Listen. I, like you - like everybody probably - finds it really annoying when people talk about running all the time. So, I apologize. But at least I am not telling you my dreams! Which is, let's all agree, the worst. I mean, would you agree, certain unnamed individual who I share a bed with, who has easy access to me first thing in the morning when I haven't even had any coffee yet for the love of all that is holy?
As I've mentioned a few times recently, I let myself slide in the running and nutrition department after the marathon in November, which was ok with me. I needed and took a break from the intensity of that schedule. And it stayed ok with me for awhile, until recently, when I remembered I'd signed up to run a half-marathon at the end of next month, and I hadn't exactly been training very well, or, you know, at all.
I had run. Three miles here and there with the intention of getting back on a schedule as the date approached. But I was mostly acting cocky. I figured that all that running from several months ago was still with me. Plus all that mental stamina I'd developed would see me through. And yes, I think that's probably true to an extent. But I also think you probably shouldn't take a six-month break from regular exercise and then run 13 miles. In front of people who can see you and witness your physical state. And photograph it.
That's why this weekend I took a look at the schedule (one of the training programs on Hal Higdon's site, which I've used every time I've run a race) and realized that I was supposed to be up to nine miles by this point. Nine. Not three, only when it's nice outside and I feel like it.
So, trusting that all that prior training would be enough to sustain me, I buckled the old running belt, loaded a podcast and set out to run 4.5 miles away from my house, hoping I'd make it back home.
Here's the part where I go on a little tangent: the past few months have been difficult, and when I say that, I want to stress that I belive I am one of the luckiest souls on this planet, and the difficulty we've encountered recently has only strengthened this assertion. That being said, life has been more challenging lately. This year J and I are less able than we have been in the past to rally and remain upbeat about his ongoing job search. We are more concerned with trappings of domestic life that we used to treat more breezily: getting the kids into the right, or at the very least, the same school and the fact that we've outgrown our adorable little house. My father has had some serious health issues, which has been scary and stressful (but incredibly heartening, too, witnessing the outpouring of support and optimism from friends and family).
Anyway, I went for that run. And while I was running, I thought about this great thing that my friend Carole said, which I've thought about a lot. She once said that she started long distance running because it provided definitive results in a world of uncertainty (she, like J, is a scientist, and was talking about how unpredictable life in the lab can be, as you plot experiments and hope for the best). Carole said that she liked it that you could steadily train for a race and your body would respond the way it was supposed to. You just followed the directions, and it would work.
Because I did all that marathon training back in the fall, my body was still in enough shape that I could do that nine-mile run this weekend. In fact, I felt really good. And to be able to break out this definitive physical skill that I've developed during what's been a rather uncertain time felt really good, too. I'm planning on sticking to the schedule from here on out, even if it means breaking away from the political headlines I'm glued to every single morning so I can get out and pound the pavement. Thank god for the 24-hour cable news cycle, am I right?