The title of this post refers to the Yogi Berra saying that baseball is 90% mental... and the other half is physical. That saying naturally applies to running as well, except more so.
This morning I find myself stumbling into the bedroom closet just as the 0400 watch alarm is about to chime. I almost always beat it, no matter how early its set. Trying to keep quiet, I dress into my running clothes and swig down a 5-hour energy. Maybe this will get me out the door faster than the usual coffee.
It’s been tough to get going lately. This is at least partly because we’re in Connecticut, trying to perform major surgery to Veronica and Barry’s house: mostly painting, plumbing and taking stuff to the city dump. So that may be a good portion of the physical part of why I’ve been tired and sore. But even before this week, most of my runs have been slow and tired. It could be my continuing injury saga, or the ongoing oppressive heat and humility. Maybe that is 90% mental part.
But I think the mental part goes further. My heel is, actually, beginning to heal, as is the rest of me. At least it’s better than it was. Even so, I am still burned out. I have a decent run now and then – including a tempo run at North Park last week and another here on the Housatonic trail. Most runs, however, are as tired and slow as ever.
I want to get out by 0500 in order to have enough time to run 20 miles and get back at a decent time. I sit at the computer first to check email and weather. This is always a Big Mistake. It certainly was Saturday, the last time I tried to get out for a long one and wound up starting so late that I settled for 10 instead. Yesterday I couldn’t get out the door at all.
Big Mistake it is again. Besides attending to NC24 matters and other things, I talk with Veronica a bit. I’m out the door at 5:45. This is much later than planned, but I’m determined to do 20 anyway. Debbie will just have to wait for me to begin painting a little later than usual. Since it rained quite a bit yesterday, I decide not to do the trail today. Instead I go down the hill and up the other one on Daniels Farm Road to the track. Those first three miles are slow ones, but with the hills and waking up (still), I’m not concerned.
It’s the fourteen miles at the track that weigh on my mind. The sun is already up as I start my circuits. It gets early early around here. (This is another Yogi saying – “It gets early late around here” or something like that.) That’s not so bad, but now it’s getting warm as well. And humid.
I am dripping with sweat as I complete my first track mile in something like 8:50. The next several are progressively faster – in the 8:40’s, 8:30’s and then some in the 8:20’s. By the time I have 10 in, I’m feeling like I’m doing well and am fairly pleased with the progression of the mile times.
"You're in fantastic shape" says a high-school soccer girl who's nearby when I stop for a sip of my water. She'd been there for almost the same amount of time that I was. "Thanks, I say. And so are you", since all high-school soccer kids are in great shape. At this point, however, the heat is beginning to get to me. The sun is beating down, and I only have a half-bottle of water left. I should have brought more. My mile times begin to slow. I’m putting in more effort than ever, but Miles 12 and 13 are close to nine minutes. I decide to try at least one more, and it comes out closer to ten minutes.
I decide it’s time to head home. I suppose I could slog through it, but that trend is very discouraging. I do slog the final three and barely get back in one piece.
So at least I got 17 in, but it wasn’t the 20 I wanted. Is it physical, or is it mental? The answer is yes.
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