What’s your go-to excuse after struggling through a tough track workout?
It’s the heat and humidity. My legs were already tired. I haven’t run that hard in a month, so I’m rusty. My stomach was acting up. I have a race coming up, so I was taking it easy.
I’ve used every one of those at some point. This morning, as I struggled to catch my breath early in my workout, my mind immediately rattled off three of those five thoughts (no stomach issues today, and thankfully I’m not racing this weekend).
I tried to justify how terrible I felt.
But guess what. The track didn’t care. It offered zero sympathy, no comforting words or encouragement. Nothing but laps of agony.
Track workouts can be cruel. They look and sound easy at first. Written down, what’s intimidating about a bunch of numbers? And as Shreveport’s Wednesday Morning Track group gathered at the 50-yard line this morning, the prescribed ladder workout didn’t seem threatening.
But a few minutes in, on the way up the ladder, I knew I was in trouble. I struggled to hold pace through the first 600-meter repeat and couldn’t catch my breath in the 200-meter recovery after it. I knew it would get tougher with a 800-meter and 1,000-meter sections before I could go back down the ladder.
So how do you react when a workout is winning? In the past, I’ve been more likely to drop off completely, mentally criticizing myself with every stride.
Today, however, I tried to recognize what was happening and adjust for the best possible outcome. I took my time on my recoveries, making sure I was breathing regularly and ready to go as hard as possible on my next repetition.
I still had a lot of negative thoughts, all centering around feeling out of shape and not being on track to reach my goals — specifically Firecracker 5K on the Fourth of July.
But everything will be OK. I’m reminded myself that I’m still just in week 1 of my fall buildup. I shouldn’t be in racing shape at this point. I probably won’t start feeling strong again for several weeks.
So what can I do when the track offers no quarter?
I’m going to accept my fate and improve, knowing it will get better.
For now, however, the track has given me a rude welcome back to weekly training.