Monday, October 19, 2009

The Weekend Report: Pushing It

One thing all athletes have in common is that we like to push ourselves. We like to see how far we can go - how fast? - how long? - before we can’t go anymore. Each person has a different point at which they say Ok, that’s far enough.

That’s why we train/workout – to extend our abilities so that we can go farther/faster/longer before we reach our breaking point. It such a common theme – runners are always marveling at their new-found abilities, A few weeks ago I could barely run 3 miles, now I can do 5 and feel good!

The more I run, the more I want to run. I love being exhausted. I love pushing myself to that point at which I doubt my ability to keep going. A good 800 workout means that my vision starts to blur around the edges. A good race means that I cannot stand up at the end. On a day-to-day basis, I am slightly less extreme. I love/hate the point at which the world starts to lose color.  The reason I love this is not because I actually enjoy feeling awful. But I love the high I get afterwards.

Let me illustrate this with an example from this weekend before you commit me to an asylum/permanent surveillance:

  1. It is Friday afternoon. I’m at work, feeling awful. It is all I can do to keep myself from lying on the floor under my desk. It’s freezing cold and disgusting outside. Tempo run? Oh. My. God. I don’t know if I can move myself home, much less run a tempo!  But it’s Friday. And if I don’t workout today, I will just have to do it tempo run it is. I finished running at about 8:15 pm, and it actually went really well!
  2. Saturday morning, 8:00 am: My alarm goes off. Still freezing rain. Am I going to meet DC Capital Striders for the 8:30 Saturday Long Run? I don’t want to I don’t want to I don’t want to…but ok, here we go. Shoes on, I throw myself out the door into the cold. (And if you were in the DC area this weekend, you know what I mean when I say that it was cold!) We ran on Haynes Point, my first time running there. The people were all nice, but lets just say that some long runs are longer than others, an this was a long 10 miles. (I very briefly considered walking, but that would just prolong my outside-in-the-cold-ness.) I made it back to Dupont, took a fast hot shower to restore feeling to my extremities, and threw on some clothes.
  3. Here comes the best part (now that I have successfully completed 19 miles in a 15-hour window). I meet a couple friends.We are seated at beautiful wood table at Founding Farmers in Foggy Bottom. The waiter puts a hot delicious cup of strong black coffee in front of me and takes my order for a stack of blueberry pancakes. I’m tired, my legs are stiff, but I made it and am looking forward to an amazing breakfast. Food just tastes better when you’ve put in the work.

Obviously, I would have enjoyed breakfast regardless of my workouts. BUT, the fact that I was so tired, and so desperately in need of a good meal, made the whole experience better. I left the restaurant amazed at how great I felt – tired but energized at the same time. 

I pushed it…I lived…I rewarded myself with pancakes. If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. If you’re not a runner, you should probably become one so that you can share in this type of experience. Mmmm, such a great feeling!