Every runner I’ve ever met has a mantra that loops on repeat in their heads as they tackle the toughest parts of training. Something encouraging to calm their minds, reset their focus and push themselves through a challenging segment. Phrases like:
- One mile at a time.
- You’re tougher than the rest.
- Everything is temporary, including this haircut.
For me, the mantra that helps me dig deep when the going gets tough is this one: They didn’t say it would be easy; they said it would be worth it.
From the last six miles of a marathon to every time I climb Harlem Hill, those 14 words keep me pushing myself forward toward my goals, even if I’d rather throw in the towel and quit.
I had that idea in mind — that tough things are worth it, especially in fitness — when I decided last week to register for the Prospect Park Track Club Cherry Tree 10-Miler, scheduled to take place this morning in Brooklyn’s slightly smaller and more inferior version of Central Park (I realize them’s fighting words.)
Sure, it was supposed to get cold this weekend, but with the NYC Half Marathon just five short weeks away, I thought forcing myself to race 10 miles on a cold Valentine’s Day morning would be just the challenge I needed to get myself in half marathon racing shape, mentally and physically. They didn’t say it would be easy, I thought to myself as I handed over my credit card and completed registration; they said it would be worth it.
And then I woke up this morning to find this:
Part of me wanted to bundle up anyways, make the hour-long commute to Brooklyn, race that 10-miler [climate-be-damned] and prove that even -19 degree windchill wasn’t enough to get me down. It wasn’t going to be easy; it was going to be worth it. But then I thought about it, and I realized there’s a big difference between pushing through a challenging workout when you’d rather lay out the couch and doing something reckless and dangerous just to be stubborn. They didn’t say it would be easy; they said you’ll get frostbite.
A big part of being a successful athlete is knowing your own limits, and for me, negative double digit temperatures fall into that category. But that doesn’t mean I just stayed on the couch. No, sir. I fell back onto another of my mantras instead: Choose your battles.
In this case, the battle I chose was to skip the race entirely and do a self-inflicted indoor triathlon at beautiful Yorkville gym Asphalt Green with my friend Leigh-Ann instead.
Sure, there were no bib numbers and no timers and no high-speed transitions and no water stations, but we still went through the motions of doing all three workouts back to back to back.
First, we swam laps for 30 minutes in a pool that’s fancier than even my wedding dress is going to be.
Then, we took a spin class, and I even turned the dial (a little).
Then we hopped on side-by-side treadmills for a speedy 5K (and a progress check on the neighborhood’s new Garbage Transfer Station. Fine craftsmanship.)
By skipping the 10-miler and doing our alternate triathlon instead, that means we didn’t get medals or bagels or t-shirt or anything. But we did complete a 2-hour long cross-training workout before noon, burn off the chocolate hearts we’re sure to eat later, and prove that flexibility is key when it comes to working out, and hey, that’s not a bad lesson for this rigid schedule-follower to remember on a cold, February morning.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, EVERYONE! How are you taking care of your heart?