First 10k

It was a strange Tuesday. A day of disturbed patterns and disrupted routines. A day to front up and be bold. A significant day for a number of reasons.

The reason I choose to remember came with the mid-afternoon sunshine, in the freedom and ease of putting one foot in front of the other, gently rolling out the miles.

Finding the pace, not forcing it. The breathing rhythmic. Key markers passed in conversation with my red-shirted guide, keeping thoughts from the anchor of the stop watch. The steady unwatched tick of distance.

Reaching out beyond boundaries. The breeze cooling, not dragging. The clouds looking kindly on the return. And the home straight. The approaching nearness. Knowing with absolutely certainty, saying out loud, “I can do this”.

And the feeling that I could do it again.

A good day to reach a milestone.

Musical inspiration

I haven’t blogged about running for a while. I guess you could say I’ve had other things on my mind. And those other things have knocked my running a bit.  I had a couple of tricky sessions where I really struggled, feeling like I did when I first started, unable to catch my breath, muscles tight, just not really getting it together and I knew it was a mental, rather than a physical block.

So I listened to some good advice, took a bit of time out, and have just picked things up again this weekend, having put myself in a much better frame of mind.

On Sunday, I hit the treadmill again, setting myself a goal of 20 mins. I stuck on my iPod and selected a playlist I’d set up some time ago. Truth was that I couldn’t really remember what was on it.

But it worked. And I found myself smiling. No, grinning as the tunes kicked in. A random assortment from New Order through David Bowie and Madonna. And I don’t know if it was the music, or the fact that I’d fought my way through that mental block, but it felt easy. It felt good.

And the music carried me. The lyrics seemed particularly relevant, inspirational even. So when Eminem kicked in towards the end of my planned 20 minutes I just kept going. In fact I boosted the speed, using some of the aggression and determination I’ve been pulling on over the past couple of weeks and pushing the run further and faster.

And you know what? It felt easy. Fun even. A real adrenaline buzz. A reward for battling it through on Friday night, coaching myself around a 45 min session, knowing I’d be really cross with myself if I didn’t hit my goal. Sure I was still sweaty. Sure, running on the treadmill is a bit tedious, but just running felt good. I felt strong. Confident. And that’s something that’s good to hang onto.

One of the things I like about using the Nike+ system when I’m running is the feedback you get through your headphones. So there’s a nice voice helping you keep track of your goals of time or distance, telling you you’ve completed 10 minutes, or only have 5 minutes left to reach your goal.

And when you’ve done something worth celebrating, you get a celebrity boost. So on Friday evening I heard Paula Radcliffe in my headphones congratulating me on my longest run ever.

I ran for 30 mins on Sunday, and I wasn’t expecting any celeb feedback, so it was a great surprise to hear Lance Armstrong saying well done on my personal best for a mile. Guess what track was playing when I hit that!

It’s good to focus on the positives. So I was happy just to have reached my 45 minute goal on Friday night’s run. But it’s important to remember how I had to talk myself through it in my head. How I had to think about controlling my breath, lengthening my pace. And not just once, but several times. So I know, even when it’s not as easy as it was on Sunday, I can still do it.