The title (and, um, theme) of this post are pretty shamelessly stolen from this blog post by Sarah of Running Starfish, which happens to capture a surprising amount of today’s maelstrom of running-related feelings.
But first: the maelstrom of wind, which woke me up at 4:30 this morning and dashed my hopes of running on the track. Instead, D and I headed to the gym, where the plan was to warm up, run four mile-long intervals at 10:15 with 90” of rest between each one, do a couple of quick sprints, and cool down.
I’ve had a variation of this workout—always between three and five reps, always on Thursdays—on my calendar 9 of the past 13 weeks. I’ve successfully completed it—and only the shortest version of it—just three times.
It is my monster, and it keeps defeating me.
This morning, I was struggling by the time I hit the second interval—that panicky, looking-at-the-watch-too-often, sweaty desperation that hits me almost every time I get on a treadmill. I tried to shake it off and managed to get through most of the third interval before I looked at my Garmin, but by then I had started bargaining with myself:
For the fourth interval, all you have to do is get through one song, and then you can decide if you want to run through a second song. Unless the second song is Ke$ha, and then you have to keep running.
This seemed fair, since 85% of today’s playlist was Ke$ha. And then the first song of the fourth interval was Ke$ha, which for some reason seemed to fly in the face of my new plan, and my muscles were burning and I was so fucking sweaty and D was finished with his workout and waiting for me in the lobby, and then I was bumping the speed down because I was afraid I’d trip over my tired legs and fly off the back of the treadmill, and then I was running a 10:50 mile instead of a 10:15 mile, and then I wasn’t running at all because it just didn’t seem worth it and I wanted more than anything—more than the satisfaction of completing the last three quarters of a mile, more than knowing I was stronger than the stupid treadmill, more than (maybe? who knows?) a PR or the mental toughness that will get me through this marathon that sticking it out might have given me—to be done.
I guess this is where my story differs from Sarah’s. She gutted it out and finished her speedwork, even though it was slow and awful, and I gave up. She slept on the angst and managed to come up with a list of pros, and I’m still wallowing in it.
I don’t understand why I can’t lay down on the treadmill what I can do—faster, and more happily—on the roads. I don’t understand why two and a half months ago I was able to feel so excited and do so much more with the same plan. I’m frustrated that I used to just bang similar workouts out, and now I freak out about them for 24 hours in advance, and I’m even more frustrated that when the running gets tough, instead of getting even tougher, I have started to quit.
This workout is my monster, and it frightens me. It also keeps growing—five repeats next week—along with my fear, and I don’t know how to get on top of it and just do the damn thing.