I did Ashtanga yoga yesterday morning at Globe House, a converted warehouse just off of Bermondsey Street. I had been to this class once before, about a year ago, and remembered the space being very open and peaceful, with huge windows and high ceilings. I was running late and had to squeeze into a tiny space in the back corner, but with the sunlight streaming in and no thumping music in the background, it was still a nice break from my gym’s box-like basement studios.

The teacher instructed us to inhale to the mantra, “I am here now” and exhale to “I let go of resistance.” Not particularly original, but these words really resonated with me, given my frequent struggle to focus on the moment. Being the type A personality that I am, I can’t help but constantly think about the future and, to a lesser extent, reflect upon the past.

In the context of my running, “I am here now, I let go of resistance” is especially relevant because the Fleet half marathon is only one week from today! I have been working towards a time that I want to achieve, while also obsessing about my best time (or more specifically, how I can beat it). Of course it’s great to motivate yourself with a goal and improve by learning from previous experiences. However, it’s often easy to lose sight of how you feel today – mentally and physically – when you’re caught up in what you accomplished (or failed to accomplish) and what you seek to achieve. That awareness – that letting go of  resistance to being fully present – is crucial.

Maybe you’re ignoring early signs of an injury because you don’t want to miss a run or race; perhaps you’re eating when you’re not hungry, not paying attention to the driving forces behind your mindless snacking; or maybe you decline invitations to various social activities, because they might interfere with your training (obviously you need to train hard to perform well, but balance is key to avoid burnout). I have certainly been in these situations many times, because I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted at that moment AND in the future.

I’ve been slightly better about that recently. For instance, this week was a relatively light training week – in part because I started to taper, but mainly because I skipped my last hard session (intervals) due to some slight soreness in my right shin and knee. I was tempted to do the run anyway, but figured that so close to the race, it was better to err on the side of caution. (I was also tired and felt like sleeping in…)

Normally, missing a run would stress me out slightly, but surprisingly I didn’t really care. The fact is, I peaked too early in this training cycle (which I now realize was a bit too long) and have been losing steam when I really should be revving up for my event. At this stage, I just want to get the race over with so I can focus on other things (like the exciting trips that I’m currently planning)…not exactly the ideal attitude to have leading up to a half marathon!

Regardless, skipping my interval session was a smart move. After waking up in a grumpy mood and begrudgingly putting on my running shoes this morning, I headed to the river for my last “long” pre-race run. Within ten minutes, the negativity and other junk of the week melted away. I am here now. I am running. I am strong. I feel invigorated. I am fast. I’ve let go of resistance.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of running. Despite everything, it almost always leaves me feeling awesome.

I ended up running for 65 minutes (7.7M/8:28 avg pace), aiming to do the last 1.7 miles at my goal race pace of 7:24min/mile. I only managed to do 1M @ 7:33 and 0.7M @ 7:24, and even that was quite challenging, but overall it was a great run. I felt strong, and the soreness in my legs had faded.

Training is a process, and it often doesn’t go as planned. This is where I’m at, and I’ve made peace with it. And so I have adjusted my goal from sub-1:37 to sub-1:39 (or simply trying to get closer to my PB of 1:37:34 than my second fastest time of 1:39:47). I hear it’s a fast course – hopefully the weather will be in my favor as well! At least I have an 8 in my number which I believe is a positive sign (I have had at least one 8 on the bibs of my best races).

But I will see how I feel on race day – as I warm-up, as I cross the start line, as I tick off the miles and as I approach the finish. Because you can have as many goals and plans as you like, but you never really know how a race will turn out – you can only assess the moment when you’re in it, and then simply go for it.

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