It took 18 degree windy weather, 10 hill repeats over the Shelby Pedestrian Bridge in downtown Nashville, and a bum numb enough to eliminate all certainty that my running tights were still up to light a fire.
I’m nearly three weeks into training for the Country Music Marathon. Blame it on the “Polar Vortex,” too much “pop star in jail” media attention, less frequent sunny days or whatever, but I haven’t had the same fire I’ve felt for training that I had 12 months ago. It has left me cynical, unmotivated, and confused (because my Broncos are in the Super Bowl and shouldn’t that be motivation enough? Wes Welker! Eric Decker! OMAHA!) But I digress.
Unlike my purist runner self, I’ve taken 80% of my runs indoors when my iPhone tells me it’s colder than 35 degrees outside. I’ve ignored Training Beast Mode Angel on my right shoulder who says, “tough it out, Taylor. You’ve done this before. You’re a RUNNER.” Training Autopilot Angel on the left is louder, though: “yeah, but…” and I pop myself in the car and head to The Y.
I’ve found comfort in the temperature-regulated gym, predictable treadmill settings, and getting lost in the album Clarity by Zedd. I’ve chosen comfort over discomfort. I’ve settled for good enough over just plain good. Although I’ve completed my workouts, I’ve felt mentally weak and overall defeated.
I was dreading last night’s East Nasty prescribed workout: 10 hill repeats (total around 7 miles) with cold weather and wind. I waivered: I could always take it to the Y (again), leave my warm car and run inside to the warm gym, get on the treadmill, zone out and complete the work, and go home. But my East Nasty training group comes with an elemental dose of accountability. That group is always there, always showing up, and always putting in the work. When I miss a workout, they give me crap because they care. When I show up, they push me harder. This is something the gym doesn’t have. This is something that inspires courage, pushing limits, and getting out of my Y Comfort Zone.
Although my fingers and bum were numb from the beginning, about 15 of us showed each other (and ourselves) what we were truly made of. In comparison, there were about 50 people who showed up for the workout last week when it was a balmy 45 degrees. Each incline presented a new opportunity to shed any annoyance, any fear, any stress or frustration. Each decline offered reward, encouragement, satisfaction. The breath we saw pushed out from our own working lungs was gratifying.
We showed up. We started. We finished. And we crushed even more hills than we did the week before. Beast mode? Beast mode.
Digging deep (with help from accountability) I found some courage, picked it up, dusted it off and used it. That friction started a fire, and I can’t wait to run outside today. Forecast says a high of 28; Training Beast Mode Angel on my right shoulder winks and says, “You got this,” and Training Autopilot Angel on the left shoulder has nothing witty to retort.