Easier, but never easy

Running is certainly easier now than it used to be  (circa December 1999 I wanted to collapse after about 400 meters…), but on a day-to-day basis, is it easy? No way. Sure, there are some magical and rare times when I pop out of bed at 6am or finish a long day at work and feel like running 10 miles.

Okay, actually…. I’m not sure that has ever happened. But my point is – even though this is an activity that I enjoy overall, it still takes a lot of effort to get myself out the door. Despite numerous cups of coffee, I was still feeling drained by the end of work yesterday. But I know that seeing my running friends and getting in some sweaty miles usually energizes me, so I dragged myself to the gym. I put my stuff in a locker, changed into my running gear, and started jogging my warm-up. Hadn’t I just done the hardest part? Wasn’t it supposed to get fun now?

Um no. 15 minutes into my warm-up and I still felt like taking a nap right in the middle of Central Park. I met up with my running club, but decided to skedaddle after the coach gave his weekly talk. I was in no mood to do this workout. Usually I’m not one to “listen to my body” because my body always tells me to hit the snooze button or eat another cookie, however this seemed like one of those rare times it would be a good idea to just call it a day.

But, thennn my running buddy S rolled up and I decided to just see how I felt for a mile or two. The assigned workout was a 6 mile tempo at half marathon pace (with an additional 1k pick up at the end, which I did NOT do). I felt okay once we started running, but still…my head was just not in the game. At about the 2.75 mile mark, I announced “Okay ladies, I’m stopping when we get to mile 3”.

Well, mile 3 comes and I decide “What-the-heck, just one more mile…”. By the time we rounded the Harlem Hills, we were 4.5 miles into the workout and so I decided to just suck it up and run the whole $%^* thing. My struggle was definitely a mental one. As evidenced by the splits, physically I was in fine condition to do a workout. The Harlem Hills slowed me down a bit (ahem mile 4), but I managed to finish the tempo without feeling like I exerted myself too much and I’m pretty sure I could have run sub-7:00 pace for these 6 miles had I not been so out of it.

After my warm-up (1.5 miles) and cool-down (2 miles), I ended up running 9.5 miles total. So. What was going on last night? Was I just being whiny and grumpy? Yeah, probably.  But also, sometimes I just don’t feel like running. Maybe I’m tired or mentally exhausted from work. Maybe my stomach hurts or I’d rather be meeting your lady friends for happy hour. I’ve come to expect that I will feel this way and sometimes the only thing I can do is push on. I suppose the point of this post is to say that training gets easier, but it’s never easy. Becoming better is a lot of work and sometimes you won’t be pumped up about the day-to-day grind. I wish I had an answer or remedy for that, but I don’t. So I just put on my running shoes and hope for the best.

And maybe bribe myself with something delicious once I’m finished.

My friend Meggie is having a bake sale tomorrow, Saturday October 1st from 1-4pm to benefit pediatric cancer research. If you live in NYC, you should come down to Washington Sq Park (or inside the NYU Kimmel Center  if it rains…) and buy lots of sweet things.

For example, sweet things like THIS:

Yes, I made these. Now go buy them.

I prepared a tray of Rice Krispies treats, cut them into squares, dipped them in chocolate, and covered in sprinkles. Recipe inspiration provided by the Kellogg’s website. My trick is to add a tsp or so of canola oil to the chocolate as I melt it – I find that it helps the chocolate set up a little better (i.e. harden up).

And so at midnight, I found myself with melted chocolate in my hair, sprinkles in my stove burners (don’t ask), tired legs, and in a much better state of mind. I’m calling yesterday a win.

What’s your favorite bake sale treat? Pretty sure I’m going to purchase enough tomorrow to give myself diabetes. Joking. Sort of. Not really.

  • Those rice crispy treats look amazing! I can’t wait to buy lots of delicious things tomorrow at the bake sale 🙂

  • RunTheLongRoad

    so very true.  when your head is just not in the game, that’s when running buddies are the best!

    i hope it doesn’t rain for meggie’s bake sale!  i love chocolate chip cake.  the more chocolate chips, the better!

  • Sarah

    I totally understand how you feel. Every week I have to leave myself little post-it notes all over my room to psych myself up for my tempo run (which I always completely dread). Otherwise I go out with a bad mindset and wind up selling myself short, never running as fast or as long as I could if I weren’t so negative from the beginning. The post-it notes help a lot though! They remind me why I’m making myself do this, and why I love running even though the particular run ahead of me that morning is going to hurt. A lot.

    My favorite bake sale treat is and always will be chocolate chip cookies. You can’t beat the classics, right? 

  • Those are adorable treats! Totally worth crazy late night chocolate hair. 🙂 I always feel like mentally tough runs are so powerful in the training cycle. THey really build you up for that next race bc hell, if you can survive a crappy, torturous run, you can survive a marathon!

  • You bake for me and you pace me? You are a SAINT!!! Also, this is my official application for Runners Kitchen pacing duties. I will bake choc chip m and m cookies for you after. Or maybe a week later. I would bring them on the course, but I don’t think I have enough pockets in my shorts for that.

    I know what you mean about sometimes not wanting to do a workout – especially a tempo run. I always just try to give it my best effort and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes my best effort may not be my absolute best because I’m tired, I have a lot of school work, etc, but its my best for that DAY.

  • Ooh, love the canola oil trick. I think I’ll have to try that with chocolate-covered strawberries next time. Those rice crispy treats look insanely good. If I didn’t live on the opposite coast, I’d buy some!

  • Anonymous

    I bought one of your treats at the bake sale yesterday! I shall sample it today. So glad we got to run a bit together yesterday!

  • My goodness, thank you for this post.
    My third marathon is this weekend and despite qualifying for Boston, training for a year and a half religiously, blah, blah, blah, this past week my runs have been TOUGH. Dragging ass tough. It’s always nice to hear from other runners that it’s not always zen moments, feeling strong, and excitment to head out for a run 🙂

  • Man, those days are the worst. But grinning and bearing it though those runs are what builds character and the toughness we need for racing!
    Great workout though! FAST! Love it.
    Hope the bake sale went well! My favorite treats are obviously cupcakes and those peanut butter cookies with the hershey kisses in the middle.

  • I’m pretty sure it’s the hard “why doesn’t this feel better??” days that make those fabulous days that much more fabulous…if it was easy, everyone would do it.

    Which is why we can eat brownies and chocolate chip cookies…

  • Jen

    “Usually I’m not one to ‘listen to my body’ because my body always tells me to hit the snooze button or eat another cookie…

    hahaha so true. story of my life. first-time commenter…love your blog!

  • I love this post! I’ve actually been thinking about this fact more often than usual these days. I think when you first start running, there’s this perception that it’s bound to get easy someday. And you look at all those runners who can run faster or further than you and think that it must be effortless for them. It can be a bit discouraging when you finally figure out that it doesn’t actually ever get easy!

    But I guess that’s part of why we stick with it. Some days are total struggles, but then those awful days make the good ones that much better. Great job sticking with the workout! I’m not sure if I would’ve been so strong in this situation…