When I was paring down all of the calendar pages on my wall at the beginning of the year I tried not to judge or second guess what I kept and what I let go of. Some of them resonated but gave me no explanation as to why they got to stay. It was just a gut thing. This calendar page Harder Faster Stronger Runner most certainly fell into that category. Nevertheless, this was the game: you don't have to understand it, you just have to feel it. If you feel it, keep it. So it got fresh tape and went back on the wall.
I've looked at it many times over the past six months, still never sure what it's supposed to be telling me. And then today as I scanned the wall it caught my attention. This, for sure, was the page for today's post.
The last two years something changed about my running. Really, in restrospect, I think the whole experience of the pandemic had a bigger impact on me than I realized. My job in the organization I worked for was eliminated, which was a blessing in many ways, but also a bit scary. Everything was up in the air, including running. We were in the gym and out of the gym as the virus plateaued and surged. I continued with my coach and we stayed in close touch, but there were no races and it wasn't the usual atomosphere of training. It was a big life reset, and somewhere along the way I stopped practicing the push muscle I had built--not the literal one, the mental one. Just like you build fitness by small daily choices, I lost some mental fitness by small daily choices. And without many races to test my prowess, I didn't quite realize it was happening. Plus, I was engaging in challenges like the Everest Challenge and the Burpee New Year Challenge and dipping my toe into the ultra world, . But those were slow and grindy and on my terms. You don't go to the well in the same way you do when you step on a race start line, or the same way you do when you are training for that start line. Without knowing it I was slowly slipping down the slope. Now I'm waking up to the realization that I'm not as fast as I was two years ago, and I can't quite remember how to keep the throttle down for workouts. I started to believe that I've permanently lost something, and I entertained the easy out: I guess I'm just getting older.
I mentioned to my coach a couple of weeks ago that I was feeling a little washed up, which earned me a couple of intervals outside. He wasn't buying it, and the only way to prove it was by having me dig in and feel it for myself. And as I ran hard and felt a little rust shake off, somewhere down deep I knew I wasn't buying it either.
New plan: Wednesday strength day with him is now hard interval day with him. I was terrified for the first one last week, but like some kind of magic I broke through two years of back peddling. Another reminder from my coach on cross training day that to get my heart rate up on the bike I was going to have to engage my mind and dig in--that's code for discomfort. But I did it--I found that next gear and shook more rust off.
And now today we've come around to another Wednesday--no less scared but way more dialed in, way more mentally prepared to push, and I showed up ready to work. I showed up for myself, as my coach says-- and he's right, I did. That's what has been missing from my workouts--me! I've been going through the motions and then all of a sudden one day I'm wondering why I don't have the results I want. Because I never showed up to collect them, that's why.
Harder Faster Stronger Runner is my new mantra for Wednesday. I still don't know if I can break that down to make any real sense, but it's like a call to action and when I hear it I dial in and know what to do again. I am so wasted and so happy after these hard efforts--I'm on Cloud 9. And the best part is I don't have to save it for Wednesday workout. Harder Faster Stronger Runner can serve as a call to action in any part of my life where I need to dig in or re-engage.
Harder Faster Stronger Runner = Harder Faster Stronger Diane.
Thank goodness that calendar page made the cut.