I went back and found last year's post for Super Bowl Sunday, so I could get an idea how running was going then as compared to now. Apparently I ran about 11 miles on that Sunday; I went 10 this year. To be precise, 15K (really, 9.33 on the Garmin) "running" (if you can call it that), and the remainder walking home from Starbucks. I'm counting it.
The difference, however, is that last year I was all gushing about how I was getting into the Zone at the end of my long runs, which presumably means that I was running at least somewhat fast and well. Right now? I haven't felt in the Zone for weeks. There was one good Wednesday a while back... and that's it.
Of course, last year I didn't have a Garmin at this time of year to tell me how fast or slow I was going. But I do know, from the summer and fall when I did have the Garmin, that my typical pace for an "easy" run was anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds faster than my current pace.
I sort of date my slump back to the Las Vegas marathon back in early December. Since then I've been putting in the miles (mostly), but without any results to be proud of.
I'm not all about regrets. I so enjoyed the couple of weeks up to Christmas where we had so much snow that actual running was severely curtailed, but I got to spend a lot of time walking (and running) in snowshoes. (I enjoyed that not because of the lack of running, but because the opportunity to get around on snowshoes!) I'm pleased that I'm still dragging myself out in the cold, dark, often foggy early mornings to run, even if I'm doing it slowly. I'm glad that I've kept my Sunday long runs up in double digits, although I was really pushing it last Sunday by rounding up from 9.97.
On Sunday I was out on my long, slow run and I was plugging up a hill when a truck blew by, filled with teenagers, I think. One of them thought it would be hilarious to shout out the window at me "It's not working!" That immediately reminded me of Sarah's post back in September, where (in a remarkably similar circumstance), a guy yelled at her from a passing car, "run all you want, you'll still be fat!" Sarah is obviously not fat, and she posted some pictures (the likes of which you will never see here) which clearly demonstrated that.
But okay. I'm not as lean and mean as Sarah. But the jerk in the truck couldn't see the jiggly roll around my stomach, my arms which can not be shown in public, or really even, from that distance, the layer of padding on my well muscled legs. I'm not skinny. (I noticed that especially in the mirror during yoga this morning, comparing myself to the truly emaciated older woman beside me.) But I'm also not fat. (Not excessively, anyway.)
Obviously the guy intended to insult me. His implication was that I was running to lose weight, and, obviously, that was not working. In some ways he was right about that. I can run, run, run, and that hasn't made me lose the pounds I want to lose.
But his intended offense had so much more of a negative effect on me. What if I'm not running to lose weight? What if I'm running to become stronger and more fit? It's not working. What if I'm running to get faster? It's not working. What if I'm running to get away from a-holes in trucks who have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than yell insults at other people? It's not working.
This is where I am supposed to turn this around into an inspirational conclusion. My great solution to overcoming negative self-image and re-igniting any fast-twitch muscles that I might possibly have. But what really comes to mind right now is something from Sleepless in Seattle, where Dr. Marcia Fieldstone asks Sam (Tom Hanks) what he is going to do to get over the loss of his wife. He says, "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while."
Okay, I know that sounds morose. Nobody died here. My running is certainly not dead, not even in a coma. It's just a little bit injured. And what am I going to do about it? I'm going to get out of bed in the morning, and I'm going to put on my running clothes.* Then I'm going to step out the front door,** and put one foot in front of other, and just keep doing that. And after a while, I won't have to think about putting one foot in front of the other, because I'll be in the groove and, with a little bit of luck and an earlier sunrise and more clement weather, I'll be back in the Zone again.
*And pee and brush my hair and teeth.
**After strapping on my Garmin and iPod.