Notes From a Hired Pen

Week 10: Where’s your head at?

Six miles, including 4 sets of 1200m repeats with 400m recovery in between, 58:58

When I set out on my run today, I was in not in a good mood. A few things have been dragging me down:

1. Contract negotiations. I’m in a bit of a tense situation with a big publisher trying to force (really terrible) contract terms on me after the story they assigned has already been published. It’s involved a lot emails to sort out. It sucks. It’s part of the business but a terrible one, and it makes me want to stomp around and scream, especially since this hiccup is holding up payment, and a sizable one at that (also writers: why are you signing these things? They’re AWFUL. This is the third such contract I’ve been presented in the last six months. One company refused to negotiate, so I turned down the assignment. The second sent me a new, acceptable contract. We’ll see about the third. Stand up for yourself folks. It’s worth it).

2. My book comes out in three weeks. This should be an exciting time, and it is, but there’s about 1,027 moving parts and things that need to be done before that day. An excerpt from the book is scheduled to run in a Very Big Publication on Thursday, too. It’s the first time a lot of people will see what the book is really about, and I worry. On Sunday night, I had a dream that a pack of runners came into my bedroom and were grabbing at me. I woke up screaming. So yeah, I’m a little bit anxious about that.

3. High mileage weirdness. Last week I ran 48 miles. I said in my newsletter this week that things get…weird when I cross over 50, but that’s already happening. Last night, I put clothes in the washer and didn’t turn it on (and only realized I didn’t do that when I tried to put dry sheets in the dryer). Then I put part in my pasta water. I crawled into bed before 9pm last night. Forty-eight miles might not be a lot for a pro, but it still took me eight hours to do them last week. Eight house of intense physical activity is a lot. I’m drained. I need to step up work on my naps.

4. Big profile project. I took one on, due in two weeks. It’s not hard work, but it’s a lot of work, and it’s there on my shoulder, always.

I took this (and more) into my run today. I also decided to do some last minute work tasks instead of starting when I wanted to, then didn’t eat far enough in advance of the run for the food to settle down into my stomach. Then I found out that – once again – the track I usually use was populated by sulking teenagers walking laps (HOW IS THIS GYM CLASS?!) FINE I told myself and decided to do speedwork on a paved loop around a nearby park.

It didn’t go well. I was 20 seconds slower in my first 1200m run than I wanted to be.  I couldn’t settle my mind down, couldn’t settle into my pace. Seeing that number on my watch was incredibly disheartening. I almost just quit there.

But I did my second 1200m and missed my goal by one second. I took that into my third 1200m and was five seconds under my goal. I was completely drained but still launched into the fourth 1200m and was again five seconds under my goal.

The whole point of this (aside from a bit of venting) is that the other stuff in your life can have a huge impact on how you run. Physically I’m a bit tired but fine and should have been able to hit my marks without pushing myself so far, but the extra mental weight I’m carrying around made that workout so much harder, even if I hit my marks in the last three repeats.

I hope that by May 1, on race day, my mind is not bouncing around like it was today. That’s another lesson here: when things go wrong on a training run, I analyze why and then see what I can do to prevent it in the future. Doing this with where your head’s at is just as important as your body.

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