Thursday, December 15, 2011

Itchy and guilty, but rested and ready.

According to my apparently somewhat initially overambitious training program, I was supposed to run 6 miles yesterday and 8 today. I found my way to a treadmill on my lunch hour yesterday for the 6 miler. I had two problems:

1) I was just tired and was feeling the residual effects from my runs this past weekend, and
2) whenever I run at lunch it stresses me out that I need to get back to the office.

The end result was that I cut my run short. 

My plan for today was to run outside tonight after I got home. Then I got home and the kids were cute and my wife didn't have to run out for a meeting or work out so I decided I would rather hang out with the family before the kids went to bed. I was able to rationalize that it would let me recover and recouperate in preparation for another long weekend full of early morning runs. With my decision made, I set about enjoying my evening of family togetherness.

It was certainly time well spent, however I discovered a couple of things as the evening progressed. I felt very guilty for not running. This was not a new sensation for me, as I have frequently bailed on a workout when I didn't have a training partner to push me. Usually I am able to rationalize this pretty easily. However I wasn't able to do that this time. This is due to the fact that even though Leadville is about 9 months away I still feel tremendous pressure to train and prepare. Also, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to publicly* hold myself accountable to my training schedule.  (*Not too sure how public this is. It's a lot like being a DJ on a small college radio station.  I'm talking, but there is very little evidence that anyone is paying attention.)

So, I'm full of guilt for bailing on my weekday run. However, thanks to an upbringing where guilt was liberally applied in lieu of corporal punishment, I can handle the guilt.   This is due in large part to an over developed ability to rationalize.  I have been a big fan of rationalizations for many years. I think the power of the rationalization was best explained by Jeff Goldblum here. 

What did surprise me was that I felt restless and itchy. Not literally, I don't need any calamine lotion or anything. I just felt like I was missing something. Once I recognized that I was irritable, it didn't take me long to figure out that I was missing my run. This was surprising, in a very pleasant way. As I have said, I have always been pretty slack with my training. (For instance, for the iron distance triathlon I did in October, I made it to the pool about 5 times in the 6 months leading up to the race. That is some serious slacking.)  In the last few weeks I have gone from running three days a week, at the most, to running at least 5 days a week, with much higher mileage. My legs are struggling to keep up. I realize that's the idea as I have to train myself to run on tired legs. As my very smart wife pointed out to me today, I just don't have to do it all in the first two weeks. The upshot of my epiphany this evening is that a day off was just what I needed to feel rested and fired up to run this weekend and that my power to rationalize is growing weaker the closer I get to August.

I'm sure I will mourn the loss of my super ability to rationalize in the short term but I know that, in the long run, I will be much better off.  I wonder if there is a 12 step program for rationalization addicts.

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