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Three, three minutes … muah, ah, ah, ah …

August 22, 2011

I’ve never taken the time to appreciate just how long three minutes actually is. Sure, I’ve listened to songs on the radio, sat through commercial breaks on TV and microwaved a burrito, but I didn’t have to do anything during that time.

Mike Johnston has made a similar point many times about practicing the drums. Sure you can sit down and play for an hour, no problem. But if you were told to sit still and play paradiddles at 90 beats per minute for three minutes without stopping, you would be asking how much longer you had to go after only 45 seconds to a minute.

The point is, while three minutes is a span of time that seems too short for most things, when you’re new to running, it can seem like an eternity at first.

I knew this day was coming ever since I began this program. I didn’t think about it most of the time, but every now and then that little voice would go, “How the fuck are you going to do three minutes?”

Well Mr. Voice-in-the-back-of-my-head, the answer is — The same way I’ve done every workout.

After my last session, I did consider repeating Week Two if this morning’s run just killed me, but honestly, from the second I hit the publish button on my last journal entry on the subject, the thought never crossed my mind. Nothing having to do with running did.

I’ve been in a fairly good mood for a few days so I didn’t even bother psyching myself up. My mantra of “Just keep going” has become like an automatic karate defense move. Anytime the smallest self-defeating thought starts to form, it’s like I just wave my arm, deflect and go about my business.

“Show me ‘Sand the Floor.’ Now,  Just keep going.”

On the way to the track, I did consider that this would be a greater test of physical endurance than any of the previous sessions … not a worry, just an observation. So as I got out of my truck I cued up Girl Talk’s “All Day.” It’s constant, it flows and most importantly, it keeps moving. I’m still feeling out the majority of my “running” playlist, and the last thing I wanted was to be two minutes in and have a poor song choice serve as the motivation that’s supposed to carry me through the third minute. I played it safe, and it was a smart choice.

Having the 5K app keeping track of my intervals was hugely appreciated as well, and will be throughout the rest of the program. Every day from this point is going to be a challenge, and I’m going to need all of my focus to be on the task at hand, not on things that can be automated by my phone.

After my first minute-and-a-half run, I was aware that my endurance had improved after repeating sets at that length for three days. I paced myself well, so there really wasn’t a noticeable recovery period afterward. It was more of a mental preparation. I told myself that I only have to do what I’d just done for twice as long, but no matter what, “Just keep going.”

Just as I started to think that I might be in over my head is when the little British lady in my phone told me to stop running. “Yes ma’am.”

The biggest issue was controlling my breathing. I felt like I got winded way before my body actually got tired. I’ve read about a few breathing exercises, and I might be able to work on this if I actually were to become a person who meditates as opposed to a person who feels good about having the intention to start meditating.

My ability to quickly recover didn’t seem to have been hindered by doubling my run time, but I didn’t spend too much time observing it. I was excited by the fact, yet still trying to convince myself that I’d actually run for three minutes. I’ve had time to process and my mind’s been occupied since then, so it isn’t as easy to aggrandize that accomplishment as it would have been if I’d written this immediately after my run. However, the fact that I made it through this session is, at least to me, a huge accomplishment.

Now I was halfway done, “Dude, that wasn’t too bad, right? No. OK, so just do that one more time, and then we’re done for the day.”

Having just run for the longest amount of time I’d ever gone, I had no problem getting through my next minute-and-a-half set. I was more tired afterward than at the finish of my first set, but I just kept focusing on getting control of my breath, “In, 2, 3, 4, out, 2, 3, 4 …”

“Just one more set. Just keep going.”

Even though I didn’t feel completely rested by the time I was commanded to “Start running now,” I did start smiling as I began. I set a slower pace and set out with the intention of finishing. I might have to pass out mid-gait, but there was no way I was going to stop moving forward until I heard, “Walk now.”

There were a couple of other people at the track and I probably looked like a retard walking around with my fists thrust toward the heavens, dripping sweat from every part of me, but I didn’t care. Not only had I run for three minutes, which is longer than I ever had before, but I’d done it twice.

Don’t get me wrong, this sucked, but I’m saying that for the first time with a smile on my face. I was super tired as I slowly made my way around the concourse one last time, but I felt super great. Some of it can definitely be attributed to pride, but I think I’m finally starting to feel the centering/stress-relieving benefits of physical exercise.

The rest of this week is a repeat of this morning — same distances, same intervals, but then every session until the end of the program will push me farther than I’ve ever gone before. They will be distances and lengths of time that are further and longer than I’ve ever gone before. Each session should continue to instill the same sense of pride and accomplishment I felt this morning. I plan to keep trusting in how the program has prepared me for this point and will continue to prepare me for distances and times that have previously seemed impossible. As long as I “Just keep going,” I’m not sweating anything else in front of me … figuratively speaking of course.

Heading back to my truck this morning, I felt like I was walking a little bit taller, and on the way home I just kept saying, “You did it, dude. You really did it.”

I came home, took a shower, drank some water and slept like a baby, which is why this entry is a bit later than most of the ones after a morning run. It’s even later than I planned for it to be because by not getting it done early in the day before the rest of the world needed to occupy me and my time, just sitting down at the computer and having five minutes to write became a challenge. It’s much easier to get my work done when everyone else is still asleep.

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