The ELEMENTS of running

Running in Calgary is a HUGE feat compared to running in Phoenix. Why?  Elevation, Elevation, Elevation.  Not only have I had a tough time out here trying to manage some new pain, but my running “baseline” has taken an extreme dip.  The most frustrating aspect about running is that if you don’t keep running on a continuous basis, you have to start all over again.  I have had a tough summer: no job offers yet, a long visit with in-laws,  and  a horrible case of pneumonia that left me unable to even check in (doctors orders) at the gym for 3 weeks.

Last week I made a commitment that my running BASE building had to start getting serious.  Although I have yet to receive the final results of my last set of chest x-rays, I said to Clorinda “I have to get moving.  How can I start racing if I can’t even develop my cardio lung capacity ” She like any other great supportive partner was in agreement and also wanted to get back on track. Since that day, we haven’t missed a run.

My theory is that I have to build my base knowing exactly what my distance is and what my pace is.  That means, I do this intense type of work on a treadmill rather than outside. I set a distance goal and then proceed to work on achieving that goal within a certain time frame.  Each time I step on the treadmill, I set my intention to beat the last time recorded in my workout diary.

I am certainly not saying its easy because the last few days have revealed that it’s actually HELL. What was so easy before is presenting a more difficult mental and physical challenge.  I often tell a number of my clients “don’t focus on the run, set your intention on the completion of the run – MENTALLY.”  I find that running is a mental challenge that tests your inner drive.

Although I wasn’t feeling physically ready and willing to run when I stepped on the treadmill today, my mindset was focused on the task at hand.  I started at my normal warm-up pace, then gradually increased my speed as I got more set into the motion.  I pushed and I pushed.  I managed to cut 20 seconds off my 5K, however with that came the awkward dizzy/nausea spell that caused me to pause the treadmill.  “CRAP!” Frustrated and disappointed, I started to visualize not racing to my potential.  I let my mind wander and take me to a place of failure rather than a place of encouragement.

I really wanted to quit, but beside me was my reminder that I just have to keep moving forward and the base will eventually prevail.  There Clorinda was running along at her comfortable pace.  She wasn’t pushing it like her intense strong-willed Type A partner, she was just enjoying her workout.  So with that reminder, I pumped the treadmill back up to a good comfortable speed and kept on.  I finished with 4 miles under my belt and a good ride on the bike.

We got in the car after 10 minutes of stretching and talked about the Calgary elevation and how taxing it feels.  We went on about how frustrating it gets and complained.  Clearly we failed to remind ourselves that the sweltering miserable heat in Arizona can cause skin cancer and made us get up at 4:30 AM to do our runs.  Hmm, now what was there to complain about again?

Make it Count by accepting the elements and keep trying

Ashley Stevenson