Though it is summer, I am continuing to run six mornings a week. I’ve learned that I can go further and feel better if I alternate long runs and short runs, so every other day or so I keep my run only about a mile and a half. On the other days, I run anywhere from three to four miles.
And that’s as far as I can go.
I don’t know if this is normal for a runner, but I have hit a major wall in my running. No matter how often I try, no matter how much I want to, I cannot get myself past the fourth mile. It’s like my body knows just when I hit it, and then it shuts down. My side cramps, my calves ache, my head hurts. It’s miserable. If I try to run that far and I’m far away from the house before I get done, I end up having to do a Walk of Shame home because my body physically won’t do it.
Now, under normal circumstances and for the previous 29 years of my life, I would give up right…about…NOW. When it got harder than I was willing to work, I’d just stop. Especially for something like exercise. But I really, really want this. And not just four miles. I really want to run long distances because I think I have that in me. When I finish my 3.9 mile runs now, I’m still full of energy. I feel great. I’m ready to go run some more. So, I figure I just need to mentally get past that darn fourth mile and then I will be good to go for a couple more miles at least.
I don’t know anything about running strategy, but I feel like this is something I just have to condition my body to do. I just have to force myself to do it for a few times and then my body will know that it’s not impossible and it will quit resisting. That’s what I had to do when I first started running. I just had to push myself harder so that I wouldn’t give up, and so that my own body knew that it wasn’t allowed to give up. I didn’t give up at the beginning, and I’m not going to give up now. I have at least a half marathon inside me, if not a full somewhere FAR down the line, and so I have to push through this stupid fourth mile barrier in order to keep moving forward.
Two weekends ago, we went to Pensacola to see Chris’s mom, Jackie, and his grandmother, Lettie. Lettie was in town with her husband for the first time in several years, so we made the trip up to spend Bean’s actual birthday with her and Jackie and the rest of their family. It was really great to see them. Lettie hadn’t met either of the kids yet, so it was nice for her to be able to spend some time with them. They really liked her, too. She’s quiet natured and very calm, just like Jackie, and both kids really warmed up to her quickly.
(I think Bean looks like Lettie a lot in this picture, actually. Also, Gracie was snoozing, so she missed the photo op.)
When we were visiting, Jackie and I got up one morning and went for a run together. Jackie is a very accomplished runner. She has run several marathons (four, I think?), is a Jeff Galloway trainer for several running groups in her community, has coordinated and organized a ton of races herself, and is on the board of the Pensacola Runners Association. She’s an avid runner, and I get a lot of my running advice from her.
While we were out running, we used her Jeff Galloway technique, which is running and walking at intervals. We ran five minutes and walked one, ran five, walked one, ran five, walked one. As we ran, she told me about running all of her races using this method, including her marathons. She made great times, ran great races, and all using that run/walk method. Personally, I like running for a long time. The longer the run, the better I feel. But I used the run/walk method for the first two miles when I first started running to get myself conditioned to run farther. And, clearly, it’s doing something for Jackie because she can whip my butt when we go running. This is us after our run. Which one looks more equipped to bust through the fourth mile????
Now, I’m starting to wonder if I should go back to that run/walk to get me through the fourth mile. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to be using my Jeff Galloway app to help me run four minutes and then walk one until I get through the fourth mile. I figure if I do that for a week or two, and maybe bump up to five miles, then my body will be conditioned to go that distance. Eventually, I’ll be able to just run the four or five miles without the run/walk method, just like I was eventually able to run the first two miles without stopping. But for now, I think I need something to help push me over this hump, and I think Jeff Galloway might just be the guy for the job.
I set my app up this morning and added some tunes to my playlist, so I’m all set for my FIRST 4.5 mile run tomorrow. Wish me luck!