On tough love and running

I started running again. I run every morning with Mark and Snoopy, our beagle. I’m not an athlete, so this is really something for me.  I told myself it was going to be easy–after all, I was able to run 10k during the 2013 Nike Run. But darn it, it was anything but easy.

When I started to jog during the 3rd day of January 2017, I could barely finish 1 kilometer. I could barely jog for five straight minutes. Was it really going to be this hard? I wanted to give up, but I knew I needed this.

I logged in again to the Nike Run app after almost 2 years. I didn’t even notice that it had changed logos and had additional features as well. I signed up for a run plan, and everything just followed.

I was slow.

I ran out of breath.

My legs ached easily.

The side stitch just won’t disappear!

I just wanted to stop.

The first challenges were a combination of endurance and speed. I remember a few weeks ago when the task was to run a full kilometer without stopping. At that time, I really had a hard time doing it, and this might seem funny for people who regularly run half marathons or even marathons. But I did it, slowly, ever so slowly.

I saw this quote from Nike that says “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.” So that became my mantra. The tasks moved on to 2km, to 2.5km, and I was feeling pretty good. I could finally finish 2.5km. Slow, yes, but I thought that it was okay. Whenever I tried speeding up a bit, my legs would feel heavier, so I just slowed down again. I kept repeating to myself that it’s okay to be slow.

The last challenge of the 4-week plan was to run 4 km. I was scared. I started off slower than usual because I thought that if I went any faster, I wouldn’t finish the 4k run. Mark and Snoop were with me, as usual. And Mark would push me to exceed my limit.

At one point, I got really frustrated because my legs were already aching. I wasn’t running out of breath yet, but my muscles really hurt. Mark kept telling me that if I was that slow, why not just walk instead.

It hurt, it really hurt my pride. Because I thought to myself, “Here I am, doing the best I can, and it’s still not enough.” I snapped back at him but I sped up. My time got better during the last kilometer of that damn 4k run. Then he just told me, “Apparently you could go faster.”

And I did, didn’t I? All the pain seemed to leave me during that last kilometer. I don’t know why and how. I was able to finish that dreaded 4k run, with improved speed during the last kilometer.

So I thanked him. What for? For the tough love.

Because he knew I could do better, but he didn’t coddle me when I wanted to quit. He didn’t act like the usual coaches that give positive reinforcement and motivational speeches. Instead, by frustrating me, he sort of acted like my biggest enemy–myself.

It was then that I realized that exceeding your limits comes from within. When I ran that 10k last 2013, I finished it but it was a combination of jogs and walks. Whenever I would feel tired, I would just stop jogging and walk instead. In fact, now that I think of it, maybe I even walked more than jogged.

But this time, it’s different. This tiny 4k was already a big feat for me–but I jogged that whole damn 4k without stopping. Sure the first kilometers were slow, because I was playing safe. But that last kilometer, when I was angry, was my best time yet (in the whole four week training plan).

So yes, it’s all right to be slow as long as you don’t stop until you reach your goal.

But it’s also important to push harder in order to exceed your limits.

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