When somebody says to me - and in my line of work as a fitness trainer, I hear this A LOT - that they're not competitive, what I hear is, "I am afraid."
I'm afraid it's going to be hard work.
I'm afraid people will laugh at me.
I'm afraid of changing my habits.
I'm afraid that even if I try really, really hard I might still fail.
|The road to success is pretty much all uphill.|
I'm starting to get my competitive mojo back, after months of hanging out and waiting to feel better. I'm excited about this year's racing plans and about the fact that I've put it out there: I'm looking for a PR in 2015. So this morning, for the first time in seven months, I did some speedwork.
I have to admit, I was a little bit afraid. The comfort zone was calling out for me. What if it sucks? What if I can't actually run fast anymore? It's a long road back to running PR paces, maybe I should just stay here in Easyville.
I set my bar pretty low, so as to feel successful even if it was as difficult as I feared. The plan was to run two miles warm up, 1 mile at a speed somewhere in the (fingers crossed) mid- to low-8s, 1 mile of recovery, 1 mile at a speed as fast as I might get to after all that (maybe sub-9?), and then 1 mile cool down.
I went out a little fast on the warm up in giddy anticipation. This would be the first time I'd really tested my legs in quite awhile and I was anxious to get to it. I chose to run out-and-backs on the nature trail because there is only one time I cross a street and it's not a busy one, so my likelihood of needing to stop or even slow down in the middle of my "speedy" mile was very low. I ran a lot of very successful speedwork and tempo miles on this trail when I was training for the 2013 CIM. The first speedwork mile felt amazing! For about half of it. And then I remembered that running fast took a whole lot of work. I held it together, but definitely felt the effort by the time my Garmin signaled the start of the recovery mile. Mile 3 = 8:12!!! I was ecstatic!
The whole recovery mile I debated whether or not I was going to run another speed mile. One was good, right? But the competitive girl inside of me wasn't having any of that. Two miles on the plan means two miles get done.
The second speedy mile was much harder than the first. My form felt awkward and my legs didn't really seem to know what they were doing, but I snuck a peek at my Garmin and I was still holding an incredible-for-me pace. Not even halfway through, UltraIronHubs met me on the trail, finishing up his run. I stopped very briefly to kiss him and he worriedly asked, "Are you alright?" As I ran on, I had to laugh at that. Apparently, the effort of my speedwork looked a little bit less like "Eye of the Tiger," and a little more like "I think I'm going to die." Mile 5 = 8:15. BOOM!
While I was floating on that last cool down mile home, I pondered the nature of my competitiveness. I'll never be - objectively speaking - a fast runner. But I am definitely a competitive one. Running makes me feel fearless. Of course it's hard. Of course people could laugh at me. Of course I could fail. But I'm still going to put myself out there and compete. Because it's totally worth it.