I don’t race to bolster my ego or image. For me, ultrarunning is about self-discovery. I learn new things and get glimpses of what makes me tick.
–Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner
Here’s a post I wrote many years ago, but I still see so many of the same tenancies in myself now.
A former coach once said that he didn’t understand me. I run controlled and precise, and I never let myself go. I am always holding back. What makes me tick??
The only thing I could think of at the time was fear. Fear of getting injured while sprinting, and to some extent fear of getting too fast. The fear of letting go and letting myself achieve my goals. That along with the desire to not draw any attention to myself, to just fade into the crowd.
On Tuesdays, I used to run at the track with my teammates, and the coach always had these crazy workouts for us. They were hard, and they were also kind of complicated. One specific workout was a few 200’s and 400’s capped off with an 800. Then do it again. This workout is so brutal, and hard to remember that the coach actually has a little song that accompanied it. (Not that it helped!)
Here are my times from the workout on August 2nd (2011):
200’s – 46 – 50 sec
400’s – 1:49 – 1:59
800’s – 4:06, 4:12
And here are my times last night (Sept 28, 2011):
200’s – 46 – 50 sec
400’s – 1:46 – 1:48
800’s – 4:08, 3:55
Interesting that the shorter distances stayed virtually the same, but as the distance got longer, I was able to shave more time off them. I must also give much thanks to Elyssa, my pace master for the 400’s and 800’s. She definitely pushed me and to the point I thought I was going to hurl.
For once, instead of falling behind and feeling pitiful and defeated, I pumped my arms, tried to “bounce” from my knees (sounds weird, but works,) grunted a few painful sounds, and held on. After every repeat I thought “My god, I can’t do another one” But I did. Again and again until the workout was over.
I walked a few blocks towards Union Square before flagging down a cab. I was barely able to climb into the back of the SUV. I massaged my sore calves while thinking about this workout. It feels like that was the first time in ages I had gotten the elusive runners high. I know one really good run doesn’t make or break a runner, but I think last night I was finally able to harness something that I have been trying to hide. I was finally able to let go.