Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When I'm Good, I'm Very, Very Bad

Here’s how it normally works: I silently bitch and complain to myself about the day’s planned race pace time trial all the way up to the moment I step out the door. I make up so many excuses about why I don’t want to run/can’t run, you’d think that I’m Viper. Heck, I even consider skipping the run altogether and posting a review of beer no one is going to drink.

But I goad myself into lacing up the ole Asics and getting out there anyhow. I’m not RazZ; I won’t quit completely.

When apathy strikes, the first step is often the hardest. I have this curiously incurious intellect. I convince myself that I’ll cut down my planned 9 miles to 4-5 miles making a difficult race pace run into a comparative walk in the woods. It buoys the spirit and offers an acceptable compromise to the psyche. Well, I don’t feel like nine miles but I can do five. Let’s get the shoes on! I’ve done this a hundred times but I still fool myself. I know that, once running, I’ll complete the entire planned distance but it helps to get me out the door. I must be a complete English banker boob to continue to fall for this every time. Now I know how Ian feels. But, sometimes, whatever works, right?

So when I’m in one of those not so motivated moods and I’ve played mind games just to start the run, you’d think that my planned pace and distance would crash and burn like so many Christian Slater television series launches, right? Wrong. The more I complain, the more I make fun of my favorite blogger targets, the better my run goes. It’s like my hatred of hard effort, RazZ, Viper and Ian fuels my running success. My best runs often follow 3-4 hours of solid internal bitching. I get out there and I can just feel the anger and annoyance flowing through my lungs and expelling like so many twangs of the banjo. My legs churn effortlessly like Bobby Flay’s mixer through some potatoes. My feet beat back the sidewalk like a banker cackling at a struggling debtor with an anguished, outstretched arm pleading for mercy. When I’m done, the apathy and complaining have poured through the pores creating an ever expanding PR -paced puddle on the kitchen floor beneath me as I drink post-run water.

When my mood is bad, my runs are very good. Hate and anger breed PRs.

Conversely, when I’m good, I’m very, very bad. Sometimes, the weather is perfect. The birds are chirping. My hamstrings are loose and stringy. Heck, the banjo doesn’t even sound like the ominous precursor to ass rape. I want to run all day and all night and a bit more the next day until Breaking In is on. If someone asked me if I wanted to re-mortgage my home with the devil himself, I’d at least listen to the rates.

But this happiness and motivation only lasts for a mile or two. It gives way to pain, struggle, grimacing, sadness, more grimacing and, ultimately, failure. My planned pace and distance isn’t met. The joy and positive energy dissipated like a delicious Flay steak released with a gaseous shart a few hours later. Gone. Nothing to show for it except some indigestion and less laundry soap. When I’m happy and relaxed, my runs suck. Plain and simple.

Positivity In = Failure Out
Negativity In = Success Out

I must have the hate and rage and annoyance and disgust in order to run my best. I want to get this run over with right fucking NOW. I run with purpose and intensity. I run to conquer goals and show no mercy. I run to GET DONE.

The other kind of running works great when I’m not preparing for a race. I love to watch butterflies frolic and birds chirp. If I need to slow up to clear room for a toddler on a tippy tricycle, so be it. It’s a lovely day and this just gives me a few extra moments to enjoy it. And, awww, look at the little horn. Running relaxed is certainly less stressful…but also less successful.

If I’m approaching a race – as I am in less than two weeks – you better watch out. There’s a freight Hate Train rolling down the sidewalks. It cares not of butterflies and banjos, Bobby’s and bikes. It cares only of PRs and Completing This Damn Run.

It leaves old PRs and tipped trikes and skinned knees in its wake.

Happy trails.


The Sean said...

Being the McEnroe of running can't be all bad...or is that exactly the point?

Leauxra said...

I think you are running on the Dark Side of the force. But Vader was always cooler than that pansy Obi Wan, so you might be on to something.

But your post was an epiphany for me. I also have to have to be in a sucky mood to run well. Weird.

Ian said...

As much as I want to fire a retort back at you I have to applaud the excellent use of the RazZ wearing a Buffs shirt picture.

Al's CL Reviews said...

Oh the sucky mood does usually make the run faster.

Bobby Flay makes something off the grill and without chipotle? Who knew.

Kolla said...

Brilliant insights Nitmos, as always. I'm struggling now, because since I switched to early morning runs, nothing has had the chance to piss me off yet... but the afternoon track workouts are looking very promising :)

Viper said...

I think you've mentioned banjo more in this post than I have in my entire blog. (Well, at least my running blog.) I run better when I don't care. That's why I've left the watch at home since last year. Hate will get you far, indifference will get you ... who cares where.

Razz said...

You were doing fine until the jersey picture. Of course, now my hatred turns towards Michigan

Elizabeth said...

It must just have to do with expectations. When expectations are high, there is little room to go higher, but plenty of room for disappointment, and likewise, when expectations are low, there is little room for further disappointment but lots of room to do better than expected.

Xenia said...

This is your best post ever.

The Merry said...

So, if negative input produces the best results, I should tell you that this blog post sucked, right?

Coodxbip - this post was a load of coodxbip

Danielle in Iowa in Seattle said...

So on race day, how do you make yourself raving mad at the world? Intentionally drive through a cluster of little old ladies hogging the road? It has to follow that your PRs come when you are livid!

Psyche said...

You should get divorced, man. Your eyes will be filled with tears of rage but your legs will be a virtual hate train of speed.

File this under "Don't repeat to Mrs. Nitmos".