Sometimes you can’t run the mile you’re in. This thought came to me tonight as I was running down my last, my fourth, decent of Flat Rock Trail. As I dodged the rocks and icy spots down the steep terrain, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past 4 plus hours I had spent on the mountain. It’s ironic because many runners say that you SHOULD run the mile you are in. Don’t think about what’s ahead, only where you are at the current time. Step by step, get it done. And that is true most of the time. But after today’s workout, I realized that there are times that looking ahead is the only thing that will get you through the difficult miles or mental anguish you are putting yourself through when the mile gets tough and real.
I had done a set of 3 mountain repeats at Flat Rock 3 weeks ago (for a total of 12 miles) and vowed to come back every 3 weeks or so to do more, only adding one set each time. The trail is 1200 ft of elevation in one trip, much of that in the first mile. You can run in the beginning but at 0.4 miles when the trail gets ridiculously steep and doesn’t let up until mile 1, you are force to hike. Each step brings a new challenge, especially with the snow squalls we got on Friday, and especially when you are on your 3rd or 4th ascent. Much of the trail was ice and snow today. Almost all of the trail is rocky and steep. After the first mile there is a nice runnable section again for almost half a mile. Then you have another steep climb to Flat Rock…where you earn the reward for your hard work. An amazing view, and then 2 miles of steep quad busting and knee blasting descent back to your car.
Most people, sane people, then get into said car and drive home to rest, eat, and reflect on the day. I go to my car, grab a quarter of a PB & J sandwich, refill my fluids, and then turn around and do it all again. To be fair, most people aren’t training for a 50 mile race with 11,000 ft of elevation gain. And most people aren’t gluttons for punishment.
I’m going to keep it real here and let you in on a little secret. A lot of negative thoughts were flooding my brain during the first mile of the first three repeats up this challenging trail. “No one will blame you for cutting it short today. You can just do one round trip. Just see what the view looks like today at the top. Then finish your run somewhere else”. But as I ran down the mountain for the fourth time to my car, having finished what I set out to do, I realized that the negative thoughts ONLY came during that first mile. The mile you can barely do in under 19 minutes on a good day without snow, ice, and freezing temps. The rest of the run my thoughts were positive. Even when I knew I would be turning around to do it again. It was like I had forgotten the pain of the relentless uphill. So with each repeat, I was able to silence the inner naysayer and forge ahead, focusing on where I would end up when the terrain became easier. This trail is a valuable tool for me as I make my way into longer races. Yes, it brings a great physical challenge to the table…but more importantly, my mental game is going to be on point after a few more of these workouts! My favorite mantra today was “Relentless forward motion.” I read it somewhere and it really resonated with me. It sounds easy when you are doing something hard!
Some Pics from Flat Rock Today!
Run Down of Week #10 of Training
I’m bummed about not getting in enough lifting and core but next week is cutback and I’m going to make up for it!
Monday: Rest. Literally. I took a nap after work! Naked Bavarian recovery!
Tuesday: 4 easy trail miles with coworkers (so much fun!) & lifting & core
Wednesday: 5 trail miles
Thursday: 9 trail miles, last 3 @ tempo (basically faster than usual)
Friday: Rest. Literally.
Saturday: 12 trail miles
Sunday: 16 mountain repeats on the trail
TOTAL: 46 miles
How was your week of running / lifting / working out?
What is your favorite mantra when the going gets hard?