Friday, July 12, 2013

Conquering Mountains In My Head

There's no doubt that running is a physical activity. Some days, however, the problem isn't getting my legs to move...the problem is getting my head to tell my legs to move. I have to convince myself, (especially when I start a run), that I really can do it.

It took me a long time to conquer the big hill on my normal running route. Driving through the neighborhood you barely even notice the hill, it's really not that big. In my head, however, it looked more like Mt. Everest.  I felt like I was scaling a mountain. Finally I made it to the top.

I guess that's why I've kept to the same route...even though I didn't like it. My path of choice goes in and out of 7 cul-de-sacs. Those tight turns can really hurt my hips. I developed the route by slowly adding one more street at a time as I increased my distance. I've stayed with it because I know the path well. I know the hills. I know when I'm getting ready to go up...and I know how much further until I get to go down. I know exactly where I'll reach each mile. I know I can finish the run.

A few months ago I wanted to get away from the cul-de-sacs so I developed another route. I mapped it out on the computer, doing my best to keep all the hills in mind. After several attempts I found a route I likes. 4 1/2 miles total (something to work up to) including 2 hills...back to back. Uppp, down, uppppppppp. 

When I ran this new route for the first time I was usually running around 30 minutes nonstop. My first run I only lasted 1 mile before I had to walk. WHAT???  I hadn't even reached the hard part yet. I wasn't used to the route and in my head it seemed to hard.

On my second run I lasted to the base of the first hill.  About 1 1/2 miles...not great, but better. The huge hills loomed before me. I couldn't do it. 

The third time I made it up the first hill. I was so tired I almost stopped at the top. But wait...what goes up must come down.  Why pass up the easy part. The second hill, however, was not going to happen. No way, no how!!!

I ran that route a few more times, but never made it up both hills. Then I realized my knee problems were from me trying to run too far too quickly. I had to stop running as often and shorten my runs. I decided it would be best to go back to the old route and concentrate on getting stronger on my 5K. 

Today I felt more daring. I've been consistently running a 5K (almost).  My body has adjusted to the heat and humidity (mostly).  My knees haven't been hurting (except when I stand up or sit down).  Maybe I should tackle those hills again. 

This time I was more confident I could run the full 5K...but those hills were still in the back of my mind. I knew I'd done the first one before, but I'd never conquered the second. I convinced myself today would be the day. As Yoda says, " Do or do not, there is no try."  (Just in case you were wondering, that is the text sound on my iPhone. It drives my husband crazy.)  I was just going to have to get out there and do it.
I started off and enjoyed the first mile. Thank goodness it was mostly downhill! I made it to the first hill and I didn't stop. I've done this before. As I continued downhill I prepared myself for the next up. This was the one I had been dreading...the one that had always beaten me. I turned the corner and there it was. Somehow I remembered it being a lot steeper. Maybe it was because I wasn't already worn out. But I knew I was already halfway done...and it was a distance I knew I could handle.  I kept on running. Up the dreaded hill. 

I'm sure by now you're wondering if I live in the middle of a mountain range. it is, my nemesis:
Scary, huh?  Looking at it now, not so much. I'm proud to say I conquered it. I ran my full 5K.

Since this route is 4 1/2 miles total, my goal is to add just a little every day and then walk the rest. Maybe I'll run to the next driveway, maybe I'll add two. Part of it will depend on my legs, and part of it on my head. I just have to think more like Yoda.

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