I started week 8 of the 10 week 10k training today. I'm starting to feel a little intimidated, but am choosing to see that as a good sign. :) This week's intervals are four sets of 14min/run + 1min/walk, for a total of about 70 minutes of actual time when you factor in warm-ups and cool downs. My body was feeling more sluggish and achey than usual, which I can attribute to several factors. First being that the last two weeks I've only done 2 of 3 runs for each week, making this the second week in a row where I've "jumped ahead" rather than taking an extra day and getting behind on my training. Getting behind isn't a huge deal, I'll have two whole extra weeks to get training once I complete the official training plan. I've been pushing myself to keep with the flow of things more to keep my mind engaged. Secondly, I took my run after three days of no exercise (aside from chasing a toddler around) which happened to include traveling for Labor Day - which always means junk food and bbqs and lots more soda than I'm happy to admit. I'm falling out of love with Taco Bell... it's totally cramping my style (haha). Thirdly, on top of jumping ahead after skipping a run and having a weekend full of sitting around and eating junk, I also set the treadmill on the higher incline (just 1%) and increased my speed slightly (from 4mph to 4.2mph). Those changes themselves didn't seem like a huge difference... but on top of the other two factors, it all adds up to one sluggish run.
Then there's the mental component. Jumping from 9 minute intervals to 14 minute intervals was really getting to me, mentally. Those old voices of doubt were sneaking in as soon as I woke up this morning. Can I really do this? Maybe I should just finish week 7? I don't know if this is a good idea! I tried reassuring myself by focusing on the fact that there were only FOUR sets instead of SIX. Time feels really relative when I'm running anyway - as long as I'm not watching a clock - so if I could just focus on that then I'd be fine. That helped - but I found myself still facing those voices anyway.
So I was having a sluggish run and battling those voices of doubt. I noticed during my first run my mind was wandering all over the place and my form was really sloppy. I was running like I did back in grade school - the sort of run that just screams, "I feel sorry for myself that I'm running, and you should too!" It occurred to me that things were getting hard again, after almost a month of running feeling fun and easy. I was actually a little excited to realize that things were getting hard again. It means I'm growing... or at least that I have the opportunity to grow if I handle it correctly. So in the face of a sluggish run, a wandering and doubt-filled mind, and a pity-party sort of funk, I made a choice: this is when I need to focus. I started reminding myself of how far I've come, how much I've grown and accomplished. Instead of playing that, "I don't know if I can do this" tape in my head over and over, I replaced it with, "I AM doing this! I'm strong and I'm getting stronger with each step." And I dropped the pansy-whiner-baby-running form and engaged my core, dropped my shoulders and tried to "think tall" so my head wasn't slouching.
I remember the last time things were hard like this - when I first started running back in April. I learned some amazing skills by sticking with running through those difficult workouts. I learned how to replace doubt and fear with truth. I learned how to carry myself with strength and dignity. It was invigorating to feel those skills just sort of rise out of me when I hit the hard part today. It gives me hope that I can do this!
Now to translate that same principle into action in my spiritual life. I'm asking the Lord to help me apply these lessons to my heart in a very real way. The verse from 1 Timothy comes to mind;
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather, train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
I'm going to do some soul-searching and some listening (to the Spirit of God... it's so humbling that He speaks to us) and will keep you all posted on what I learn. :) It'd be really nice to have that all figured out and be able to put it in one nice little blog... haha. But this is what you get for now. Anyone who loves Jesus can go ahead and ask Him to lead me - I'd love to know your praying for me!