The defiance of the long-distance runner

You know you’ve been away from double-digit mileage too long when you actually start to crave the taste of Carb-Boom.

These were the self-imposed limitations muttering in my ears this morning as I struggled to convince myself to get up and go for a run: “It’s too early. You need more sleep. You can’t run 10 miles. You haven’t run more than five miles since November … and you walked half of that five-miler you tried Saturday. You haven’t had any breakfast. You don’t have any Gatorade. You haven’t been drinking enough water. You’re going to get woozy. You’re going to pass out. You’re going to hurt yourself. You always get too hot when you run on the treadmill. You can’t possibly run 10 miles today.”

That little voice of false limitation is the same little voice that chases every marathoner through weeks of training. It gets up early on long-run days and prances along in front of you, whining its hateful little sing-song about how this is too hard and you’ll never make it. It whispers lies about blisters and dehydration and The Wall while you run, and it wakes you up in the middle of the night with aggressive mental suggestions about muscle cramps. It uses all sorts of dirty tricks to try to make you believe in it. You continually have to tell it to pipe down, because you’d never finish if you let it keep yanging at you.

I silenced it this morning with 10 strong miles on the treadmill (adding a tenth of a mph to my speed every 15 minutes or so, just to rub it in) and a poem I’d learned as a child and then forgotten until today:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me —
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

— Shel Silverstein

I’m 33 days from 26.2.

Bring it.