The Power of Paper and Pen

Another title for this post could be “how running is a mostly bipolar experience.” Anyways, here’s how the last two days went down.



The theme of today’s run was “Ungrateful Brat.”

Wednesday was moderately hot and humid, with temps approaching 80 and maybe about 60% humidity. I had some qualms using the weather as an “excuse,” mainly because I grew up being told never to blame the weather as “it was the same for your opponent [tennis].” While I no longer have opponents, that mindset has stuck, leading me to believe if I was just a tad bit tougher, I wouldn’t let heat and humidity slow me down.

I felt pretty stiff and slow on my warm-up, but that’s pretty much par for the course for me. If I ever had a good warm-up before a match, I got worried.

The workout was 2 x 2 miles at MP, which usually is pretty low stress. There’s a break in this workout. I just had to focus on getting to the next break and I was golden. [MP for a 3:35 marathon would be 8:12, for a reference value. I usually round to 8:15 to keep it simple.]

Mile 1 goes ok. – 8:18. Mile 2 is when the negative chatter creeps in – 8:39.  The negative thought train creeps in ever so slightly, then envelops me like one of those dementors in Harry Potter, sucking the running joy right out of me. I stop once during this mile in an effort to regroup, which is thwarted by the doubt demons. Mile 3 is when I start planning how I am going to write a “it just wasn’t my day” sob story in my log. I stop once again during this mile to try and redirect my thoughts, which was highly unsuccessful. Mile 4 goes the same as mile 3. Those miles were 8:22 and 8:24. I contemplate just quitting the workout and jogging home, but decide to stick it out. I do walk the cool down mile home. My hips are stiff. I’m almost certain I will have arthritic hips by age 40.

I look to my log to find some sort of answers. Am I overtraining? Not even close– 31 miles last week. Too little sleep? Nope, reaping the benefit of the last month of my research year, clocking usually 8 hours of sleep. Am I plateauing? Reached my peak? Need to accept that I just won’t be able to run any faster? I hope not, but possibly. Am I sick? Depressed? In need of 16 Handles?

I’m mad at myself for succumbing to the doubt demons. Mad that I’ve gone from the “thankful to run” place to “why am I so bad?!?” mindset so quickly.  Mad that I’m not thankful in this moment that I can run and got to try that workout. Mad that it seems I lost every mental gain I made during my injury so quickly. Mad that I let one bad workout rattle me.

Fully intend on not running Thursday.  Decided I sort of hate running, but more so my ambition to be a faster runner. Ambition can deter enjoyment. Yep, that’s my problem, too ambitious. Scale back the goals, Meggie . Don’t dream so big. Let’s get realistic here.

Fully intend on not running Thursday.  A rest day should do the trick, huh?


Text from Erika- she’s back in NYC for the summer! Set up a run, midday, around 4 miles.

It’s a beautiful day, still warm, but the humidity is less palpable.

I do a lot of foam rolling, hip mobilizations, dynamic stretching, and a few PT/activation exercises before our run.

4.5 miles flies by, the run feels effortless, the conversation is fantastic (Erika has been away at business school – Harvard! – since August).

I tell her about the 5K revolution, and she agrees that the marathon is too long. She tells me about mergers and acquisitions and other fancy things she learned up there at HBS. (ok, not mergers and acquisitions, but those are the only business terms I know besides “private equity,” “distress debt,” “hedge fund,” and, my favorite, “exotic funds,” which does not mean accounts in the tropics, I’ve learned.)

I decide I don’t hate running so much after all.  In fact, running is great. Maybe the sky is the limit again. Who knows? I don’t care much, all I know is that I had a great time.


EVENING OF 5/31/12:

Bust out Believe I Am Training Journal.

Let all my feelings out on paper.

Devise a plan:

1. Must figure out a way to redirect thoughts in workouts. that does not require physically stopping – haven’t figured this one out, yet, and unfortunately I haven’t mastered the patronus charm yet (defense against dementors, duh).

2. Must remember to do PT exercises/activations/mobilizations before running. Must do more to warm up the engine before a workout.

3. Adjust expectations with conditions (thanks to RC/RCF for reminder on this one).

4. Must harness ambition and use it to fuel me without compromising my enjoyment, find a way to balance being driven to become better while mostly having fun.

There is so much power in pen and paper.


Today’s run was pretty great for me.

Until next time..


15 thoughts on “The Power of Paper and Pen

  1. and i love that in the end u end on a positive note: today’s run was pretty great! running is so mental and now u’ve made big steps in acknowledging that u did snap quickly into negative thinking mode. that’s okay we are all human, and u did the smart thing and are looking for ways to get over that tendency. next time u’re in the middle of a hard workout and u feel like u’re slipping into bad thoughts remind urself how u felt after doing that last time (not happy with urself) and then try a mantra like, “i am strong, i can do this.” just a suggestion. 🙂 have a great day and keep up the great work!

  2. Wow! I had these same exact feelings this past week during my runs! First had the feeling of I’m never going to get faster bc the humidity was killing me and I let it get me down thinking I may be giving up running! Then realizing I should be greatful that I can run! Followed by having a great run that seemed effortless, followed by feeling of being able to conquer lightening fast speeds(well not really!)
    I love reading your blogs!

    • me too! and literally on the same days- Wednesday was lame and I totally botched my tempo run because it was hot and I was feeling sweaty and whiny, then yesterday I had an 8 mile run, part of which I ran with a friend, and felt amazing!!! just gotta remember, there’s always a better run on the horizon 🙂

  3. Yes to this! why is running so mental sometimes? Sometimes I do wish I wasn’t so goal-oriented and type A because that can take the fun out of a run if I let it. Right now I’m actually having fun learning about different speed workouts and trying them out (I don’t think I’m experienced enough in them to even know if I “failed”). Best run I’ve had is probably last weekend’s race – loved it! And sad I missed seeing you!!

  4. This is exactly how I felt during last week’s speedwork. Cursing myself for thinking I could run fast, wondering why the hell I thought that running was fun when it clearly wasn’t, and why did I want to run faster anyway? It happens to all of us. And then we get the runners high …

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