Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of inefficiency.

I said this to a coworker the other night as I shut off the Bissel sound machine, which at some point in its short life also doubled as a vacuum cleaner. After a few more passes over the same speck of dust on the rug, I was ready to give up. Two platitudes warred: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" was ultimately drowned out by "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I shut off the vacuum and pulled out the broom instead.

Sometimes I wonder this about my running. I'm slow, often painfully so, and half the time I'm at peace with this knowledge--that is, on the days my legs are fresh and I'm hitting my target pace, I tell myself it's okay that my long runs often are two to four minutes slower per mile than my shorter (5-10 mile) runs. Basically I do the same thing over and over again, and wait for the results to change--while riding a long, long plateau.

About two weeks ago, I had my longest run ever. I completed 18 miles in about three and a half hours, a pace that should have left me feeling comfortable, though tired and sore. I hydrated throughout the run, consumed a scant few calories even, and while I was tired mentally that last mile, I felt fine. I shouldn't have been dry-heaving for half an hour after I stopped. I shouldn't have passed out on the community's gym floor, where I stopped when I couldn't make the extra two hundred foot walk to my apartment. I shouldn't have had to sleep for three hours after I was finally able to crawl out of the bathroom.

And then I woke up the next morning, banged out six more miles, and went on with my life.

This coming Wednesday, I have another long run ahead and frankly after my last performance, I'm terrified. What did I do wrong last time? What can I change this time around? I am capable of completing this distance--I'm stubborn to a fault and will likely die trying to meet a distance goal someday--but I'd like to do so without the foam around the mouth, gelatinous legs, migraine-level headaches and fever. And at a pace faster than 11:40 miles.

This week I'll change up my nutrition, because quite frankly, even though my stomach tightens and can't hold food during a run, NOT eating (and getting in sodium) hasn't helped my body cover  long distances with any degree of efficiency.

I'm not sure 50 kilometers is going to be as nice to me as my last 18-miler.

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