Yesterday morning, I set out to my trail of choice to tackle the longest run of my half-marathon training (and of my life) so far. EIGHT MILES. Man, does that seem like an impossible distance and yet I have to run that PLUS FIVE MILES in two weeks.
The thing about running is that it's just wildly unpredictable. My last long run was seven miles, and I felt pretty good throughout. It wasn't like a spa day, don't get me wrong, but I felt capable, strong, and like I still had some gas in the tank at the end. It was semi-enjoyable, even. This past weekend's run was ... not any of those words. It was the first time I really hit a wall and kept going. I hit that wall HARD around mile 5.5 and every part of me screamed to stop. My legs felt so sluggish and heavy but I knew my opportunities for long runs were dwindling. I only have two long runs left before we leave for Vegas, and I couldn't waste the chance to run the miles.
It's hard to reconcile that one run could be so good and one so awful, and it's really hard to keep going, after such a bad run. Why do this at all? When it's this tough? What is the point, MY GOODNESS, when my DVR is so full of things that do not include running?
I say all this because I'm not a natural runner, and if I'm being honest with all of you, I'm not really a natural good decision maker in general. I'll continually make bad choices and cling to bad habits knowing they're bad simply because it's my default setting. I don't know how to fix that about myself, although I'm trying. I don't know how to reprogram myself, although I'm trying. What I want my life to look like and what I do each day to achieve that life doesn't always add up and running has been this therapeutic bridge for me between who I am and who I hope to be and it's proof that I can get there, even if it's really ridiculously tough at times.
I think on some level it's always going to be hard for me, much harder than so many I read or follow or know. I'll probably always have to fight these self-destructive whispers in my head, to some extent.
What running has taught me, after all these months of training, is that you don't always have to enjoy the act of becoming better than you are, and that just because it sucks doesn't mean you should stop. Not that it always sucks, I've had plenty of good runs, but running isn't easy for me. It's not like I can hit the road and zone out for an hour. I have to work for the miles, and I've decided that's ok. I try to remind myself of this on the trail, and it's what I'll try to remind myself on the course in two weeks. That even though I might occasionally hate what I'm doing right now, it's infinitely better to hate what you're doing on your quest to be better than to hate who you are while you do nothing.
I have hated myself many times in my life, although that's a really painful thing to acknowledge, but I have never hated myself on a run.