“Ugh, why is it always running!?” a little boy exclaimed as he rounded a corner of the sidewalk on his scooter and was faced with a herd of sweaty adults clomping toward him. I belonged to that herd of runners and, after a hot and arduous set of repeats up a hill that looked deceptively small from the bottom but was in fact endless, shared the little boy’s sentiment; why, indeed, is it always running?
I had a really great run on Tuesday- the night we charged up the aforementioned hill. Some days, the gears seem to be turning in sync, and running feels much easier; I have been having more of these days of late, days when I am able to push the discomfort of being sweaty and out of breath aside and focus on going a little faster than feels natural, days when I am actually sad to reach the end of my run.
There are still, however, many days when I hate running. Days when all I can focus on is the fact that I am hot and tired and I wonder if I can sneak back to my car and drive away without anybody noticing. I had two of these days this week, and one of them was today. The hardest part about today’s run was the fact that we ran past our parked cars in the middle of our run, and one member of the group actually did decide to go back to his car and drive home. It was difficult to tell him “See you Tuesday and have a nice weekend” as he walked toward the parking lot when what I really meant was “Take me with you!”
Even on the days when I feel like I’m totally sucking, I’m still faster than I used to be. Our entire group, actually, has gotten faster overall. I’m able to keep up with the “fast” members of our group and I, generally, don’t feel quite so close to death at the end of each run.* We are all becoming faster and fitter, and it is a great feeling to know that, not only am I improving, but that the program is working for everyone, and we are all very different people.
A contributing factor to my crappy running today and on Thursday was the fact that I’m still figuring out how to manage my time so that I am getting in good workouts on the days that I don’t run. This week was a fail for me in the time management department and, because I was tired from long days at work, I didn’t drag myself to the gym as often as I should have. The one day I did make myself go, I merely pedaled the elliptical while I watched a few episodes of Forensic Files; it was better than nothing, but just barely.
One thing that I did really well last week, and have done already this week, is plan healthy meals and make them ahead of time so that I have a higher probability of having time to make it to the gym. I think I’ve finally found the meal planning technique that works best for me, and that is to make one or two dishes on the weekend that we can eat all week. For variety, we make some sort of salad to accompany our main dishes and that keeps us from getting bored. This week’s star is a cauliflower/asparagus soup, and I am looking forward to it.
When I think “healthy” I think of a meal that is made mostly of vegetables and doesn’t have a lot of added fats, sugars or processed ingredients. It has taken some time to train myself not to add cheese to everything I eat and to substitute a salad for a side of sugary, carb-heavy bread (sometimes), but I’m getting there. This week, I’m going to stick to my healthy diet (and avoid the booby-trapped cupboards full of Girl Scout cookies) and make a better effort to drag myself to the gym even if I am tired and traffic is bad and I get home from work wanting only to snuggle with my dog and cat.
*By “keep up” with the fast runners, I mean that I can see them for the entire duration of the run instead of just glimpsing them as they disappear over the crest of a hill in the distance.