There I was, running along, listening to my music way too loud, when I saw a woman with a medium-sized poodle-looking dog on a leash walking toward me. Super cute, fluffy dog. I watched as she pulled the leash a little closer to her, which, as a runner, I totally appreciate more than the dog-walkers who let their dogs roam about on long leashes designed to clothesline me at the ankles. As I got closer, I smiled and said good morning to her, and I was just looking down at the cute puppy dog and about to use my high squeaky voice to say hello when that fucker lunged at me.
I mean luuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnged. Teeth bared. Little body on high alert, ready to eat me. She had to use both hands on the leash to keep him under "control." And it was funny because I was already thinking about today's post when it happened, but there it was, the perfect illustration of what I wanted to talk about:
Sometimes shit doesn't go down the way you expect it to.
|Me. Every time.|
Lately I'm having a serious disconnect between the reality of where my fitness is and my expectation of where I think it should be. I mean, I totally get that I took a lot of time off last year. Except that I didn't really take time off, so much as just cut way, way back. And, yes, I understand that my mileage was very low for a very long time, but prior to that cutback I had been averaging 50 mile weeks for months. I used to train long and hard, but nowadays training long just feels hard. As in difficult.
When I plotted out this year's races, knowing that I had put anemia behind me, I felt like I wanted to be cautious, of course, but I was also ready to start putting the hammer down a little, ya know? But now that I am actually trying to even find the hammer, let alone put it down, I'm discovering that my hiatus cost me a lot more than I realized.
I sort of feel like I'm starting from scratch.
My expectation is that running double digits will be an effort, but not outside of my reach, because the last several years have included such high mileage while training for ultras that I was pretty much always in marathon shape (please note, not speedy marathon shape, but rather, "capable of running a marathon" shape). My expectation is that running 9-minute miles should still feel like a comfortable pace, because I used to run 8s regularly. My expectation is that because I feel mentally rarin' to go and ready to race, my body ought to get with the program.
The reality, as you've no doubt guessed by now, is a sad distance from these expectations.
|There were so many of these, and they were all funny. Google "expectations vs. reality."|
Running long is hard. Running fast is hard. And having a race on my calendar this weekend didn't magically make me ready for running both long and fast. Weird, right??
So, this week I'm giving myself a little reality check and managing my expectations. While it's true that I'm not where I expected or wanted to be with my fitness, that doesn't have to be bad news. I am feeling better. I am training much harder than I was even a few months ago, and I will continue to improve from here. I just need to be patient. You know, my favorite thing in the world.
I reminded myself of these things and more as I was stepping outside for today's run. I decided not to be critical of myself for the pace I was running and not to compare myself to a girl I used to be. And to not think so hard about the girl I want to be in the future. But to just be. And once I let go of the expectations, it turned out to be a really, really wonderful run.
Minus the dog.