Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quitter. (Adventures in workouts.)

Back to the regularly scheduled programming.  Thanks for indulging me in talking about the Newtown tragedy.  I know I'm no Anderson Cooper (who is the new love of my life due to his late twitter exchange), but sometimes it's really nice to be able to talk about other things on this blog.  So yeah, you rock.

No one likes a quitter.  Especially me.  Especially when I'm the quitter.  That really sucks.

Like this morning, for example:

Because I'm trying to get into good half marathon shape, I've been trying to do some long intervals and tempos.  They've occurred mostly on the treadmill because I am lazy and don't like being bothered with setting my own pace.  That, and I think I can push myself harder there than on a road by myself.

So a 5 miler at 7:08 was scheduled this morning.  Except I figured I'd go at 7:12 because I'm still easing back into this "speed thing".

I was a little nervous about this run because I've been quitting tempos halfway through since this summer.  And everyone knows that once you start quitting things, it's hard to stop.  This would be a challenge given my current speed ability.

I ate some mango chunks and told myself "you won't quit this workout, you'll stick it through".  "Yes, I got this."  I stepped out the door to warm up into the 40 degree LA weather which if you didn't know, feels like -20 degrees to us.   I got back and stepped on the treadmill.  "You won't quit this time", I told myself.

I put the treadmill at 1.0% incline and 8.3 mph.  The first mile was easy.  I blasted some old techno song.  Crystal Castles I think.  Around two miles in, doubt started creeping into my mind again.  "How the hell am I going to run for three more miles?".

"I really feel tired".  "If I feel this tired now, how will I feel 15 minutes from now?"

And then that same stupid voice started coming into my head.  Like one of those cartoon devil versus angel over my shoulder.  "Just hit the stop button".  "You're tired".

And damnit, 2.75 miles into this stupid tempo run, I looked down at the stop button...tried to stop myself for a minute...but then as I have many times lately, I hit it.  The treadmill slowed down and within a couple seconds I was instantly pissed at myself.  How the hell am I going to improve if I just keep quitting these workouts?  This keeps happening.  

Then the cartoon angel (ok, more like a cartoon personal trainer) came back into the picture.  "Come on, Margot.  The least you can do is try to finish the tempo".

I decided to get right back on the treadmill and go another two miles (cutting off one quarter).  I cranked the inclined down to 0% which I guess is cheating but whatever, I need all the help I can get.

Somehow, the tempo didn't seem to mentally hard when I could think of it as two miles left without already having mileage down.  That, and the 60 second break helped.

I finished the two miles at 7:12 and got off the treadmill, still annoyed with myself.  And very sweaty.  But at least kind of happy that I tried to finish the workout.

There is no inspirational end to this blog post, because it hasn't happened yet.  How do you stick it out?  I've thought of some ideas...

1) Allow myself to take a 60 second breather during one more tempo, then cut it down to 45 seconds, then 30, and then it's so small I must be able to just keep going right?

2) Adjust the treadmill speed up and down every half mile to avoid boredom and get a sense of achievement every 3-4 minutes.

3) Get someone in there to workout with me.  I don't know about you, but I workout way better when there is someone there with me.  Essentially, I don't want them to think I'm a total loser and that is motivational enough.

4) Chop stop button off and build cage around treadmill so it is impossible to escape.

How do you get yourself to complete workouts?  Have you ever had the same dumb issue as me where you just stop because you don't feel like running any more? And it's easy to do because you're in a pattern of quitting?

I gotta find a way out of this pattern.  Or in the words of Daniel Bedingfield, I gotta get through this. 

 (Dance Party Time)


  1. Just had to comment to say - I LOVE THAT SONG! But now it is going to be in my head all day long. Dammit.

  2. Instead of starting with a five mile tempo why don't you build up to it? Add like half a mile each time maybe? You are already at almost three. You seem to at least have a mostly mental barrier. Or try starting out a little slower and then try to finish faster than 7:12. I wish you lived in NYC!!! You would be at a good pace to push me :)

  3. I think having someone there with you would definitely be a good idea or maybe try doing your tempo's outside. I find it harder to stop when I'm outside because at a minimum I have to get back home and I might as well do that as fast as possible

  4. I do have this issue myself. I use my phone for my music and I also get emails to it (including work emails) so whenever the music dims or cuts out for a second I have to interrupt my current "thought process" in order to decide whether to check it or not. Most of the time if it's not a work email or I haven't gone a certain distance that I think I am due a break I will ignore it. But when I do check it I don't stop....I just slow my speed enough that I can check it only to pick it back up afterwards. So, I just end up with a small break of 20-60 seconds depending on what the message was.

