I just got back from vacation, which, when I’m not running after our three little kids, affords some time to exercise regularly. I’m still running with my “barefoot” Vibram shoes (which I love, and which are the reason I’m back running after a 10 year hiatus), though infrequently enough that doing three runs in a week felt like a major milestone.
Trying to overcome my natural tendency to overdo it, my first two runs were identical and not too strenuous: 3.5 miles first thing in the morning on very flat terrain.
But of course the runs weren’t identical.
The first run was a first run after a few weeks off. I felt sluggish, plodding. For the first mile I was running into what felt like 15 mph headwinds, listening to a beautiful late Schubert piano Sonata which is great for inspiration but doesn’t seem to get the legs churning. On the last mile of the run a new blister started burning and I slowed down a lot. It was, overall, the kind of run you’re glad you did once it’s done.
Two days later, things felt totally different. I felt light, felt like I was moving, I was listening to a “running mix” that always gets me moving faster. I kept on picking up the pace through the whole run. It felt great.
Thanks to the wonders of a new iPhone app called Strava, I was able to see how different the two runs really were. The first one took 27:57 (an 8:08 minute mile). The second took 26:41 (a 7:46 mile).
Yup, the difference between plodding / struggling /limping to the finish and “flying” was a minute and 13 seconds.
Sure, this could be a reflection of me as a runner, but it’s also about the stories we tell ourselves.
Our highs and lows aren’t so different from each other: we’re not as great as we think we are on our great days, nor nearly as terrible as we feel like we are on the bad days. But the difference between showing up and staying home? That one is monumental.
Showing up, fully, and giving full effort is what counts.
And going a lot easier on yourself on the days that feel like the bad ones.