Some days, getting out for a run is tough. These days, since we have been under stay at home orders, working from home, and seeing race after race we were training for cancelled, it can be even tougher than usual to be motivated to run.
Maybe you are tired and you slept in (guilty). Maybe your schedule for the day is packed and you think, do I really have time to squeeze in my run (guilty again)? Maybe your body is sore from a previous hard workout, but more than capable of doing the run if you have the right mindset (also a favorite of mine). You sit there debating. Here is where grit enters the picture – get those running clothes on, one running shoe on and then the other, and out the door you go.
What do you do? For me, it’s a conversation with myself. If I am driving to my start location, I go back and forth in my head on my way with thoughts like this:
“It will feel great to run once I get going.”
“Maybe I should’ve stayed home and gone later. I can turn around if I want to…”
“I need to get this run in to ___________ (keep in shape, work on my pace, be happy later, eat what I want – to name a few).
Today was one of those days. I am training for a long, hilly bike ride event (RAMROD – Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day, cancelled but I’m doing it anyway) and possibly a 70.3 Half Ironman in September if the race isn’t cancelled due to COVID-19, and maybe the NYC Marathon in November – if it also isn’t cancelled. I am also participating in a virtual swim event, The Big Swim, so I’ve had to start open water swimming lately MUCH more than I had been since pools closed in early March. This week, I had been biking and swimming and running all week, some biking in particular had been pretty intense. I was not excited to do this 10 mile long run today. And then, a little voice in my head said – stick with it, you can do it slow, you can do it however you want – even cut it short – you are running solo! Sold.
I arrived at the trail head, and it was raining – a lot. I get my visor out, adjusted my headphones, did a few other things, and thought ok I am going to get out there soon. Promise. Sure enough the rain soon becomes a drizzle. Ok, it’s go time. Put on your big girl pants and get out there. Grit came knocking, and off I went.
First few steps. My legs feel heavy. Glance at my watch a few minutes later, wow I am going slow. Doubt about doing 10 miles creeps in again. And then – surprise! Two of my friends pass me heading back to their cars at the end of their run – nice to see them, but a reminder I have just started my run. Self-talk begins… I can stop now, but I would feel guilty having drove all the way here. I can go a couple miles and see how I feel. Think about the trees. Look around, people are saying hi and waving. I am overdressed again, getting hot. Come on, keep going. Suck it up buttercup.
So I chugged along. Thinking through so many things in my head. So much going on in the world. The anxiety actually pushes me forward and moving forward brings some calm. Almost half way to the turn around (mile 2.5 woo hoo). Grit pushing me step by step. Legs still heavy. Pace still slow. And finally, I made it to mile 5. Time for a caffeine gel and time to head back – already! Grit had gotten me halfway, time to celebrate briefly and head on back.
The 5 miles back step by step got better as I went. I started to really enjoy the waves and hellos from other walkers and runners. Cute dogs happy to be out, the sound of the river. My mindset had changed so I could focus on the small things that made this run fun. That’s when I know I am winning. Those miles go by faster mentally and in less minutes than the miles on the way out. Back at my car, the accomplishment of getting that run done was sweeter because of the mental and physical strength it took to get it done. Thank you grit.
Grit is courage. Some days we all need it when trying to get out the door. Grit manifests your passion and ability to persevere. Best thing about grit? You can practice it. Anyone can use grit to their advantage on training runs, in races and in everyday life. It’s a skill I practice all the time. And these days, grit is something we need every day to keep keeping on in the ever changing landscape of our world. Practice it running to improve your run. Use it to navigate these unprecedented days of COVID-19. It’s a skill worth having!