  5. I am totally guilty of this as well. Especially when I'm in between training. But I do have a theory, that its okay to run with the treadmill at 0% incline because the treadmill is so freaking boring its actually harder to run on than outside, at least mentally, so the 0% evens it out. Not so scientific, but it justifies my laziness. And then I feel like I have to run because I know I'm already cheating, and I figure getting the workout done is better than no workout at all.

  6. I'd recommend running just because you love it...unless you don't. As you feel the love of it more, you will WANT to push yourself into those harder places. Maybe it would help to not lock it in as such a hard and fast number and give yourself a range? I find that when I've set up a range (the slow end that I am really pretty sure I can hit though it's way slower than I'd like it to be), I usually surprise myself with the average pace for the piece being right where I want it to be...or even a little faster. Celia's progression suggestion is also a good one. You'll get there.

  7. mentioned several times that you were really tired. Have you figured out why? Maybe start at the root and then the running will just come easier? I know when I am tired in any way it makes it waaaay harder for me to push through working out, or pretty much anything. Maybe your body is trying to tell you something :). take care of yourself xoxox

  8. I usually start my tempos about 15 seconds slower then I'm supposed to. I'll do this for the first half mile to full mile, and then end up making up the difference in the final mile. gives your heart a chance to realize, oh wow, we're doing this huh? before you really crank it up. it's probably a mental thing in my case, but maybe it would work for you too!

  9. I do this all the time too. I'm outside, I'm running a tempo, I'm half way up a hill, and BOOM! I'm not moving. WHAAAT??!!! Its definitely a mental thing. Sometimes I try to fool myself by saying "once you get to that tree you can stop" and then keep going the tree and give myself a woop woop for keeping going. It doesn't always work though. Maybe slow down the pace for a minute if you feel like quiting and then pick it up again? It's better than stopping...

  10. It is so true that once you quit the first time, you know you can, and it opens the floodgates...this happened to me for this first time this year. in my 12 or something years of running, I don't think I ever stopped to walk while running unless something was hurting, like an injury scare. Then I did it one day this year. And now it's kind of normal. If I'm not having a good run, I'll stop and walk. Just for a minute.

    I feel you. Days when I quit, I just chalk it up to not feeling great. Because there SHOULD be days every now and then where that tempo run feels great and strong. If not, start a little bit slower, 7:18 pace, and see if you can finish your last mile at 7:12.

    Last, if I'm running on the treadmill for an hour, I almost always need at least one or two 20 second breaks, to drink water and stretch. cheating I guess, but I don't care.

  11. Stopping workouts has been my bugaboo for years. I am really, really trying to kick it to the curb. Here's my mental plan:
    1. I accept that bad workouts happen, and resigning myself to a bad workout is ultimately better than quitting a workout because it is not going as I wish it would.
    2. I fear the wrath of my regret.
    3. I refuse to go less than three miles. Even if I am dying, I go more than three.
    4. If I do stop, I wallow for a moment and then, dammit, make myself start running again. The benefits of the workout don't disappear because I stopped.
    5. I think about people I hate who run faster than me.

    That said, I've been doing tempos on the treadmill find them just dreadful. I finish them, but don't feel like I can push myself as hard as I can when I am on the road.

  12. I really like messing with the pace A LOT. Like every minute, keeps me busy. Depending on my work out I'll build up to a certain pace, stick with it for a few minutes, then go down. Or I'll do intervals, or mess with the incline.

  13. I've been through the same thing and then I read Born to Run and it changed my life. I'm talking about the section that says something like these ultrarunners don't train to avoid feeling tired, they train because they love to run and they learn how to embrace the beast. The beast of feeling tired, sore, exhausted. And now when I hit those feelings on my run, I smile and go EMBRACE the BEAST to myself. And that embracing how I feel at that moment will only help me when I hit that point in my race. It's just been a huge breakthrough for me mentally.

  14. I personally like #4- I have thought about that myself when I feel like stopping or I make up excuses for not wanting to run.

  15. I wasn't going to comment because a) I'm late and b) you've already gotten the advice I would give (scale back the length of your tempo, and/or break it up with rest intervals, and/or constantly play with the pace, even it's just ratcheting it up or down by a few seconds every 30 sec to 1 minute).

    To me the two important things are that you may quit workouts but you aren't Quitting Altogether, and that you are keeping it real (both for yourself and the rest of us). So many runners refuse to admit to ever having problems like this, but I don't believe them. You'll get through it and come out stronger. Coming back from a bad place (rut or injury) is the best teacher.