There are days when challenges come like giant waves in the ocean of life. Yesterday, was such a day. I resigned to my desk life and discounted any possibility for a run. I reasoned that I was not in the right mental state to focus where my feet would land. Oh la la! Poor me. Then my colleague and running mate showed up and asked if we were running after knocking off.
I initially declined. Then I mulled over the question and when I saw how he seemed eager for a second run this week, I changed my mind. Maybe this could be an opportunity to have a better run, having met against performance issues with the run on Tuesday.
Run In the Dark
So after the dark had settled in, we took off in earnest. We were determined to beat our previous record. This was very exciting. I reckoned that at the speed we were going, we were going to shave off some 10 minutes. This time we had a light, and we thought we could get into the grass trails a little bit away from the tarmac road.
We got into the grass trail, and missed the path. No, the plan was not working as planned. We ditched the idea and resorted to running along the main road.
After joining the main road, there was a slight incline. We tried to sprint it, but our bodies were stingy with liberal energy release. We got the message and throttled back to just above engine idling revs.
The voice from the running app declared that we were doing somewhere around 6 minutes and some seconds per kilometre. Yes! This was good.
Performance is Very Expensive
While my mind was busy chasing wild imaginations of great performances, seeing ourselves attending global competitions the terrain changed. The road was now flat, and we should now be able to increase our pace once again.
Yet that is not what brought me back to reality. It was my legs that were crying for attention. It felt like I had attached blocks of lead on either side of my lower limps. Andrew was close by, but he too was also failing to increase his pace. “C’mon heart, do something. Give us a push” I pleaded. No push came along.
So I decided to change my running technique. I decided to run on my toes. More specifically it was about shifting the weight of the body to the soles of the feet, and keeping the instep, arch and heel in the air.
I took off like a gazelle. This was awesome. My wild imaginations returned. I could now feel the cool breeze on my face. I was in paradise.
Then suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my right calf muscle. It felt like it was caught in a mechanical vice with a vicious lockjaw. I wanted to cry out in excruciating agony. The thought of stopping terrified me. “What will happen to all the minutes we had shaved off already?” I caught myself thinking.
I switched back to being flat-footed, and limped for several metres. However, I couldn’t allow myself to take a break. At that point it occurred to me that great performance is very expensive. It is not easy at all to keep improving one’s speed and range.
Focus on the Finish Line
The next update from the running app confirmed that our speed had dropped significantly. We were still in the bracket of six minutes, but the seconds were fasting approaching the limit.
I pushed myself harder. I was openly groaning whenever there were no pedestrians nearby. Andrew, my running mate, was busy fighting his own devils. His old injury on his right knee resurfaced and it was giving him problems each time he tried to pick up speed.
A stumble, a skid and a turn later we were at the finish line. We covered 6.54 km in 6’58”. This was our best performance ever. And though the gains may not seem significant, the direction of improvement is definitely positive.
We will continue to push harder even if it means only shaving off a second at a time. So should you in whatever you do.
See you at the finish line!