Return of the Runner’s High

This weekend, we were visiting friends on the Central Coast, so I had some new scenery for my long run on Sunday. With so much to catching up to do, I didn’t get to bed until 2 am, so it would have been pretty easy to talk myself out of getting out the door in the morning.

My alarm went off at 7:45 am. Alex was supposed to run with me, but his back has been bothering him and we both agreed it was better to rest than risk further injury. I was facing a “long” run alone, on a route I didn’t know, after not that much sleep.

Long is in quotes because my scheduled run was 5 miles. By my current standards, that’s long – I haven’t been running more than two or three. By my marathon training standards of last summer, that’s a before-work morning run. It’s all relative.

Anyway, it took me ten minutes, but I finally talked myself into getting up and getting dressed. I had to employ the following mantras:

  1. Just put your clothes on. If you get out there and feel horrible, you can come home.
  2. You’re not going to feel horrible. You’re going to feel great!
  3. One of your goals for 2012 is to PR your half marathon. You can’t do it without training!
  4. The runner’s high is totally worth it.
  5. You are strong and you can do this!
  6. If you run now, you can just relax when you get back to San Francisco!

These mantras played on repeat in my head as I got out, got dressed, put on sunscreen and headed out. I’d picked a route near Jessie and Miro’s house that was 4.7 miles, figuring I’d add on a bit extra to round it out.

It turned out that while the start of the route looked close to the house on the map, it was actually one mile away. It is not hard to figure out why I get lost often. My five mile run was suddenly a 6.7 mile run. I knew I could change the route and cut it short, but I didn’t know the area so I decided to follow the map.

I encountered some unexpected hills, accidentally ran through some private property, and had to run in the shoulder at parts where there wasn’t a sidewalk. For much of the run, the sun was beating down on my face, and I’d left my visor at home. My hip started hurting near the end, and I could’ve called it quits, but I stopped to stretch a bit and then soldiered on.

All those mantras I repeated to myself? They were true. I did feel great during and afterwards. I was strong enough to do it. I even ran at a pace faster than I anticipated (9:20 for those who are interested – I’m not going to be winning races anytime soon, but it’s faster than I thought it’d be for a long run!)

I’m often not the best solo runner. During marathon training, 14, 16, 18 miles flew by while I chatted with teammates. Now, it’s often hard to get through a two mile run on my own. Part of my reluctance to get out on Sunday was that I wouldn’t have a running buddy to distract me. When I’m running alone, I tend to obsess about how far I’ve gone and how far I have to go. This time, I actively directed my thoughts towards my upcoming classes and the wedding. It sort of felt like constantly redirecting my focus to the breath during meditation. Only in this case, I was taking the focus off of my body and onto other things.


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