Not the words I planned on thinking seven miles into my 10-mile run this morning. Yet, as my Sunday morning running group slowly pulled away from me on a long straightaway headed directly into the rising sun, those are the words that my mind decided to use.
It’s interesting how quickly I jumped to “I suck.”
I know that’s not true. First, I’ve made tremendous improvement in the past year. Even this morning’s run, which didn’t feel easy at any point, would have been much more of a struggle a year ago. Today, the heat and humidity put the real-feel temperature in the low 90s. I’m also coming off slightly more than a month of easy running and recovery; I even took a three-week break. So I know I’m not in peak training shape. So I should have been happy to be out on the road and preparing for a new training season.
Instead, I let the negativity become a mental avalanche. “I suck” quickly turned into: “I’m in terrible shape, I’m not going to reach my goals this fall, and I’m never going to be faster than I ran this past year. I’ve peaked.”
All of those thoughts are silly. I know, barring injury or a focus shift to more recreational running, I can and will get faster. But my brain insisted on torturing me with pessimistic clutter.
So what do I do now?
I think back to the most important thing running has taught me: one day won’t change anything.
When I first started my transformation into a runner, I wanted home-run success. I expected one hard workout to lead to multiple PRs, one effort to make me invincible.
Anyone who has tried that approach will tell you its folly.
While I obviously still struggle with the concept, I now know results are never immediate. Fighting through my terrible run today won’t bring me glory in the Portland Marathon on October 9. One hill session, track workout or long run will do little to help me grasp my goal paces.
But when I put them together continually, week on week, I will climb that ladder.
So today I ignored how hard I was working simply to keep my running buddies in sight. I stopped thinking about how much I suck right now. I halted the negative barrage.
I decided to enjoy the struggle. I know it will help me, albeit a minuscule amount.
After all, my fall marathon training plan starts tomorrow. I’ll need all the positive momentum I can get.