This winter, the polar vortex has been defeating me. I’ll admit it. I’ve been wimping out of running in the cold. Granted, we’ve had enough snow, the kind that packs and lingers for weeks and melts and then refreezes over night, that trying to run outside could be fairly dangerous on many days. But a) not all days would it have been dangerous, and I picked the treadmill anyway, and b) while on the treadmill, out of the 23 or so times I’ve run in the last month (besides my Southern half-marathon of course), like 19 of those times were on the treadmill and only 1 out of those 19 times did I program incline changes into my workout.

So yeah. I’ve still been running, which is great. Possibly actually I’ve been running too much. I read somewhere somebody referring to just running the treadmill to get the miles in with no incline changes as “garbage miles.” At the time I was like, “how can running for 10 miles be garbage just because it was on a flat treadmill? I put speed intervals in!” Well, I still wouldn’t call them garbage per se, because it was better than not running at all, but…

…Well, yesterday I found out why they weren’t exactly helping a whole lot to be ready to run outside again.

Saturday was okay. It was 40-50 degrees during the day and sunny, so I actually headed outside.

5 hilly miles
5 hilly miles (my Garmin is always about .06-.11 different than my phone)

It felt tough at times, and at times I kind of missed the safety of my gym without any rushing cars passing by, but when I was done I felt great. It was slower than what I normally clock 5 miles at on the treadmill (usually closer to a 10:30 pace than an 11:00), but I felt good knowing I’d gotten out there and gotten back on the hills.

My out and back route
My out and back route

I could definitely feel it in my quads and hamstrings. But I had confidence I could do my long run outside the next day. More than the confidence, I knew I should. I’ve got Glass Slipper Challenge coming up, and while I have seen that it is going to be a flat course, I also know the heat and humidity is going to be a surprise and more than being able to conquer the hills I need to be able to conquer the mental challenge of KEEP GOING, YOU CAN DO THIS. Remembering to hydrate with electrolytes, not letting my nerves or fears get the best of me. I know physically I can do it – I ran in heat and humidity this past summer, and albeit not Florida heat and humidity, I’ve got my game plan for staying cool, hydrated, and physically all there.

My worry is my mind will start to freak out on me.

Like it did yesterday.

Hills may be different than heat, but my mind is the same mind.

Yesterday I set out for a 14 mile “longest long run” before the GSC. We had guests coming over for the Super Bowl, but I assessed the time I had to go the distance as being enough to get me home just as people were showing up, so I could hop in the shower and be presentable before too long.

But somewhere between the heftiness of the distance (I’ve never run farther than 13.1), the pressure of being home in time, the quickness with which I set out after eating breakfast, and probably the fact that I ate a very early and meager dinner Saturday night and then forgot to eat anything else until the next day, I started to feel dizzy. Not just dizzy, but my legs felt like lead.

And I think when I noticed my legs felt like lead, I started to freak out. I was only a mile or a mile and a half in, and I started freaking out about how much further I had to go.

I slowed my pace, knowing I couldn’t be trying to move my legs as fast as I can when I’m on the flat treadmill, but then I started freaking out about how long it would take me to complete the distance on roads that suddenly felt a lot busier than they used to feel (they are completely residential and in retrospect no busier than usual). I felt unprotected, unsafe, and in a rush.

I quit. At 1.5 miles I turned around and headed for home, walking about half the time.

I felt utterly defeated. My legs felt tired, but more than that, I felt winded, a little dizzy, and panicked about my upcoming race season. I’ve signed up for a lot of races this spring. If I’ve burned myself out, that’s a lot of money and a lot of excitement down the drain.

But I got a lot of good support yesterday after feeling kind of blue. Mainly to the tune of this:

bad-runI’ve had bad days before. When I was first starting out, I was only running 3 times a week, 1-2 miles a run. Sometimes I couldn’t even do that, and I’d give up and go inside and freak out I wouldn’t be able to finish my first 5K. Yes, a back to back 10K and half-marathon in Florida heat and humidity is a lot more challenging and potentially dangerous than a mid-Atlantic 5K in May, but I also know how bad I want it. How bad I don’t want to go home empty-handed, a quitter. I know how much adrenaline and course support there will be in Disneyworld. I know I will finish the races for my Team Noah kids. I know I will learn from this and remember to eat, give myself time after eating, and wake up earlier to do so for future long training runs on days I also have other things to do. I know I will make myself take rest days more often.

And I know I’ll bounce back.

I’m not sure if I should make up the 14 miles this weekend instead of the tapering down to 10 miles I had planned. But either way I think I will be okay.