Friday, January 30, 2009

Mental Endurance

Sunrise over the SF Valley

Woke up to my phone alarm this morning and did what has become an unthinking maneuver – I hit the snooze button for 5 minutes. Since today is a rest day – no morning Cliff Z-bar, no shorts in 40 degree weather, no quick news scan before hitting the road – I took advantage of the extra time I have this morning. To drink coffee, to read, and to write.

After last weekend’s sessions totaling 42 miles, I expected my legs to be shot for this weekend. Darwinism came through for me, for the most part – I adapted pretty well. My 9-mile Tuesday run was one of the fastest I’ve ever done for this training regime. I took it easy during Wednesday’s 5-mile slow jog, and enjoyed it a lot. Yesterday’s 9-mile run was not that enjoyable, however. I think the miles finally got to my legs. My feet were sore, my body was a bit tired, and I just kept thinking, “This is almost over, right?”

Training my body to run when my mental endurance wears out before my physical endurance is one of the biggest challenges about running long distances. You have to make a conscious decision to continue with the workout (barring physical injury, of course) and set an example for yourself that says, “Even though I feel tired, I am going to do what I set out to do.” Exceed the limits you think you have for yourself. This little mantra works in sports and works in life.

On the other hand, I believe that exercise, sports and hobbies is general should be fun. And when they cease to be fun, that’s when you should stop doing them. But I reconcile that philosophy with this particular running hurdle because I have chosen running because it’s a mental challenge. I get enjoyment out of surpassing my own expectations, and if I were to stop my workouts when they get tough, I’d never make any progress.

This weekend is a flip-flop for the long runs. Because of Team in Training Kickoff and a haircut appointment on Saturday, I’ll be doing 18 miles broken into two runs (6 before breakfast, and 12 after lunch). Sunday’s pre-Super Bowl run is 24 miles with Kelley over at the beach. Little things like grocery shopping, writing fundraising letters for high school also populate the to-do list; those, and installing the Wii my dad surprised me with. Whether I will have the energy to play Wii tennis after these workouts remains to be seen.


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