Can I do it? Yes, I can!

22 Mar

I was a little nervous about going running yesterday.  Since I resumed running after an absence of three months just a week ago, I have been sticking to the somewhat safe distance of 5km.  I needed a slightly longer run yesterday,though.  I have a fairly full race schedule this year, starting with a 10km race on April 3rd.  I cannot run in any of my planned events by doing 5km training runs – it was time to start upping my Sunday run distances.

On the one hand, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a longer run.  The last time I ran more than 6km was three months ago.  On the other hand, though, I have learned that long runs are all about the strategy.  You have to rely on more than your legs and a good pair of running shoes.  You have to plan your approach, and when you’re out on the road you have to listen to your body and interpret the signals.  With this in mind, I planned on 8km – not exactly a long run, but longer than anything I’ve done in a while.

To my surprise, it went very well.  When I run 5km, I set a brisk pace from the beginning and maintain it as best I can.  For my 8km run yesterday, I switched on my “long run” mindset.  I started out slow and ran the first kilometre or so at a very easy pace, not caring that the virtual partner on my training watch was streets ahead of me.  As I warmed up, my pace gradually increased.  I always find it intriguing how that happens.  I don’t make any conscious effort to run faster.  It just happens.  So without putting any effort into it, I ran the second kilometre a full minute faster than the first.

Throughout the run, I did what I always do on long runs – I took a one-minute walking break every ten minutes.  I even use this amazingly effective technique (learned from the good folks at Running Room) for races.  It would be easy to think that this would slow a runner down, but in truth, I complete my long runs and my races faster by doing this than if I were to run the whole way.  Those walking breaks are an opportunity for me to avoid lactic acid buildup in my legs, to let my heart rate drop a little, and to drink some water without having it slosh all over my face.  Drinking and running at the same time is not as easy as you might think!

Before I knew it, the 8km was up and I was running back into my driveway.  My total time was about a minute and half behind target, and I was very happy with that.  Considering the fact that I hadn’t run 8km in months, the fact that I was only a minute and a half behind was pretty good!  My pace over the last three kilometres was right on track.  And most important – something I aim for on every single run, long or short – when I came to the end of the run I felt as if I could have continued had I so chosen.

So yesterday’s run counts as a resounding success.  I now have two weeks to build from 8km to 10km, and then another seven weeks to build to 21km.  For the first time in weeks, I am confident that my race schedule is safe.  As long as I don’t break a leg or something.

When I finished my run yesterday, I stretched and then went into the house.  In the living room, the kids were playing.  James, the little brother with a big brother’s role – exuberant, energetic, always with plenty to say.  And George, my beautiful boy who is my inspiration every single time I lace up my running shoes.

Whenever I wonder if I can keep on running, all I have to do is picture my boys in my head to know that yes, yes I can.  George, touched by autism.  And James, sibling to an autistic child.  For them, I could do anything.


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