A Love-Hate Relationship With Running

I may have started running to fit into my jeans, but I grew to love like it. Maybe it’s a love-hate relationship. Learning to run has been rewarding not only in terms of losing some unwanted jelly belly, but it is one of the most straightforward ways I have found to feel like I’ve accomplished something, which is not always easy to do in this day and age.

photo courtesy of pixabay
photo courtesy of pixabay

We’ve been following the running plan at Breaking Muscle and last week we were doing intervals of 12 minutes running / 3 minutes walking 3 times. The total running time was 36 minutes. I was downright shocked that I moved from running 8 minutes / walking 2 minutes 4 times without a big problem (like collapsing of exhaustion mid-run). As we walked to the park prior to the first run of the 12 min / 3 min interval I thought my husband was going to have to scrape me off the pavement by the end.

Last week, however, the weather lightened up a bit – the temperature cooled down and the humidity dissipated. We still needed to hydrate mid-run, but we could run more comfortably. Combined with my hubby and I actually running together, last week was a really great week and I was pretty impressed with how well we did.

The good fortune has been with us this week as well. Monday evening the wind was incredibly strong the whole time we ran in the park and it really helped us move to our new interval of 14 minutes running / 3 minutes walking 3 times. According to the plan over at Breaking Muscle we should run 13 minutes / walk 2 minutes this week, so why the deviation? Why change the running plan yet again? Despite the cooler temperatures, it’s still hot and I felt like it would be better to extend the running rather than reduce the walking time where we can cool down a little and take a sip of water. I’m up for a challenge, but I don’t want to go overboard in the heat. I’ll save it for Autumn.

All was fine on Monday at the new, longer time until the 3rd interval, more specifically the last 6 minutes. I’ve really enjoyed using intervals to get into running. Even though we increase the running time every week I have never felt like I can’t physically accomplish it. But, as we run longer and longer I’m realizing more and more that being in the right head space is half the battle, which was particularly true on Monday’s run.

The last interval of 14 minutes was good, at first, but in the last 6 minutes I began to mentally struggle. It took all of my will-power to keep going. I don’t think the difference between mental and physical could have been more prominent. I skipped to an upbeat song on my mp3 player (thanks Taylor Swift) to keep me going and tried really, really hard not to check the time incessantly. I was even counting the trees we passed so as to pre-occupy my mind. Of course, I couldn’t not look and around the start of the last minute of the whole thing, minute 41 to 42, I felt like I had reached my physical limit. The difference in the longer intervals suddenly made its presence known.

The total running time this week for our runs is now 42 minutes, up from last week’s 36 minutes, so it’s no wonder that the final 6 minutes of Monday’s run was challenging both physically and mentally, but I’m actually more excited about the running we’ll do next week.

Our friends who have a bulldog, the same friends we were on our way to visit when I had to buy jeans that were way too tight, are going out of town for 10 days and need us to stay at their place and look after their elderly pooch. I’m ecstatic that we get to have a dog for a week. I love dogs. However, I’m also excited to stay at their place, because they have a treadmill and an elliptical machine. It’s going to be nice to change it up a bit, plus running in air conditioning when you feel like you’re running through mud in the humidity is far more desirable. AND there’s the added bonus of running and watching TV, my own little fantasy come true. I think I’ll miss the park, but I’m happy about the coming week.

How do you mentally approach running, especially those tough parts?


5 thoughts on “A Love-Hate Relationship With Running

  1. Same as you did, with mental tricks. The great Paula Radcliffe counts to 100. I count to 4 matching my cadence. When I was heavier, I used to imagine a rope around objects in the distance (trees, benches, lines on the ground) and pretend like my mind was reeling me in.
    At this point, it really is just your mind that’s the weakest link. You’ve barely scratched the surface of the true abilities of your body.


      1. it’ll probably be back and forth as you push your limits farther and farther – but nonetheless trending up. I find that my mind is biased towards experience. if I know I ran x miles in y minutes, then I know next time that it’s achievable and feel more comfortable with the run. hence, runs are just building blocks for the next one.


      2. Every time it is the first run of a longer interval the extra minutes are always mentally more difficult. Like my brain is saying “hey, what’s with this extra running? Last time was 12 mins. What’s with this 14 mins all of a sudden?” But I am glad to hear that I am not the only one counting random stuff to keep going. At least I am not crazy.


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