Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Staying True

On my last few runs, I’ve been wondering about what keeps us honest—both as athletes and as people. I mean, what makes us stick to a workout when no one is watching us or keeping score. On Sunday, for example, my half-marathon training plan said to run 14 miles. It was cold and grey out, and snow flurries (a Portland rarity!) set in at about mile 6. I was doing a loop from our house—down to the Willamette River, south along the westside of the river to the Sellwood Bridge, then north along the east bank and home. The wind pushed at me as I chugged past bridge after bridge. I could have headed across several of them and cut my loop short but, no, the schedule called for 14 miles, so I was doing 14. (Actually, 14.3….)

Then today—a near-freezing, blustery, overcast day—the plan dictated a long track workout. Two miles at half-marathon pace, 2 x 1 mile at 10k pace, then 2 x 800 at 5k pace. With recovery laps and the to-and-from the track added in, it was more than seven miles. Like so many other days, I had the track all to myself. Certainly there was no one watching me, and there was no one at home to question if I got home early. Yet I stayed true to the intervals as they were laid out. I remembered what a friend’s hockey coach used to tell him: “If you cut corners in practice, you cut corners in a game. And if you cut corners in a game, you cut corners in life.”

And I thought about my mother, who abhors lying. One of only two times I got punished (what can I say—I was a perfect, people-pleasing child!) was in 7th grade for lying. It was a harmless lie, yet my usually calm mother was irate. I was grounded for a week. My husband, Jack, and I are very big on teaching almost-6-year-old Phoebe the importance of being honest. It’s a life lesson that serves a girl well wherever the road may lead.



Milana said...

Just wanted to say how much I appreciate you two continuing this blog! I got hooked when you were writing for runnersworld, and I'm so glad there is more to come!

I generally run about 40 miles a week. Last Sunday I arrived home from a run and realized that I needed to run an extra .3 miles in order to hit my mileage goal for the week. I literally ran circles around my block until I was sure that I had covered that distance. It made me feel a little crazy (because really, what is the difference and/or benefit, training-wise, between 39.7 and 40 miles??) but I am glad to see that other runners feel similarly. Mentally I would have felt like I had cheated if I didn't hit that 40 mile mark, so instead I just ran in circles like a hamster--I'm sure to the great amusement of my doorman and anyone else who was around to see me!

knitandrun said...

We are in the middle of the big ice storm that hit Oklahoma. We don't have power (going on 3 days now). My husband is worried about our pipes freezing, more snow on the way, and if we need an electrician to fix the dangling powerline to our house. What was my first thought? How am I going to go running? Trees down, ice everywhere, no street lights. I resorted to the "dreadmill" at the local gym (who has power). I could have easily, with little guilt, not stuck to my training plan, but I know I would pay for it later - like on the day of the marathon. It is about being honest to yourself. I could fool other people, but you always know what you really did.

Lani said...

You are such an awesome inspiration!! If more people were like you, this world would be a much better place.

PDXJulieBryan said...

Thanks Sarah, for a perfectly TIMELY post!! I have to do my workouts at 5am, otherwise family and job take over and I seriously have no other opportunity to train. But even though I'm a morning person, it is sooo hard to get out of bed these days when outside it is dark, freezing, usually windy and/or raining while it is so warm and comfortable in my bed (next to my super warm and comfortable husband!). I feel like I have to have the will of a giant to get vertical. But you are so right - it is ALL about staying true to your goals and to yourself... and subsequently to your family. I missed one morning this week (overslept) and I felt horrible the entire day. No more!