there are many muscles and organs that work together to allow you to run: your heart beats faster to pump oxygen carrying blood to your muscles that are working. while your quads, hamstrings, and calves are the principle muscles used while running, your back, abdominals, arms, as well as many other muscles work to keep you stabilized when pounding the pavement. your muscles store glycogen, the fuel to keep you going. and it all works in perfect harmony (hopefully!) to crank out whatever distance you might be gunning for that day.
i am convinced, however, that while all these muscles are crucial, the most crucial component of all is your brain. shoot, it's the organ that gets you off your butt to run in the first place.
let me explain: i just spent the last two weeks hanging out in utah. and how much running did i do there? 0.00. i did hit the gym once for a thirty minute elliptical session followed by thirty minutes of weight lifting, but shoot, the effect was negated by all the celebratory desserts in the first three days there! (maren, kaylynn: slap me later ... it was soooo hard).
fast forward to last thursday. jona and i crank out 3 miles. ugh. it was awful. 8 miles on saturday. again, not so fun. i couldn't get into a groove or relax my breathing the entire hour and eighteen minutes i ran. the 8 mile internal monologue was as follows: "this sucks, why am i such an idiot for NOT running for two weeks? my legs hurt, my feet hurt, it's too hot".
one more fast forward to today. i completed my first interval workout for my 10 week half marathon training plan. 6 intervals of 800M at goal pace with 2 minute recovery in between. i thought i was going to DIE by the third interval. but then i lied to myself, tricking my brain of sorts and said, "shoot! i can do this!" and immediately i perked up a bit. my steps quickened, my breathing quieted, and the last three intervals went just fine. they were still hard, but after i said the simple two words "i can" it was easier. hah, amazing.
so along with my new mantra "this is when your body changes", i will add "i can". try it, you just might like it. :)