Playing “taxi mom” on a bike helped me get in a great ride last week. Even better, it also equipped me with a new mental tool that proved helpful during Saturday’s 7-mile training run.
When I first embraced the idea of sharing a car with my son after our third-string beater gave out recently, I liked the challenge of adapting my workouts to our transportation needs but doubted it would have much effect on my fitness level, since I already was working out nearly every day as it was.
In just a little over a week, though, I’m already finding that deadline pressure to get somewhere in a hurry is making me run faster. And my innate desire to be a good mom wound up adding a few miles (and one particularly useful insight) to my bike ride on Thursday.
I’d already toted a couple of peanut butter sandwiches down to our car parked at the high school so my son would have something to eat after his road-trip baseball game and was heading off on a joy ride, basically, when it occurred to me that I really ought to have left him a Gatorade as well. We didn’t have any at home, just 1½ miles down the road, so I decided to ride to a Walgreen’s on the edge of Bluffton, about 6 miles away.
Once I’d picked up a drink for both of us – mine went straight down the hatch while his went in my bottle holder – I decided to add a couple of miles to my return trip to reduce traffic. (I’d somehow taken off without wearing my helmet, and had been somewhat unnerved by the surprising number of semis passing me on S.R. 116.)
This would make for an even longer stretch against the wind that I would’ve faced otherwise. But on a recent scouting trip to see what it would be like to ride to an elementary school where I sometimes substitute teach, I’d discovered that I can handle a tough wind better than I thought I could if I just hunker down, accept the situation, and work my way through it.
This time I found myself actually embracing the windy part of the ride, because as a control freak, it’s kind of nice to know ahead of time where the struggle is likely to occur. (In life as well as in fitness, it’s often the worrying and anticipation that do me in rather than the actual problem itself.)
This lengthy detour eventually offered a shortcut home if I was willing to forego delivering the Gatorade. If I’d just been on a fitness ride I probably would’ve taken it. But since “Taxi Mom” was in the driver’s seat I forged ahead, riding an extra 3 miles or so to complete my mission.
Compared with some of the strategizing that went into my transportation-based runs during the week, Saturday’s 7-mile training run was a piece of cake, logistically speaking. I felt pretty good despite a bit of underlying muscle soreness. But at any distance over 5 miles or so there tends to come a low point in the run – and unlike in cycling, I usually have no idea when or where this is going to occur, much less how long it’s likely to last.
With that bike ride fresh in my mind, though, I decided that this was the part of the run where I was “riding against the wind.” I hunkered down, slowed my pace and shortened my horizon, focusing on looking just a few feet ahead so I wouldn’t dwell on how far I had to go.
I think sometimes when I start feeling really rotten on a run I assume the rest of the way is going to be a struggle, that it’s just going to be one of “those” runs. And then because that’s what I expect, that’s what it turns out to be.
“Just get through this part, and things will get better before long,” I told myself. And this time, because that’s what I expected, things did get better. I wound up finishing strong and feeling great, if a bit tired.