sleep than I'd probably like to have gotten -- just so I can get to our club's long-distance trail run, then I will promptly tell you otherwise! :)

And just for the record, I was seriously tired on Sunday when I did those pushups & situps, (I'd just run 12 miles the previous day, which is two miles longer than my usual long-distance weekend runs), but you know what, I did them anyway. Of course, it would've been much easier to say to myself, "I'm tired & don't feel like doing this. All I just wanna do is rest/sleep!" (My inner voices did, in fact, say this a few times, & some of them manifested themselves out loud, but I chose to ignore them. :) )

But I do them because I'm dedicated to seeing this process through. It's more important for me to exercise than to not do it. Because I know how awful I will feel if I don't fulfill the deal I made with myself. My word is my bond. And I made a promise to myself, & to others as well (that'll I regularly show up for group practices!), & I'm not about to break those promises. It has less to do with the money I paid for the running clinic, & more to do with those promises I made.

I think it's important to acknowledge these struggles, because all too often it could appear to someone "from the outside looking in" like "la-de-dah, this is a piece of cake." (Well, sometimes it does feel like a piece of cake, but on other days, it's really not!)

In fact, I will honestly tell you that I have mental struggles all the time. However, the good news is that I find that the more I fight those inner voices telling me to sleep in or call it quits, the stronger I feel, & the easier it becomes to say things to yourself like, "Yeah, yeah, I've heard that one from you before, so it's not gonna work on me this time," "You will NOT beat me at this game," or "No, I'm not going to listen to you this time, Voice of Laziness." :)

OK, those admissions were brutally honest. But it's important to be honest with oneself about how one best functions. I don't exactly think Socrates had sports in mind when he said "know thyself." However, all the same, it's crucial to pay attention to our physical & psychological selves, & acknowledge how we operate in various circumstances. :) This is not to say that we cannot change psychological & physical patterns; I firmly believe that it is possible to change long-standing, counter-productive behaviors, especially if we are willing to put in the continual effort to do so.

Changing our "exercise mindsets" is similar to how visualization works in sports. Being aware of one's "monkey mind" (to borrow the expression from yoga/Asian philosophy), & taking control of your "self-talk" will help you to be successful & making good choices for yourself.

So go & show those inner "Voices of Laziness" who's boss. Repeatedly saying a firm "NO!" to them will not only make you feel better about yourself & your accomplishments, but will also help you to say "YES!" to exercise the next time too. :)

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