can =/ should

Last night I forced myself to run because I was being lazy.

Then I forced myself to run too hard and too fast… because I was greedy.

Then I wrongfully boasted about it… because I wanted praise (?).

I made it my New Year’s resolution to run a 10K race at the end of May.  At the time I was an “okay” runner and I did it mostly because I wanted a goal to work towards and something that would keep me motivated to work out and stay fit.  While I could almost run 5K in 30 min, I thought it would be an amazing goal for me to run the 10K in an hour.  I did, after all, have 5 months to work towards that goal.

I then decided to ask K to run the race with me, and she agreed: she had some new fitness goals to reach as well.   It wasn’t long before we both realized that K runs much slower than I do.  I don’t care, really (honestly, I don’t).  My priorities for the race were to (a) just do it, and (b) have fun.  After I found out that I’d be moving away, it became even more important to have a good time running with K.  At that time, I decided that my personal goal of finishing 10K in under an hour wouldn’t be something I would accomplish at this upcoming race.

In the last 4 months, I have increased my endurance and my speed, and I have even run the 10K distance in two different practice runs with K.  In both of these runs, I let her set the pace and we made pretty good time.  First 1:10, then 1:07.  She always mentions that she feels bad for slowing me down and even says that I can go ahead without her.  I remind her that I just want to have fun and that the speed doesn’t matter.

Since we spend most of our time training apart, we often send each other text message updates about our personal training sessions.  From these, I know that she is trying very hard to increase her speed and endurance to more closely match me.  All the while, I have been working to better myself as well.  Each time she sends me an update, she has done an amazing job, but she undercuts herself and comments on how it’s “better than nothing.”  I reply by telling her that it’s amazing!  Every time I run, I hesitate to tell her about it because I worry it will make her feel bad that I am still faster than her.

Anyway, back to last night:

I forced myself to run on the treadmill because the weather was crappy (despite it being almost the middle of May…).  I was going to run for 45 min just to get a really good workout.  I was running at a good pace and I was feeling great.  When I looked at the distance and the time, I realized I was going to get 5K in by about 27 min.  This isn’t super difficult for me, and I’m sure that I have run that just as fast, if not faster, in the past.  But, I knew I had 15 more minutes to run and instead of slowing down my pace a little, I suddenly got this genius idea to push myself and see if I could keep up the pace and run the full 10K… in under an hour.  At the 45 minute mark, I had just barely 8km.  I was going to stop because I was at my goal for the night, and I was tired.  I had pushed pretty hard and that should have been enough.  But it wasn’t.

I kept going.  I pushed hard and saw 9km… then I counted down in 100m increments… and I finally hit 10km.  Time – 56:55.  I slowed down to a walk and tried to walk it off, but I just had nothing left and I collapsed onto the floor.  I laid there for a while until I felt sick.  I had to get up and sit on the veranda in the cool rain for fear that I was going to die from over-work or exhaustion.  I was excited that I actually met my goal, but my body certainly was not feeling good about it.  

I contemplated sending my update to K.  We usually do… and this was a big one: she knows what my goal is (and I know she feels like she is keeping me back from it).  I almost wasn’t going to send it because I didn’t want her to feel bad – but then I thought maybe she’d feel a little more motivated?  Or, maybe she would just be excited for me that I reached my goal.  Either way, I decided to send it.  She never replied to me.

Two hours later, I still felt like crap (and I still felt a little over worked when I woke up this morning).  I also felt bad for telling K about something that I knew might make her feel bad about herself.  Before I went to bed I decided to send her an email to tell her how stupidly over ambitious I was and how gross I felt because of it (among some other things I had to tell her).  I decided it would be a long time before I attempted to run that distance at that speed again (which is the truth).

I definitely learned that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  

This is applicable to multiple situations from my evening…

4 thoughts on “can =/ should

  1. I hate that feeling. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments, and I hope that isn’t why she didn’t text you back. Maybe she just forgot? It happens!


  2. congratulations on reaching your running goal! what a wonderful feeling to know that you can do it, whether or not you decide to ever try to run 10k in less than an hour ever again:-) you wanted to do it, and you did it, and now you can joyfully run the 10K with k at whatever pace makes sense for her, without worrying about whether it is slowing you down. the race with K doesn’t need to be run in less than 1 hour–because you have already done it! congrats!!! you have already fulfilled your running goal, and can now guilt-free enjoy your friendship goal–enjoying running with k, without worrying about whether you are holding yourself back. you are not holding yourself back. you are already where you want to be. unless you feel like you need to see the sub-hour time on race day to accomplish your goal?
    when’s the race? hope you both enjoy it!


    1. Thanks for the encouragement! We ran last weekend and did it in 1:05. We were both very happy with that and had a great time doing it!


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