Running Angst

I ran 5k on Saturday morning. I didn't set out to run 5k. I got up and checked the weather. It was going to be hot. Really hot. It was not, however, hot at that moment. So threw on my running clothes and hit the trail before even taking a sip of coffee.

I ran. Then I walked. Then I ran again. I know some people don't consider it "running" if you take walking breaks. Tough. I do. Deal with it. I ran because I've been feeling bad about running and I didn't really know why.

When I started running on Saturday I didn't know how far I was going to run except that I wanted to do more than 2k. The 2k path is a really nice route, which means that I end up defaulting to it a lot during the week. I know how long it takes and I know how hard I can push myself on that route. I know how much of that path I can run how much I need to walk. I know where to take my walking breaks and how long they will take.

I kept going beyond the 2k turnaround point. I hit the 3k route point. I didn't turn around. I hit the 4k route point and I thought about turning around. While I was going slow I knew I wasn't really that tired and part of the slow (though not all of it) was due to my not knowing how far I was going to go.

I thought about how I didn't have any reason I needed to get home quickly. I wasn't working that morning so I didn't have to get back to work and we didn't have plans for a few more hours. In the shade of the trees it was lovely and there was a slight breeze. I kept going until I hit the turnaround point for 5k.

And suddenly the way back didn't seem quite so long. I was tired. I was walking a bit more than I really wanted to. I was in direct sun. And I was hot. But the road seemed shorter.

I didn't break hit a personal best but I finished and that, it seems, was exactly what I needed to do. Somewhere along the path I figured out what my problem was earlier in the month.

When I ran the 5k on Canada Day I gave myself an exercise-induced asthma attack. It was a hard run for me. I never really think of myself as a particularly slow runner until you plunk me into a pile of other runners. While I ran a (very slight) personal best that day, I really hadn't run fast and yet after I stopped I found I was having difficulty breathing. It wasn't serious and it even took me awhile to figure out what was wrong. It's something that happens rarely (the last was many years ago) so it can take me awhile to put together all the pieces. An hour later -- after I had rested and had a hot drink -- I was fine but it had put a worm of a worry into my head. What if that happened when I ran in Chicago?

Part of needing to run 5k this weekend was just to prove to myself that I could do it and still be able to breath in the end. I went out again this morning and ran 3.5km. I'm getting closer to figuring how much I can and can't push myself. I'm learning at which point pushing turns to breathlessness.

My angst isn't completely gone. It's reduced until at least the next time you plunk me down in a group of runners and then I'll struggle to find my piece with being at the back of the pack. But I'll deal. I'll reach the finish line in my own time. I'll run my own race.