My feet were set free today after a long bout of illness. It was wonderful to get back out there. Jaymon and I ran four barefoot miles along the Altoona bike trails. The sun was shining and people were out everywhere enjoying the day. I was proud of myself in my ability to predict how the run would go and prepare for the aches and pains and sensations I would feel on this run.
Running is not just about conditioning your body. It takes time and effort to condition your mind to the stress you endure when working your body. For me the first mile is my warm up time and I have to relax and manage the kinks and little aches until I am warmed up and better able to asses how I feel that day when those kinks start to fade.
Today I knew that my mental "toughness" would be weaker than my feet from my time off so I was prepared at the start of my run. My mind struggled and felt tired. I would remind myself that the intensity of the movement, the stimulation of nerve endings, and the work I was doing gets easier. You get used to the work and it becomes less intense over time. I am able to push through and progress. I know that I am capable of running marathon distance barefoot and that I will work up to that again and probably fairly quickly but need to work up to it and be smart and not too eager that I set myself back in my impatience.
Interestingly the soles of my feet felt great and I had not lost my efficient running form or the buildup of collagen. I did notice the few winter pounds I had gained and my feet, ankles, and knees had not had time to adjust to the added weight. This too will change as I run more the pounds will come off and I will feel like I am lugging around less mass.
In any exercise there is a fine line between pushing too hard in the name of being "tough". It is still imperative to listen honestly and carefully to what your body is telling you. Assess your twinges and discomfort and decide if they are just stress and discomfort from doing work or injuries coming on. This is difficult since you might mentally be able to push through the pain when your body is in fact sending you signals to stop. Thats where the honesty with yourself comes in. I really have to watch myself with this and Jaymon has had to reign me in many times when I wanted to go farther or faster.
Its amazing that at one time a certain amount of exertion will be perceived as pain and discomfort and yet down the road in training the same amount will become pleasure and effort. I have no doubt that a month from now four miles will seem like a little jaunt and 10 will feel like my four did today.
My toughness is evident by the huge pulsing vein in my forehead!!