Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Run Like Forest Gump

Yesterday I really felt unmotivated to get out and put the mileage in.

Getting dressed was a chore. Putting on the shoes was a chore.

Even filling the water bottles was a chore.

All I could think about was, "should I do the mile and a half repeats, the hill repeats or hit the track?"

That's when it hit me that running wasn't fun anymore. With all of the requirements that I had put in place, deciding if I was going to do a tempo run, a long run, a track workout or a hill workout, I had lost the original reason I had started running and continue to run to this day--to relieve stress.

So as I finished lacing up the shoes, I said, "Screw it. I don't care how far I go or how long it takes, I'm going running just to run. As Forest Gump said, "I just felt like running".

So yesterday's run was just a run. No time. No hills. No fartlek. No tempo run.

It was just a chance to get out and move the legs again.

When I lived in Cupertino, I studied karate for a couple of years.

Most of the sessions covered the basics to get us to the next level, so we studied and practiced a variety of blocks, kicks, punches, and forms, also known as kata.

One evening when I went in, I had just finished up a horrendous day at work. It was one of those days where nothing went right. And as I stepped into the studio, I could tell that the train of unfavorable events was going to continue because I was the only person that showed up that day.

As my instructor prepared to review the days lesson in preparation for the next test, he noticed something about my demeanor. So he asked me if everything was alright--and I just vomited the days events all over him.

After I had finished unloading on him and a few minutes of reflection, he said, "You know what? We don't have anyone else showing up today. Over half the people who were supposed to show called in and canceled on me. As for everyone else, they would have shown up by now if they were going to come. So we are going to change things up a bit. Step over here and let me introduce you to my personal friend, the heavy bag."

For those of you who have never been introduced to a heavy bag in person, let me tell you, working the heavy bag is not as easy as those TV heroes make it out to be. It's 80 pounds of dead weight that doesn't flex or roll with the punches. If it's coming at you and you try to deflect it with a "Bruce Lee punch", it just eats your punch and keeps coming at you. You, on the other hand, will end up breaking your arm.

Dave gave me some pointers on how to strike the heavy bag--tips like don't kick it with your toe or your break it and don't try to knock the bag out of the park or you'll hurt your hand and break your arm and learn to use momentum to your advantage. After about 10 minutes of tips and examples, he said, "it's all yours. Work it out".

I was a little hesitant at first, but after a few minutes of getting the feel for the old girl, I really started getting animated. And Dave was there to offer me encouragement. He would things like, "There you go! You're getting the hang of it! Who's your daddy? Show 'em who the daddy! Who's that person you really want to give some appreciation? Put their face right there on the bag.  Now show 'em some love! Give 'em a kiss with a roundhouse kick!"

At the end of the hour, I knew I had been in a workout. But surprisingly enough, I felt relaxed, energized, and liberated. I dropped all of my tension underneath the heavy bag and left the studio feeling lighter than when I went in.

It didn't help me get to the next belt level.  But it was exactly what I needed at that moment.

Yesterday's run was like that heavy bag workout. It wasn't a run for a fast time, to develop extra speed, or to correct gait problems.

It was, however, what I needed.

I remember a bit of wisdom from my competitive days when qualifying for the Boston Marathon was something I could do two months before the Boston Marathon with only a mild amount of training. Hard training, speed work and racing take miles out of your "training account". To put miles back in, you need to run the easy runs that bring the mind and body back together.

If you find yourself feeling burned out or your training sessions begin to feel more like work and less enjoyable, forget about the requirements for a day.

Do like Forest Gump and just run.

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