Right now, I need some good, confidence-building workouts. It seems like I've been slogging through each and every one over these last 5 weeks. Last night, I may have had a breakthrough.
I came home from work completely exhausted. Granted, I had an interview earlier that day, which are always draining. (It went very well, and I would love this opportunity so I'm keepign my fingers crossed!) I immediately plopped onto the bed, surrounded by dogs, and fell asleep. When Travis woke me up at 6 to be fed with a few gentle woofs (and 50 lbs jumping on my chest), I groggily stumbled downstairs. After feeding myself, the dreaded yet familiar feeling of apathy began to build in my chest. I knew my odds of working out were becoming slimmer and slimmer as the evening elapsed. However, every time I stirred, Travis jumped up, ran towards the door and turned back towards me with begging eyes, tail wagging. He knew it was time for his walk. Shoot. If I'm going to walk them, I may as well run them, I reasoned. "Do you want to go for a run?" At the word, "run", both Travis and Floyd began panting and furiously tail-wagging. Their excitement rubbed off on me, and I used the energy to quickly change into my nighttime running clothes, headlamp and all. As we headed for the door, Floyd jumped up and down whining loudly while Travis did a few 360s and "woofed" a few more times. Talk about great training partners!
The first mile with the boys is always awkward. Unable to contain their excitement, they always sprint down the street for the first 1/4 mile, dragging me behind them. Then, Travis has to stop, sniff, and take care of business. After that, they're good (actually, Floyd keeps an even pace pretty much the entire time--I think it's the herding breed in him).
The miles floated by with the dogs trotting at a steady pace beside me. As a pack, we ran in sync, a unifying flow of energy tying us together. It was a magical moment, sort of a running mediation. It had been months since I've felt that sort of quiet, peaceful mind, which I used to get easily every time I ran. When I sit and try to practice meditation (which I actually am trying to do for a few minutes a day), it takes a lot of effort to quiet my mind. When I run, it just happens. Time stopped, and all I was aware of was the rhythm of my feet and the quiet euphoria that filled me. It felt wonderful. I didn't want to stop. When we reached our usual turn-around, I pushed on, deciding to add an extra mile. Again, this is the first time this has happened since I started training again.
The extra mile was tough, probably because it was mostly uphill. The dogs gently tugged at the leash, urging me not to slow down. With their four legs and low center of gravity, they glanced back at my labored footsteps and heaving gasps for breath questioningly as they easily loped up the hill. I welcomed the assistance they gave me up the hill. At the same time, my lungs were screaming as I allowed them to push my pace. Their speed and endurance always amazes me, especially since I train much more than they do!
At the top of the hill, we turned around and headed back towards home. They weren't sprinting but they definitely picked up the pace. I could have insisted that they slow down. But I secretly enjoyed the push they gave me. Left to my own demise, I would not run that fast. They urged me to quicken my footsteps, and I obeyed, my breath coming comfortably but rapidly. This was a tempo run. The combination of running past my comfort level so soon after dinner forced me to dash into the bushes for an emergency stop only a mile away from home. Ugh. Travis and Floyd, confused yet always obedient, followed me into the bush and waited patiently.
Afterwards, we continued the final mile home. Our pace had dropped off but I was thankful to settle back to my happy space. The final quarter mile had to be traversed on a sketchy section of the road where the bike lane is narrow and there is no sidewalk. Travis instinctively hugged the shoulder but I had to keep yanking Floyd back into the safety of the bike lane as he kept jutting out into the middle of the street. Paying close attention to Floyd, I didn't see a bush up ahead, crowding the bike lane. Travis ran around the bush, accidently colliding with me. I spilled to the ground on my hands and knees. For a split second, panic ensued as I pictured oncoming cars hitting Floyd, who was now sprawled in the middle of the street. The whites of Travis's eyes flashed as I crouched vulnerably on the dark road. I leapt back to my feet, took a second to assess the damage (little to none), and we cautiously trotted the remaining few yards back to the sidewalk. Luckily, no one was harmed, save for a scraped knee and hole in my running tights. However, I will make sure to take the long way home next time to avoid that section.
All in all, I was extraordinarily happy with this run. I realize my primary goal is to be able to enjoy my workouts again. I don't want each one to feel like so much work! I want to use the workouts to relax, rejuvenate, and attain that moving meditative state. That comes with fitness. And it will come...
Travis by the xmas tree.
Another Travis pic.