Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Importance of Failing

I had a failed eight mile run today. I was supposed to do four mile repeats with half mile jogs in between with a warm up and warm down to total eight miles. I was apprehensive about it. I kind of hate mile repeats. I know they make me faster, I know they help my endurance and mental toughness, but I hate them. Why? Because I am a competitive person. I am a perfectionist and if I run the first mile in 8:30 I will kill myself to run the next one in 8:25 and the one after that in 8:20 and the one after that in 8:10. This is a good thing, except that I have trouble pacing the mile distance, and therefore always end up exhausted and barely breathing at the end. Usually, however, it is ok... Today it wasn't.

I think I just got myself too wound up about this run... I did my warm-up and felt kind of crappy, I felt slightly nauseous, which makes me think that bananas+runs=bad because I had one before my run today and I usually just stick with a bit of toast with almond butter and honey which always works. As I went into my first mile I realized I had accidentally planned my route so that that first mile included A LOT of hilly sections. Bad, bad idea for mile repeats. I was relieved when that first mile was over. I did my jog and then went into the second mile... Immediately I felt sick, I was pushing up yet another hill (bad, bad, bad route planning on my part, I was trying to do mile repeats not hill repeats), and I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. So I stopped leaned against a tree and breathed, I figured I could just pick it back up and maybe aim for 9 minute miles... Not what I really wanted to ultimately respectable. Kind of. After a minute or two I tried to start running again... My legs felt like absolute lead, and my stomach just felt worse... After about five minutes I figured I'd just make it to the three mile run, count today as one of my easy run days (I have three easy three mile days this week) and do the mile repeats on Thursday.

At first I was really mad at myself, but then I started thinking about the last run I didn't complete, a seven mile tempo I tried to run in the absolute pouring rain where I get so soaked that I ended up to cold to continue, and I thought about what I learned from that run. I learned that it is ok to fail sometimes, that it is ok to not complete something as long as I readjust my schedule so that I do it later. So instead of being mad at myself about today I've decided to use it as a learning experience. Could I have completed the eight mile distance? Yes. I would have slowed down and finished it as a leisurely long run. And if I feel sick during my half, I'll just forget about time and focus on finishing, but that wasn't the point of today. The point of today was the repeats, and if I was incapable of doing them then the best thing to do was to stop, and do them another day, take the failure, accept it and move forwards.

That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

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