Warning: you are approaching empty.
This post is inspired by two things, so bear with me. The first is this hilarious picture from SkinnyRunner’s blog…who amongst us hasn’t played chicken with that empty gas alert gauge on our car? (okay Seinfeld fans smile at the flashback to Kramer here)
Is it just me or does it constantly seem like I’m trying to one-up the empty gauge. With gas, part of it is because I cringe as I whip out the debit card…it just seems like with gas I don’t get an actual, physical return. Yes, it gets me to where I need to be, but what do I actually GET…it feels like wasted money.
We play chicken with the E in other areas of our life too. Just how much can I accomplish in this hour…I work best under pressure, so come the 11th hour and it’s crunch time you better watch me churn things out like a tornado. (little tip here: I know this about myself, so I try and ‘trick’ myself by setting a pre-deadline deadline…I’m anal about having something important done early)
With running, there are TONS of E’s…but here is where it’s a bit odd. Some of these E’s you need to avoid and others you need to kind of embrace and play around with. An obvious E is fuel, this is one you don’t want to play chicken with…we’ve all made the mistake of mistiming our eating (or making a really bad food choice too soon before a run…those curly, cheese and bean fries don’t taste too good the second time, no?) and it doesn’t feel too good to bonk.
Injuries could count as E’s to avoid…especially if you sense one coming. Danger, Will, Robinson…abort. We feel that pull, get the sinking ping in our gut and know, “Uh-oh…I pushed it a little too far, shoulda been smart. Hope this one isn’t too bad.”
But here is an E that we need to always be working towards getting more comfortable with. This is where I tie into the second thing I read at Jay Johnson’s site: Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Pain. That little red alert gauge starts to light up when we feel that pain, that burning, the lactic acid shuffle. Our mind starts telling us to back off and cool it, but here is where we need to play chicken with that blasted little needle and E alert sign.
Redlining it, pushing the envelope just far enough, straddling that line. Sometimes we overshoot and bonk the rest of the workout or race…this is where bad races/workouts can be excellent teaching tools. But practice makes perfect and the more often you callous yourself to that uncomforted the better you get at reading yourself and properly straddling that line, so you finish with a killer workout and get the best out of yourself.
As Coach Jay puts it, you fail sometimes, yes, and end up with a less than ideal workout result. But that’s why we do them, they are practice for the races and you know what they say about all that practice…eventually you’ll get it right. So play chicken with your brain in the pain drain. Running is so mental, and this aspect of mental toughness, grit, is something that we can forever be improving at. Hardening ourselves up ever more, reaching different levels.
1) What other E’s do we have as runners? Is it one to avoid or one we need to play chicken with?
2) We all have moments of coming out the loser in our game of chicken…any good fail moments to share?
So many…I’ll do this one: a 10k track race and my splits were all over the place; not so much in the actual mile times but the laps, one super-fast then slow to compensate, like a fartlek in a race. Not good for the old bod and never got into any kind of rhythm. Well, the mile splits still were looking fine and I was on track for a good PR, so I pushed the fifth mile. Crazy how much difference a single lap can make, night and day. BAM…that last mile was about a minute slower, and that last 0.2 of that 6.2 miles never felt looooooonger.
3) What is a great lesson you took away from a fail moment?
Get into a rhythm dorkette.