Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mile One

I have run nearly 300 miles this month and I can say, without a doubt, that the hardest of them all is ALWAYS the first one.

During the week, I typically run at lunchtime and you’d think that would make starting easier. Give the body some time to wake up, have breakfast, coffee, mid-morning snack, more coffee, bathroom break, hydrate and go. Easy. Right? Well, not so much. You see, I have a desk job. So, I’m pretty much going from stationary to 7 min miles in the time it takes for me to get dressed. And during that first mile, my legs let me know, quite loudly in fact, that they don’t appreciate the sudden change of pace. Easy does it, desk jockey!

Of course, my early-morning weekend long runs seem to get off to an equally troubling start. Getting up earlier than I normally do for work, trying to choke down some food, coffee, hydrate, find all the right gear and hopefully hit the bathroom before meeting up with my friends for an 8:00am start. The first mile is so painful. Barely awake, my heart rate spikes, my breathing is ragged, my stomach is jumbly and my legs feel like they’re made of lead. I can only imagine what I look like  to passers-by as I go stumbling down those country roads.

So, I guess what I’m really saying is, it doesn’t matter when I run, Mile One ALWAYS makes me earn it!

And sometimes just getting to Mile One can be a struggle, in and of, itself. Kids, colds, work, darkness, weather and sheer tiredness always threaten to derail a run before it even happens. And it seems like this winter, in particular, has been especially tough for first miles. Snow, ice, freezing-rain, biting wind and way below-normal temperatures, make those first steps out the door so much more of a challenge.

By this point, you must be asking yourself, “If Mile One is so hard, why do you do it?” And the answer is really quite simple: Mile Two!

I suffer through Mile One to get to the good stuff that comes after it. I put up with the achy legs, the disjointed form, the upset stomach, the pounding heart-rate, the suffocating breathing, the cold air freezing my face (and other body parts) because it I know that it won't last. I know that if I can just push through those difficult early miles, that things can only get better. And they almost always do!

Because, once I get my engine warmed, it just shifts itself into another gear. My form miraculously comes together, my breathing becomes easier, I find my rhythm and I’m good to go. Most days,
regardless of how long I run, the last few miles often feel better than the first few.  I guess you could say that what I lack in “starting power”, I more than make up for in “staying power”. So, if I keep my calories up and stay hydrated, I can literally run all day.

... just gotta get past Mile One.

And, I guess if there's a lesson to be learned from my experience it's:
"It never always gets worse. Sometimes, if you hang on long enough, it just might stop sucking." :)

1 comment:

  1. Try out a standing desk. Makes it much easier for the transition from the office to the road.