Today was the first 20 miler of the season.
It was hard.
I’m not entirely sure why it was so hard. It was surprisingly hard. While it’s not like I want to run 20 miles every weekend, most of last year’s were surprisingly doable. They didn’t feel like an immense struggle for big chunks of it. Today’s was a different story. The last 8 miles were torturous, and I found myself having to talk myself through it much like I would the last 6 miles of the marathon. I went to a dark, lonely place. My two friends were similarly locked in their own individual prisons as all conversation shut down, though I think at one point I jeered, “You’re almost there” to Jen. We even stopped running as a group but strung out single file. It was grueling. Granted, it was 32 degrees and a 12mph headwind the whole way back. And we had already run the toughest week of training, with almost 40 miles for the week before the long run. Oh, and Jen’s kid had barfed all over his room right before she was ready to leave. Like barf on the ceiling and on furniture. Hm, maybe I’m starting to understand…
There was a hill right before an overpass around mile 18.5. There was alot of cursing. This picture makes it look like nothing. That’s Jen in front of me in our little line of runners. She was very intent on finishing as soon as possible although I kept hollering at her to not push the pace too much.
I have no words of wisdom on how to talk yourself through those miles. Alot of it is just trying to find a groove to settle into so that you are on auto-pilot and your feet keep shuffling along. This autopilot can be a great thing on a strong run, and it can be a saving grace on a hard run. I like to think of it as perpetual motion or inertia. It’s easier to keep moving if you keep moving, harder if you stop.
When you get into that head space, though, it’s hard to talk yourself through. You have to constantly nudge, encourage, berate yourself to keep moving. You lie to yourself and say you “only” have x miles left, you can do this, etc. I actually was thinking about this line, “We make the road by walking.” I know it in relation to a book by Ira Shor and Paulo Freire (two critical education scholars), but I’m not sure if it originates with them. My baby attempts (Googling for 5 seconds) at finding the origin online brought me to a poem by Antonio Machado, a turn-of-the-century Spanish poet. Whether it begins with him or not, the poem is lovely and appropriate.
Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing else;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
Walking makes the road,
and on glancing behind
one sees the path
that he will never trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road—
Just foam in the sea.
Our reward for this test of mental and physical strength? Strong, hot coffee. Mmmmmm. This is a fairly cute picture, but I have to be honest. I cropped part of it out, because my outer layer had a pouch that made me look pregnant and Michelle (in the middle) had a waist belt that hung in an–uh–“interesting” spot.You can still see my bad tired posture, though. And #nofilter
So, friends, what do you use to get yourself through those tough miles?
Favorite post-run treat?