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Embracing the unknown, and coming out on the other side

Going into the workout I had apprehensions

Track Workout
Track Workout
Photo: Matt Stetson.

Last Wednesday marked my first track workout in more than a year-and-a-half, and did it ever feel good. Among the many takeaways, it most notably served as reminder of the positives that come from taking ourselves outside our comfort zones, and embracing the unknown.

The combination of injuries, illness, and not having teammates to workout with left the track from the forefront of my mind since making the move down to Omaha, Neb. I’m fortunate now to be training with a team here (more on that in a future post) and I’m already reaping the benefits.

Wednesday’s workout was 12x800m with three minutes recovery between intervals. The physical benefits of such a workout almost go without saying. It was a push, but it felt great to be hitting some faster paces. Just as important, however, were the mental gains this workout provided.

Going into the workout I had apprehensions. It had been a long time since I had done that sort of concerted, controlled effort and didn’t know how my body was going to respond. This unknown was difficult to live with leading into the workout, but like anything that offers the opportunity for growth, there must always come a willingness to put ourselves out there not knowing what the outcome will be. It’s very similar to racing. We put in the training, but ultimately we don’t control the outcome. There are many variables on any given day that can thwart the goals we had in mind; the weather can go sideways, the course can be tougher than expected, your body may be off, etc. But in that willingness to leave our comfort zones, we open ourselves to experience something greater than we had previously known.

And this is exactly what I experienced on the track on Wednesday. As soon as I took off the elation of running in that more structured, unforgiving format took over, and suddenly my fears of the unknown were washed away by the thrill of the challenge. As I got deeper into the workout I thought about the satisfaction that laid in the moments of pushing myself out my comfort zone. Over the winter any limited speed work I had done had been in the form of fartleks, and as such, had become what I was comfortable. But now, with my body feeling healthy and with plans to race late spring, I knew it was time to start incorporating some more intentional speed work into my training. Wednesday gave me a starting point, in which I can know gauge where I’m at as I start a new training block.

However, beyond serving as a practicality that first dip into speed work mentally propelled me into this next phase of training. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into the intense workouts, and embracing the unknowns that come along way. After all, it seems to me, the mysteries of this running journey are part of what make it irresistible.