I want to stop. I want to stop so much that it takes all the willpower to force my legs to keep moving. And I haven’t even run a mile! There’s absolutely no way I can complete the remaining eight miles at that pace. I’ll have to split the distance into two intervals, but even then there will still be at least three and a half miles left. This is going to hurt. Bad.
When Love Hurts
I was looking forward to that run. I was literally dreaming about it. A two-mile jog warmup followed by a long nine-mile stretch at marathon pace. Not hard enough to cause trouble but demanding enough to be pleasantly satisfying. A perfect Sunday long run.
Except it was all pain.
From the moment I stepped out of the house, I could feel a peculiar lack of energy. But I had no intention to let that spoil my Sunday experience. After all, Sunday long runs are sacred.
The jog warmup and some drills brought my heart rate smack into the upper zone 3. Pressing the start button, I knew it was going to be a mental challenge to complete this run. I just had no idea it would be such a struggle from the get-go.
The first mile went by, the second, and the third. I somehow refused to stop, but my body ached for a break. Focusing on the countryside emptiness sprawling before me, I plowed ahead. I kept cheering myself. I kept rationalizing: I had been through much more demanding workouts and did fine. I could do this.
But it was killing me.
The course veered slightly to the right and now I was running against the wind. And damned if it wasn’t the same Devil’s fart that carried me forward just last Friday. The smell of manure was unmistakable. It was the countryside all right.
No Trick Works
The agony was impossible to overcome with the usual tricks. Mantras, memories, promises of good food, all lost the battle within minutes of facing this inhuman exhaustion. And the worst thing was that the pace was ridiculous compared to how I was feeling. I was probably pushing forward out of sheer pride than anything else.
I passed the six-mile mark resigned, sure that I was losing pace. My legs felt as if they weren’t moving at all. Just two wooden sticks bumping against the asphalt. I consulted Garmin and it said nothing of the sort—I was on pace! At that moment, I swore to myself to complete the run as planned no matter what. I mean, after enduring six miles of this voluntary purgatory, a mere three miles more made no difference.
And then something weird happened. Suddenly my body wanted more! The pain and discomfort simply disappeared, or rather merged with other bodily functions. Running felt as if it were no exertion at all. As if it were breathing. Even my heart rate dropped. It was beyond amazing. A transcendental experience of going beyond the subjective limit of endurance.
I could have run more, just to keep feeling this sensation. But it would be too much for my body to handle. I finished the run incredibly happy and satisfied.