The One Mile Meltdown is a new series here on The Aloha Files. Ever been out on a run, swim, or bike where you get one mile in (or one hundred meters in a swim) and feel like you just can't do it? Ever hit that wall immediately and wonder why you even began? Marci and I have those moments from time to time and while we share them with each other, we wanted to start sharing them with you. Being able to hear other's stories about their One Mile Meltdowns helped me realize it happens to everyone and it motivates me to keep going when things gets tough.
I've been dealing with side cramping the past few weeks of running. Usually I only cramp up when I start running again after a long break, when my body isn't quite in shape and I need to rebuild some of my strength. However, I've been consistently logging miles for over six months now so the issue of cramping seems to have come from no where.
I went out for a quick three miler on my lunch break. I'd been feeling some stress from work and life in general and one of my favorite ways of dealing with it is to go for a run or a bike ride or a swim. I thought a little sunshine and fresh air would feel good as I got the blood flowing.
I immediately felt some side cramping as soon as I started out. "Don't worry", I told myself, "it'll work itself out as you warm up". Well, it either works itself out or it gets worse. Half a mile in the cramping had spread from one side of my stomach over to the other - I could still run, it was just really annoying. I looked down at my Garmin another half mile later and saw that my pace was at least a minute over my usual time. And then I stopped. I paused the Garmin and started to cry. I was extremely frustrated with my effort, incredibly upset with the way I felt, and all the stresses seemed to pour down at that moment. The tears flowed as I stood there contemplating what I was going to do. I could turn right and walk back to work, frustrated and upset, shower, and get on with my afternoon, or I could turn left and continue on. Walking in circles as I sniffed I thought about this choice. Part of me was saying, "You're done, take a break, you tried to do too much with a morning swim. Slow down. Rest for tomorrow." And the other part of me was saying,
"It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there, it matters that you got there."
I knew at that moment that I was going to finish this run. I took a deep breath, wiped my face, and turned left.
The side cramps immediately came back, but I wasn't going to let them control me. I was running with a few cramps, other people run with one leg. I could do this. I only needed to make two more miles. Suddenly I was at the halfway point and only needed to go another half mile to have one mile left (yes, we runners think like this). I turned up the volume on my playlist and just ran. I felt myself gaining speed and confidence. Turning a corner into the last homestretch I pushed myself. The side cramping was gone and the strength in my legs was back. My heart rate monitor was screaming at me, telling me I was past my allowed max training rate, but I didn't care - I was going to finish this run strong. And I did. One minute UNDER my regular pace.
I get really discouraged when I feel like I am having a good run and I look down at my pace and realize I'm running over a minute slower than my usual time. Its summer and its been hot and humid in Los Angeles, even at 6:30am, but I can't help but feel upset and down on myself when this happens. My mind starts to spiral and I begin to feel like a failure and wonder if running slower is what my runs are going to be like. When I train so hard and falter I can get extremely frustrated with myself.
But then I remind myself that I am out of bed at 6:30am and I'm moving. I'm running and I FEEL GOOD. Why stop? Just because I'm running slow doesn't mean that its bad. So I keep going and I keep running through my emotions and when I finish I feel proud of myself that I've woken up and gotten out there, because really, getting out there is really all that matters.