Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Tough Stuff

The theme for this weeks "Take it and Run Thursday" at Runners' Lounge is Overcoming the Tough Stuff.

For me, the Tough Stuff is humidity. I'm a big guy, and I work up a sweat even in cool, dry conditions. When it's hot and humid, look out. My headband gets saturated, and sweat runs into my eyes. Sweat soaks my socks and makes my feet squish. My "moisture wicking" shirt gives up in agonizing defeat. And I still have five miles to run.

I know most of the tricks. I have a couple of mantras that I use for the tough times. My favorite is "I'm a marathoner," repeated to the beat of your feet. Lately, I've also picked up the simple word "Hammer." I have been using it in increased rhythm -- every four steps, then every other step, then every step. I don't think I actually increase the pace of my running, but it feels like it. I also try to use my mantras occasionally when I'm feeling good, so that they aren't an automatic signal to my brain that I'm in trouble.

I also know not to try to take those five miles at once. Concentrate on the next landmark. Make it to the corner. Then to the park. Then to the water fountain.

I've been known to count out the next 100 steps, which is sort of a combination of those two techniques. The counting gives my brain something to do, and the 100 steps keeps my horizon pretty short.

For all that, sometimes I fail. Last Wednesday, I just broke about four miles into a seven mile run. I couldn't make it. At that point, there's nothing to do but to get back on the horse the next day. The one thing that you don't want to do is to dwell on it. Since then, I've had five good runs, and I'm doing OK.

The bottom line is that Tough Stuff is part of running. If you're a runner, it's going to get you. You have to stay strong, learn to deal with it, and survive to run another day.


Betsy said...

Oooh, I like Hammer. That's hardcore.

Shilingi-Moja said...

I need a mantra. I'll have to work on that. I read a good tip that fits your post -- "run the mile you're in". Thanks for the good post.

Leah said...

Hammer is a great one. I've been using "Warrior" lately.