...of my newfound attitude towards my running.
Well, maybe not just newfound, but also necessary. I've always been a very competitive person, and at times I haven't channeled that well in the sense that if things don't go perfectly the way I want them to, I get upset about it.
I realized a couple of years ago that I was letting that attitude ruin my joy of running. It seems like almost every race I would run I would focus on the things I didn't do, or the things I could've done better, instead of being happy for the accomplishment. I was the one on the train coming back from the marathon who sat glumly in my seat -- wondering what I could've done differently -- while the others around me were celebrating what they just did.
And it's stupid, really. So I run 4:30 (or thereabouts) and wonder what I could've done to run 4:20. Really? To a point I think everyone does that but when it takes the fun away from what you are doing you definitely need to refigure your priorities.
So I did. I decided last year that it was pointless to be so hard on myself. Maybe if I had the time and energy to run 50 miles a week, sure. But I don't. This is something that is supposed to be fun and uplifting. Plus, it's getting a bit harder as I get older, and if I had kept my same mindsets as in the past it would just choke the life out of my running and make me hate it.
I've been doing pretty well so far. I'm content to run at my 11 or 12 minute pace, put in the miles and enjoy the view. Other than long runs, I try to stay off the clock as it gets me in trouble sometimes.
After running four miles last night, the scheduled called for a 35-minute tempo run. I don't know if I have ever run those the right way, but my interpretation of them is that you are supposed to press yourself a little bit as the run goes along. I am a believer that to run fast you have to train fast, so the final minutes of a tempo are a bit on the uncomfortable side.
I hit the treadmill for these because it's just a lot easier to monitor my pace for this kind of stuff. I'm normally not a fan of the treadmill for lots of reasons, but sometimes they do serve a good purpose. Actually, let me take a step back: I hit the indoor track for about a half-mile of slow, easy running to get loose.
So I jumped on the 'mill, and started up at 12 minutes per mile with the intention of going up about 30 seconds per mile every 5-10 minutes so that I was under 10 during the last few minutes. Once I started upping the pace it just became a grind with each and every increase. At about 20 minutes I finally had to hit the pause button to get a drink of water and catch my breath, then at about 30 minutes I was at about a 10:15 pace and just couldn't get it going.
So I cut it short at just over 33 minutes (and 3.03 miles) then headed to the track and ran another mile at a pretty comfortable pace (about 11:30) and ended the run with about 4.5 miles total.
In the past, a run like that could ruin my day. I'd spend a lot of time thinking about why it happened and get down on myself because I was obviously doing something wrong. Don't get me wrong, I started to do that sort of thing but quickly stopped myself, because I can analyze something to the nth degree, but in the end the run was what the run was and I need to move on.
Besides, I did get some faster running in, which was good, and the mile I ran on the track felt pretty good, so in the end, what was the problem?
I've reached the point in my life that outside of my "serious" responsibilities, like my kids, my job and my relationships, most everything else should be just a matter of whether or not I like doing them. If I don't, why waste the time, you know?
That's not to say that I don't have goals and things related to my running. Quite the contrary. I'm already thinking past the marathon and into next year, and there are things that I'd love to accomplish. But I'm not going to live or die for those things...I'm going to do the miles and put in the work, and accept the result.
At least for now!