Monday, April 7, 2008


I forgot to mention something that happened on Saturday in my previous post; it bears reporting...
(warning, this might get a little weird)

Saturday's workout called for 3 hours ride time with some climbing intervals done while standing. I did them on my single speed mountain bike and, if you've never ridden single speed, it's difficult to ride one for a long time simply due to the effort they require when climbing. On top of that, I fast before workouts like this, a trick I learned from Xterra World Champion Conrad Stoltz, so by the time I was done riding, I was significantly fatigued. But that's not the epiphany...

After the ride, I had a 30 minute transition run scheduled with negative splits: faster coming back than heading out. I was tired, but never considered not doing it; I told myself I'd get it done no matter how slow it might end up being.

Off and running; the legs are ticking over like clockwork and I can feel my feet lightly striking the ground as I jog down the fire road. My breathing is slightly labored and maintaining even an easy pace feels like my lungs and cardio are working over time to keep up with the demands of my legs. Considering I'd have to increase the pace on the way back, I was sure the return trip would be very, very painful. At the 16-minute mark, I turn around and head back, increasing my pace...

...and it hurts. My lungs burn, my legs burn, it's hard to breathe, my face is screwed up in pain and sticking to this pace is the last thing I want to do. Coming up on the 25 minute mark in the run and for no reason at all, something occurs to me suddenly: Why am I making such a big deal out of this?...and I can't think of an answer...yeah it hurts, but why make a stupid face?....why breathe so loud?...again, no answers to either of these questions...

...and I did something so simple and obvious that I'm shocked I'd never thought of it before; I quit making a big deal out of being uncomfortable, out of working hard and out of going fast.

And my face and upper body relaxed, my breathing eased and I suddenly felt I could run at that uncomfortable pace for as long as I chose to do so. My legs still burned like fire, but I no longer cared. It was both strange and wonderful all at once.

My biggest limiter is the one I place on myself. I have the capacity to perform better (read: go faster) than I choose to do. Why do I do that? I'm not sure. Frequently in my life I put up artificial barriers to my success, almost as if I'm afraid to succeed or like I don't feel I deserve to be as fast as my fitness allows. Perhaps exploring it here can help me to move beyond it. I hope so. Whatever the reason may be, I partially broke down that barrier that day.

I'm looking forward to finding that mental place again.
Thanks for reading.


jameson said...

running hard off the bike is mental. there is no question it sucks, it hurts, and you are going to suffer. It just comes down to how willing you are to suffer.

it's going to suck whether you are running fast or slow... but the faster you go the sooner will be done! That's my motivation!

Jim Vance said...

The last paragraph is what I've been trying to get you to realize for the past year. Glad you are starting to see it. It's all about mindset and attitude.