August 30, 2016

Too Many Excuses

Yesterday, while sitting and working at my computer, I got a sudden pain in my neck shoulder. For a few minutes, I felt like I couldn’t breathe because it hurt so much, and then it subsided a bit and I was left with a dull ache – kind of like when you turn your neck too fast and then it hurts for a bit. (Except this had suddenly come on while I was sitting still.) It reminded me a bit of when I slipped a disc in my neck, though wasn’t nearly as excruciating. However, this morning I woke up at 4am from the pain, and I’m now debating whether I need to go see a doctor or if I should wait a bit to see if it resolves itself. Yuck.

Today on the 5K training plan, I was supposed to do an interval run: 12 x 0.25 at 6:20 pace, with 0.05 walk in between each interval. However, I was kind of worried about my neck and going that hard, so I decided to take option B, swapping my interval day with my tempo run day. (Coach Adam said this would be fine.) My plan was to do 4 miles with no breaks, increasing the speed every mile so that my splits would be 8:30, 8:00, 7:30, 7:00. I would like to note that this week’s planned tempo run was significantly harder than last week’s, where I did splits of 8:57, 8:42, 8:20, and 7:54. However, the truth is that it wasn’t the harder splits that did me in; it was my own excuses.

I got on the treadmill for my first mile (8:30 pace), and already felt like it wasn’t an easy run. But I was going to have to get a lot faster as the run progressed! I did the 8:30 just fine (albeit with some sense of foreboding for what was still to come), and then kicked it into gear for the 8:00. Okay, this wasn’t too bad – the pace was still fairly comfortable. But as I came to the end of that second mile, I got really nervous about my ability to kick it up a full 30 seconds faster and sustain that pace or faster for two more miles.

I told myself that maybe it wasn’t a good idea for me to be running at all this morning, with my neck pain. I told myself that I was still recovering from a nasty cold and that was why I wasn’t feeling so great. And with all of that rationalization, I told myself that I could take a quick 15 second break to catch my breath before I continued – even though Adam had explicitly told me that the point of the tempo run was not to take any breaks.

I got back on the treadmill after my illegal break, and felt pretty good. 7:30 mile, coming up! I told myself that I had just 14.5 minutes left in the workout, and I started a countdown in my head. Surely a 15 second break in the middle of this really tough workout wouldn’t be too bad, right? I was proud of myself for doing the workout at all when I had so many ailments, and I rationalized that it was awesome how hard I was trying, even if I wasn’t perfect.

But then toward the middle of mile 3, I started feeling really sick to my stomach. I tried to gut it out (ha), but I was definitely having some gastrointestinal distress and it wasn’t going away. Ironically, while I was running, I was watching Unreal, where one of the contestants just made a fool of herself for ignoring the signs of GI distress and not heading to a bathroom. I did not want to make the same mistake, so after mile 3, I got off the treadmill and headed to the bathroom. My plan was to come back and do the last mile at a 7:00 pace after my bathroom break, but after I washed up and headed back out to the gym floor, my stomach started seizing up again- and I decided to call it quits for the day. Surely, three miles at altitude and at an average pace of 8:00 wasn’t all that bad, right?

On the way home from the gym, though, I thought about my workout, and I was really disappointed in myself. In hindsight, why had I let all those dumb excuses get into my head and keep me from doing my best? A big part of why I like having Adam as a coach is that he tells me what to do and I don’t have to think about whether or not it’s achievable; I just go do it. Today, I questioned my abilities, and allowed myself to wuss out rather than sticking to the plan – and now I really regret it. I asked Adam if I could try again tomorrow, but he said that I’m not allowed a do-over because it would mess with Thursday’s speedwork. Frustrating, but understandable, and I want to do my best to do exactly what he says going forward.

I need to adhere to this mantra going forward.

This month I’ve had a lot of injuries and illnesses, and I’ve learned that I have a tendency to let those be excuses for not performing my best. But one of my reasons for training so hard for a 5K is because I want to see what happens when I give it my all, and lay it all out there. I definitely still have a lot of work to figure out how to overcome the mental hurdles that keep impeding my physical progress.


8 thoughts on “Too Many Excuses”

  1. While you may have an excellent coach whom you trust unquestionably, I think you also have to listen to your body. Ailments are not a sign of weakness but could sometimes be a cry for attention. Pain should not be trifled with until the cause has been established. (My two cents.)

  2. You’re right, Laura. All of us has the potential to be at our best all the time but our head can always find an excuse to stop or ruin that. Thank you for reminding us that we have to keep in mind why we do what we do and control all mental hurdles that seems to be blocking our way to success. You’re such an inspiration! More power to you!

    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Steve! I have a lot of work to do on the mental side of training but am looking forward to some good books in the hopper that should help.

  3. A bit late to the conversation; but if your posts meaning never dies why should the comments?! 🙂

    This really is a perfect reminder (like Steve said) from your own personal experience that too many excuses are being made way too often. I too thank you for the inspiring reminder; your posts are great.

    Keep on keepin’ on!

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