Today I went running with two people fitter and faster than I am. We ran about 2.5 miles and did some HIIT training (high intensity interval training) on a big hill we call Heart Break Hill. It’s as steep as the name suggests and longer than it looks.
It’s not the first time that I have run since I took a bad fall and re-injured my leg, but it’s pretty close to it. It is the first time that I have run with others.
I channeled a Buddhist teacher I used to know who would say “comparisons kill joy” whenever my thoughts veered into what other people do, what other people have, what other people think.
Comparison is the death of joy. –Mark Twain
I also could hear my old coach’s voice saying “athletes don’t jog, they run.” This sentence has slowed me down too often to count. It kept me from walking when that’s all I could do to stay fit and from jogging when that was all I could do. As helpful as the phrase was when I as competing, it is not at all helpful now.
Who gets to define an athlete in her fifties?
Going up that hill I channeled something I attribute to Don Kirkendall who had worked with my college and national team. “People don’t know how strong they are.”
I think that’s true. We quit on many things way before we should whether it’s fitness or in other facets of our lives.
So, I ran at my pace way behind the others. I ran up that hill for my intervals. I pushed myself hard today. It felt great once I put down any need to keep up and fought through any desire to quit on myself.
The interesting thing is that neither person really cared what pace I ran or what I did. If I had quit it would have been fine. That I was slow was of no interest to either. Each was focused on her own pace. Going up that hill, each was focused on her own pain. When we finished each of us was assessing our own workout and supportive of the other.
We talked about food, our jobs, how great the trail was, how often we should do that, and other things. We agreed we need heartbreak hill once a week to contribute to our fitness plans.
Tomorrow I run alone.
Recommended reading on your fitness journey: Peak Performance
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