On my most recent long run I spent some time sitting on a bench and seriously considering that instead of continuing to run, I could just walk away. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about quitting, but it’s certainly the closest I’ve ever come to actually doing it, the experience left me more committed than ever.
As I start this video I am tempted to say that this was just an awful terrible horrible no good very bad week, but that’s not actually the truth. The truth is that my bike intervals went really well and the truth is that I had a swim lesson and she helped me remember a part of my recovery motion, in particular where my elbow is during recovery motion, that is going to help me not only be faster but have more ease in the swim and it felt really great. So that was really good.
But then there’s the run.
And the running this week has been terrible. Running is not my friend. I can remember if I told you this story before but they wanted me to run track and they want me to sprint and to throw, two things I’m pretty good at, so I agreed. And in the first day of track practice the coach was like “all right we start every practice with the two-mile run as a warm-up” and I was like “I quit.”
I literally quit in the first minute of track practice because I didn’t want to run 2 miles every day. I would rather shave my head with a cheese grater while chewing on tinfoil every day, than run 2 miles a day after school every day. And so I just said “No Thanks.” I was like, I think maybe we’ve miscommunicated – I will sprint and I will throw. I will not run any kind of distance.
I just hated it. And that was part of taking on this challenge was taking on that beast of a thing that I just said “No. I hate it, I’m not good at it, and I’m not going to do it.” And part of what I hated about it was that running always hurt me. I have this is chronic thing where I can have ripping pain that starts on the outside of my ankle and goes up to my knee. Starting last year I started to have this thing where my calves would cramp up almost immediately upon running and usually they would let go after a couple miles but it sucks and it hurts, and also just mentally it’s exhausting to keep running even though you are in that kind of excruciating pain. And so that’s kind of what this week was all about
Monday was one of the worst runs of my life. It was cold, it was raining – sort of between like a heavy fog and a drizzle at the beginning and then it picked up, the wind and the rain picked up at the end (perfect!) but I was having this cramping and pain the entire time and I would stop and try to stretch it out and it would be better for you now 10-15 strides and then right back to cramping up and and excruciating pain. And so finally I just had to give up and just run on the cramped leg cause there was nothing else to do. I felt like I didn’t want to cut the workout short and so I just did it and I got to the end and I wanted to be proud and happy and I was just you know I just felt like somebody just whooped my ass for an extended period of time.
Wednesdays run was a little better, I still had the cramping pain but, you know, a little better and at least it wasn’t freezing cold and raining the whole time.
And then there was the long run.
My physical therapist suggested I try compression calf sleeves and salt tablets and so I did both. So I’m in running tights and compression sleeves and you know I think I probably kind of looked like a leprechaun, I’m not sure exactly what that look was, but I’m certain that it was an interesting one. So I head out and the cramping starts almost immediately and it was almost a little more devastating because my calves did feel pretty good in the compression sleeves so I thought maybe this is gonna work, and so the fact that it didn’t, I think made it even worse.
After the first couple miles, it was really bad, probably the worst it’s ever been and I couldn’t get it to release. And there’s a bench near there so I just sat down on the bench. And originally my thought was I’ll sit down on this bench and just hopefully let the calves rest and you know sometimes that works if I sit down to all the pressure off them sometimes that can get them to release.
But the more I sat there, the more I didn’t feel like I could face getting up and running And that’s when I almost quit the IRONMAN. I was sitting there and I was thinking to myself “I can end this all right now. I can end it all I don’t have to do this anymore” and I literally, I had the Lyft app up on my phone because as a final “fuck you” to the IRONMAN I was going to get a Lyft to take me the less than a mile I was from my car – because I run a loop so I’m never even that far from my car which, another thing, every time I pass my car I think to myself “I could just get in it”
But I mean, I was done. And so I was composing in my head what my blog was going to be and how I was going to talk about the fact that sometimes you just can’t get something done and that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying, and trying to think about the lessons I learned about myself through this project and trying to think about a life without a workout that’s difficult and that I don’t really enjoy every single day for the next nine months.
And I was getting ready to order that Lyft and, I don’t know, I just had that stubborn streak come up and I said no I’m going to finish this run.
And I realize that I want to be on this journey that this is what I signed up for – can I still push myself towards this goal even when everything seems completely bleak and terrible. And I decided that yes I can do that. And so I put my phone away, turned my songs back and got up, and I kept going on the run.
And finally, it took 4 miles for it even to release a little bit, and then after four-ish miles I had a half a mile where I felt pretty good. And because it’s mentally exhausting, at least for me, to just keep going when I’m in that kind of constant pain, there is a tendency when I am then not in that kind of pain to like slack off little bit. Especially the walking interval. I do run/walk intervals and in the walking intervals especially there is a tendency to just want to sit back and enjoy not being in pain.
So I came up with this mantra that I just kept repeating to myself that “I’m getting stronger, I’m getting faster, I’m building endurance, I’m becoming an IRONMAN.” I don’t know how many times I said that to myself to get myself through this run and to really use the times when I felt not terrible to really push.
You know as I’ve told you guys many times, I think one of the problems, one of the reasons, I’m not improving in the running is that I’m confusing being miserable with working as hard as I can. And so I’m basically just sustaining what I can do instead of pushing harder and building more strength and more speed and more endurance. I feel like I really succeeded in this run at using all the times when I felt even a modicum better in terms of the cramping and the pain to really push and really try to build speed.
Despite the fact that I’m only a few hours now removed from the closest I’ve ever come to just quitting this entire journey, I feel pretty good. I feel good that I climbed back up out of the depths of my self-pity and sadness and difficulty and frustration and got up off that bench and finished that run.
That’s what I wanted to do with this journey, that’s what I wanted to learn about myself. I know that if I’m doing well at something, I can push really hard, and I can excel, and I can overachieve. But I want to know that if I’m not doing great at something, if I’m not exceling, that I can still push really hard, that I can still achieve. And getting up off the bench was an achievement, was an epic achievement for me ,not calling a Lyft and getting driven back to my car and going home and selling my bike and burning my running shoes and being done, was an achievement.
This is the journey that I signed up for and I know there are people who have a really hard time understanding why I would do this. And I understand that and I don’t recommend this for anyone – this isn’t something I think people should do or need to do, this is just my personal thing that I wanted to do. And so I’m doing it.
And I’m proud of myself and I’m feeling positive about this next week. And I’m ready for the next run. And if it hurts or if it doesn’t I know I’ll get through it. And I just keep telling myself: I’m building strength. I’m building speed. I’m building endurance. I’m becoming an IRONMAN.
That’s it for this week remember you can always click this button right here to subscribe so you don’t miss any of these vlogs, you can also see more of my journey at www.ironfat.com. I hope you have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye!