Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crash and Burn!

It was supposed to be a routine Thursday morning six mile run. The problem was, I'm out of my routine.

We've been here since Saturday, and we'll be here until next Sunday, 1000 miles from home visiting my wife's family. (For those of you thinking, "You're crazy for telling people you're away on vacation," my mother is house-sitting for us and taking care of our four ferocious canines.) We're taking things easy, resting and relaxing, enjoying our time with family, but still the daily routine is different. Different meal times, bed times, and every other kind of times.

On top of that, I decided to take advantage of this break in routine to alter a habit that's been really holding me back for a while -- my eating habits. I've barely lost any weight since I started running four years ago, even with putting in so many miles. That's because, the more I run, the more I eat. So starting this week I've really been cutting back on the quantity of food I consume. This is something I've been needing to do, but it's still a break in routine.

Still, I've been working to keep my training on the normal schedule, and doing a pretty good job at it. Until today...

I set out this morning not feeling real energetic, but decided to get in 6 miles like I do every Thursday back home. For the first few hundred yards, my legs felt like logs, stiff and sore and hesitant to loosen up. I pushed on and a half mile or so in I had my pace down to where I wanted it.

The temperature was a little warmer than the past few days, but not too much. Same with the humidity. But even though the differences were slight, their effects seemed to be wearing on me disproportionately as I headed for the turnaround.

I made it to the 3 mile mark and headed back toward the car, still not feeling great, but not necessarily too bad either. By now the sun was up and the air warming quickly. I was keeping my pace just under a 10 minute mile, right where I wanted it.

I hit the four mile mark, still on target. At this point I was on a long, straight stretch of the paved trail. I could see the road crossing that would mark 4.5 miles when thoughts of walking first entered my head. As I began to decelerate, I talked myself out of it and sped up again, determined to finish the run.

But just before I reached that crosswalk, with only 1.5 miles to go, I shut it down, then walked the rest of the way to the car.

It wasn't an injury, no pain to be pinpointed and blamed for my shortened workout. It was more like this whole mind and body feeling of just being depleted, void of any and all energy to keep going. I was done for the day.

I had crashed and burned.

This feeling's nothing new, especially in hot and humid weather. But it usually occurs on long runs and usually when I'm running with a group. Today was only supposed to be six miles and I was on the trail alone.
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." -- Proverbs 27:17
In fact, even my six mile runs on Tuesday and Thursday are with a group when I'm back home. That makes a big difference. It's just easier to keep going, or harder to let yourself quit, when there are others running with you. Part of it is the desire to keep up with your buddies, and part because of the encouragement they provide when you start to weaken. Today though, out of my routine, it was just me.

I realized this morning the change in eating habits also likely had something to do with my less than stellar performance. Not only am I taking in fewer calories than I'm accustomed to, but I've also been taking in a lot less salt.

That may sound like a good thing to many who were raised on the rhetoric that salt is a terrible thing. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that I'm going to die because of the salt I consume. But I've always needed more salt than the average bear.

During two-a-day football practices in high school I had to take salt tablets because I would literally sweat all the sodium out of my body. When I worked moving furniture in the summer I need the supplement too. And, since I've been running again, I've taken these same little pills to replenish my system with salt. But I forgot to bring them with me and I haven't been taking them since we've been here.

Some of the things that led to this morning's crash can't be fixed. I'm not going to get back to my normal routine until we're back home. But the last problem, the lack of salt, is something I'll take care of today. I've got two twelve mile runs planned for tomorrow and Saturday so today will be spent replenishing salt and electrolytes.

Even though today's run went south, it could have been worse. It could have happened tomorrow or Saturday on runs that are far more important to my training program than the mile and a half I lost today.
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." -- Isaiah 40:29
I'm grateful God let all this come to a head on a not-so-important run. As always, He know's what He's doing even when I don't. My crash today means I'll be back and ready tomorrow and Saturday for the most important runs on this week's schedule.

Today I was weary and weak, tomorrow I'll be refreshed and revived thanks to His grace!

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