Progress is a funny thing when it comes to training. Going into last week, I felt I was making serious progress in my preparations and I thought I was really almost there. Then the debacle last Thursday happened and I worried if I was going to even be able to survive the first leg of the race. But after my run yesterday, I think I may be on the right track again.
Yesterday, I decided that I wasn't going to mess around with another long run until I felt I was really ready for it again. As badly as I want to run 8 miles just to know I can do it, I'm not really in a hurry to strand myself 3 miles from home and have to walk back in the heat. So yesterday, I decided to do the 3.25 mile loop around my house just to make sure that I wasn't completely out of shape again.
I feel like in some ways, running is a lot like golf. When you first start golfing, it's frustrating. Your hand-eye coordination is never where you expect it to be and the first time you golf, you usually end up missing the ball more than you end up hitting it. A lot of people (me included) think it only takes one good shot to get you hooked on golf. You hit one ball on the sweet spot of the club and golf pretty much has you in its clutches. The problem is that it usually takes a while to hit the sweet spot again, but it's that memory that keeps you going. For running, I think all it takes is one really good run to get you hooked. The problem is that there are usually a lot of bad runs mixed in with the good ones. There's one thing you can usually count on in both running and golf- if you do really bad one day, you're probably going to do really well the next time out.
Having done about as bad as I could possibly do, I decided to really push myself this time. Every time I felt my body slowing down, I pushed myself harder. While usually, this only lasts so long, yesterday it lasted the entire run. It may have been the best I've ever felt during a run. It may have been whatever I ate the night before or just the lingering shame left over from the last run but, whatever the reason, this run was awesome. I haven't killed a run like this in a long time. I was able to average under a 7:10 mile and finished the run only 30 seconds slower than the time I had clocked for my first run around the 1/2 mile shorter loop.
If nothing else, this run gave me a lot of confidence back. I'm about to go for another run today, so hopefully all the positive momentum from yesterday carries over. So while it may not be always evident, progress is being made. And that's the best feeling I could have right now.