Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Turnaround

I haven't had a chance to blog about my running much, because frankly, I haven't had a chance to run much. It has been extremely cold for the last few weeks, and when it is -27 with the wind chill, I take that as a sign from God to train indoors. I know I'm Canadian, and any hardcore Canadian runner might be out there bundled up to face the frigid temperatures, but not this girl. Call me what you want, I run when the temps are not cold enough to make snotcicles on my face.
So this morning, as I set out for my run, it was a balmy -7 outside without wind chill, and funny as it may seem, that felt mild. Well, it did until I could feel that there was a slight wind blowing at my back. There is good reason why the saying "wind at your back" speaks volumes to some people. I have come to really love that saying, and I often wish that on my fellow runners whenever they are going into a race or doing a long run. The saying holds much more weight to it when the wind is blowing at -7 degrees making it feel closer to -15 during your run. So this is me, setting up the scenario for you as I headed out. It was a little cold:)
People ask me ALL the time why I run. I am not even going to scratch the surface on all of the reasons in one single blog, but I will touch on one reason today. Running is full of similes and metaphors...and I mean full of them. Today I want to share what I was feeling and how it relates to many moments that we all sometimes feel in our everyday lives.
I decided when I headed out this morning to do 10k. Sometimes people do timed runs, so they might say,"I am doing a 45 minute run today", and they set out and see how far they get in that time. You can also do sprints, or paced runs, which are great for training purposes, and distance runs, like I did today. I wasn't really pushing my pace, I just wanted to do a comfortable 10k. So when I headed out, the wind was at my back, and it felt like a good run was in store. I was on my usual pace, the roads were dry, and it seemed I had just the right amount of layers of clothing to keep warm, but not sweat too much. All these things matter , especially for winter runs. I had two pairs of socks on, and a neck warmer, the only thing that was really getting cold were my fingers. I have running mitts, but they are not the best. I should have doubled up.  I had a good playlist going today, one that I hadn't listened to for a while, and I was relaxed and feeling good. And then I started to think about the turn around.
See, when I do my long runs, I usually head out of town and run straight out down Jane Road, a nice long straight country road that is about 20km long to the end from my house and back. I train on this road often. I am very familiar with it...not too many dogs, no hills, and most people wave and pull around me as they drive by. I like that about this route.
Today, as I ran out with the wind behind my back, I started to think about how hard it was going to get at the 5k mark when I had to turn around. I seriously thought to myself,"I will just keep running with the wind, and then when I get to 10k, I will call Barry to come and get me!!" There is absolutely nothing wrong with that right? That is a good strong run in the freezing cold. Ten kilometres is a heck of a long way in this weather. He was awake when I left, so I knew he wouldn't mind coming to get me. I hadn't even turned around yet to face the wind, and I was already talking myself out of being able to finish my run.
Has anyone ever said to you, you have to conquer that"head-on". Well, this is probably what they were talking about. Running into the wind is hard. Running into the wind when it is freezing cold outside, is hell. Even though I had all the proper gear, and everything seemed to be in my corner, I knew what it was going to feel like, and I began to talk myself out of  what I was capable of. It hurts to run like that. I mean, it can hurt anyway. My legs can feel painfully tired, or my knees might ache a little, but when you run against the wind in sub-zero temperatures, it's a different kind of pain. My eyes get cold, and then they drip,(and no, thats not me crying!!), and then I can't really see properly. My chest tightens up and the pain from breathing in hurts my nose just as badly. The wind seems to cut my cheeks, and it is hard to stay upright because I think I slowly start bending my body into the fetal position as I feel like death is imminent . And so now you ask me why I feared the turn around.
You will be glad to know that I didn't call for a ride home. I hit the 5k mark, was still feeling good, and just turned myself around on Jane Road and headed home. It was colder, and I was not nearly as comfortable as I was with the wind at my back, but I kept going. I started to think about all the things that were at home waiting for me to make me hurry up, a hot bath, kleenex, food. I always do this. Lots of self talk when I am running to encourage my body to go forward. I met up with someone doing some yard work out in the country, and he yelled out,"Nice day for a run." I barely heard him over my music , but I managed to yell back,"it is indeed". I'm not so sure I meant it in that exact moment, but he was right. It was a very nice day for a run.
This is where I point out the obvious. When we are going along at a nice steady pace, and it feels good, life seems easy. It might not be perfect, but it is  a comfortable state of "good enough". When the wind is at our backs, we don't have to work quite as hard, and it is not really painful for us. But then we start thinking about the turn around. Before it even happens, we can talk ourselves out of what might not be so bad after all. We want someone to come and save us from something that we can conquer ourselves if we put our minds to it. I can't always promise that after the turn around, it will be easy, because for me, it got really hard. But the rewards are much sweeter when you realize you stuck to it and didn't talk yourself out of reaching the goal.
I'm not saying you can't ask for help. There are going to be times when you will need to be picked up off the side of your road. Even when you have all the right gear, and you've done all the right things, it still might be very hard...fetal position hard!! But don't talk yourself out of at least trying. You will find, like I did today, that it isn't always easy, but it is worth it. And there will be people along the road with an encouraging word. And even if you might feel the pain of the struggle "head-on", there is a hot bath and good food at the end of it. Think about what is at your finish line and do some positive self talk to get there.  My strong finish today was with frozen fingers and toes, and a tight chest, but I felt good. I didn't call Barry, I finished my run and I stayed on pace, even amidst the struggles I faced. Everyone can take on the turn around "head on". You can do it.

Here I am after my run this morning. There is a little smile there, if you look hard you can see it :)

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