I hate speedwork. It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes, I get headaches afterward that feel like sharp blades plunging into my head. Luckily, they are short lived. Still, they are not pleasant.
Not to mention the pressure I put on myself to run faster than the last 400, 800, mile, whatever distance that day, especially if I’m training for an upcoming race. I was once near tears I had myself so in knots over the anticipation of my speed workout! Did I mention that I don’t like speedwork?
Last Wednesday, though, I craved it. Work – and LIFE – have been a bit stressful in my world as of late to say the least. Last week marked my most stressful work week since I started my postdoc in September, and Wednesday afternoon marked an ugly spike in my stress-o-meter for the week.
I’ll spare you the details of my struggles with getting to know SAS as a data analytic tool. Suffice it to say that I was so frustrated with (my inability to use) it that I had to escape my office to get a breath of fresh air on Wednesday afternoon.
I left everything I love behind in Colorado to pursue career aspirations for a second time when I came to UNC in the fall. A SECOND time. Frustration on this level left me questioning if I had made the right choice for about the gazillionth time since my first move to North Carolina in June 2011.
I sat, playing with my Nalgene bottle donning an Irish Snug Running Club sticker (my FAV running club in Denver that you will absolutely hear all about if you keep reading the blog!), watched traffic go by, and daydreamt of the speed workout awaiting me a few hours later: twelve 400s with my North Carolina running buddy and savior many times over – also named Melissa – training for her second Boston Marathon.
I pictured the track – Illuminated only by distant flood lights and the night sky – at my feet, a furrowed brow and straight mouth of determination on my face, gaining speed with every step and taking each curve at a faster pace than the last. Just that fantasy was enough to con me back into the office to finish the work day.
Enter Melissa, a smile and friendly ‘hello’ as always. When it came down to business, though, this sweet, innocent little Montessori teacher can bring some serious heat in the form of winged feet. She is NO mere mortal, trust me! A two-mile warm up, water bottle refill, and half a Clif bar later, we got to work. We didn’t start off all that fast, but our last timed lap around the track was the fastest we’ve run this year so far according to my Garmin’s number crunching.
VOILA! Just like magic, I am back to my old self and feeling relaxed and better than ever. In just about an hour and a few fast miles, I had done a complete mental 180. The moral of this story? Embrace life’s challenges. They only make you stronger. And, when they get to be too much, don’t ever underestimate the cathartic power of a good run.