So the day before yesterday, I bumped up my running intervals from four and one to five and one. In addition, I still completed 6 intervals, so I increased the length of my run 6 minutes. As a result, my overall run went from 24 minutes running, 6 minutes walking to 30 minutes running, 6 minutes walking.
It didn't kill me. It also wasn't easy.
I got through it with a few techniques. (I should add in here that I've been battling with either allergies or a mild cold, which has certainly added to the challenge.) So.
Internal boost #1: At the beginning of my run, I told myself that the 6th and final interval was optional, that if I only did five, I'd still complete a total time of 30 minutes while increasing the challenge by running a bit more. So I said to myself if I couldn't complete the sixth one, it would actually be alright, because that interval would be a bonus interval.
This is a funny way I have of tricking myself. Sometimes, when my muscles are still warming up, my lungs don't seem to have quite caught on to what I'm doing, the beginning of my run is a struggle, so I'll tell myself, "Well, just make it to point X, and you'll be doing alright." Even as I think this to myself, I know that unless I'm feeling pain that indicates overuse or injury, I certainly won't be stopping at point X. I know all the while that I intend to complete the whole damn thing. BUT, by giving myself the option to stop early, I help myself over that mental hump of thinking, "I can't get through all of this today." Also, and this might be funny, but I begin to become competitive with myself with a sort of inner dialogue: "What, you think I need to quit early? Pssh, you quit early, I'm in this for the long haul."
Internal Boost #2: Sometimes it helps to have a mantra for those tough minutes when I just want to look at my watch constantly to see if I've made it to my minute of walking yet. So I saw this once, maybe on Pinterest, and it has become my mantra when I hit my second-to-last interval and feel as though I'm running on fumes:
"Your mind gives up before your body does."
Pretty simple, right? But it is the equivalent of saying, hey, even though you think you're exhausted, you're body is still capable of a helluva lot more. Because running, or any physical pursuit, is not just about training your body. You are also training your mind.
So there you have it. I have some other exercises that I use to help me through runs, things like visualizing running along the ocean or imagining someone I love running beside me cheering me on. Sometimes just the act of building those mental images distracts me enough from the physical discomfort. But, ultimately, it is basically all mental. I mean, I do physical things, like warm-up walk, brief stretching, plus a cool down walk and more elaborate stretching, and I try to keep my core tight while I'm running and adjust my gait when I need to. My point, however, is that the mental work is just as important (sometimes moreso) as the physical work.
And that is where I'm at now, up to five and ones for this week. I'm proud that I am staying consistent, and I'm feeling so motivated by the 5K coming up. My goal is to finish it in under 40 minutes, which probably doesn't seem like a lot, but it will be a great accomplishment for me.
As an added bonus, I've lost 5 1/2 pounds and moved in a notch on belt, which is pretty exciting as well.
I love the idea that running is becoming a basic fact of my life, and I am feeling lighter, both mentally and physically.
More to come as I add some cross-training, work to make sure that I am eating right and enough, and build some much-needed body confidence, so stay tuned!