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I don’t usually talk about myself in third person, but it’s relevant. I can only run two miles. 

strava running mileage

SHIT. 

Excuse my language, I’m blogging from a slight runner’s high. I have a lot of emotions (and sweat).
It’s hard to keep running in perspective.
When I run, I think to myself:

  • Where you used to be is not going to happen over night
  • You’re probably dehydrated
  • You’re probably sleep-deprived
  • It’s not going to happen over night
  • You’re running, and that’s a start
  • You have to start somewhere
  • You used to NEVER run, so that’s something too
  • It’s hot in Texas
  • Maybe you need to commit to a half-marathon
  • …Maybe not
  • You have to start somewhere
  • Keep running

And at some point, the thoughts take over and you want to start walking. So I guess for once, I feel unresolved after a run…
The real thought is: Who wants to sign up for a half? I will also be taking more suggestions for running music. If you’re interested in knowing what I’ve been listening to, check out my Spotify Playlist.

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I’m a running fraud.

…because I haven’t run in a week…maybe two.
…because I need new running shoes.
…because I don’t feel hydrated and I might cramp.
…because I don’t have the time anymore.
…because I’m lazy.

Here I am…being honest and vulnerable. I’m also trying to shame myself into running, is that a bad habit? Running, exercise, and healthy living is a stupid mental game- and sometimes my mind lets the fears win, and any sort of “excuse” passes for a plausible excuse. BUT.

I have working legs, I have a body, I breathe in and out- I am capable. 

There are a lot of things I take into consideration when I go running, because I am prone to injury but I know when I’m bullshitting. And I’ve been doing it a lot lately. Mental games and focus- I know these are things I really push on my blog, but it’s because that’s really it. It’s not easy, but mental games are what puts up walls, makes excuses, and keeps me in the house. So I have to play mental games to break down those walls and push me out of the house.

No more self. Get out.

And run.

ProTip: Keep your running mind positive. A negative mind WILL slow you down/tire you out, physically.

focus

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about running, and it’s definitely because it’s been awhile since I did a proper run.

I went from running 4 times/week to maybe 1 time…if I’m lucky. I don’t know who is actually lucky in the scenario of running 1 time/week, I think the it’s a losing situation. It’s just so freaking hard! You guys, how did I run that half-marathon?

Easy, 1) I was signed up and it was non-refundable and 2) I was on Team Wilson and 3) Look at #1.

Personally, I’ve come to realize how hard it is to work at something, especially exercise-related, when you don’t have something to work for. Does that sound sad? Because I know when I run trails at Town Lake or in my parent’s neighborhood, there are people who run for reasons that are not race-related. There’s that health aspect blah blah blah it’s good to exercise, and there’s that habit thing that I used to have- something happened, and the thought of moving my legs make me irk.

My motivation is lost, I have “nothing” to work toward, but again- running is hugely mental. Right now, my mentality is in this state of defeat even before I walk out the door. So, what can I do to bring this motivation back without signing up for another race? Because I don’t want to have that association where I fall flat without doing a race, you know? I’m in this search, and for now I’m making a new playlist.

I think another thing (aside from the weather conditions) that has made running so hard is the expectation that I have for myself. Lately when I go on a run, I already tell myself, “What’s wrong with you? You can’t even break 3 miles? How did you run 13?” I think it really messes with my mentality to keep going. Aware of this, I try to combat it with positive thoughts like, “It’s fine. Slow. You have to build yourself back up and you didn’t go from 1 to 5 miles, overnight. You’re doing okay. Keep going.”

Left foot, right foot. Breathe.

focus

Today I’m not talking about running per se, but a byproduct of it: focus. In this age of being constantly plugged in, I find it incredibly easy to get distracted. From school to social life to media- there is such a multitude of outlets that are available to us, sometimes I find it hard to grasp the limiting outlets that people once had (or did not have).

There is a saying that I see floating in the running realm about how running teaches you a lot about yourself. I believe this to be true. Going hand-in-hand with the concept of focus, when I go run, it’s about me… and me. I decide my pace, my music…I decide when to trick myself into running further than I want, and I decide when I have to stop. Running, like most things, is largely mental, but I fail to say that I have focus in other things aside from running.

And focus is not an easy concept I gained by any means, I used to run and only think about everything else aside from running. This habit failed me as the distractions took away from reserving the energy I needed to keep going. After a while (after a long while for me), I started to zero in on what was in front of me, instead of shooting my energy into everything outside of it.

Funny anecdote that relates to focus: I started running again, and it’s hard. My favorite part about Texas winter was running because it’s cold, but not unbearable (some days are unbearable, but I thrive in those 40 to 45 degree temps). So on that note, I am not used to, nor do I thrive in the 65 to 70 degree temps- I actually feel like I’m dying. When I don’t have access to water? You might find me dry heaving on Town Lake from exhaustion.

ANYWAY, when I went running, it was me, myself and I. No dilly dallying thoughts, I have to focus…on making it to the other side. Literally. When you run Town Lake, there are no short cuts, you have to keep going until you come back to Point A. It’s miserable, but it keeps me accountable for mileage. While I wish that I could tell people the dreams and ideas I get on my runs, I actually only think about where the next water station might be or how much further I have or praying that I don’t get a cramp when I’m halfway on East side.1

Focus. Clear the mechanism. See how far you can go.

1. Was that funny? It’s not? Whoops, watch this. My apologies, I’m working on it.

“Consider to hope against all odds, dream in response to fear, and survive in the face of adversity.”
-R. Wilson

This quote resonated with me today, and like the 24 hours before Feb 16, the 24 hours after Feb 16 – my mind is still racing at a million miles an hour. It’s over. The Austin Half Marathon is over. I finished (with a good time), and what do I do with myself now?

Cliché alert: while the actual race day has ended, I feel like I just started something. Never did I EVER ever ever ever think that me, Thu Nguyen, would take two steps outside, let alone run 13.1 miles up and down hilly Austin, Texas. While my hip is doing some weird popping thing, my legs feel broken, and my toes feel smashed- what an inexplainable feeling.

What’s next? I don’t know, but I know I’m not stopping here.

If you would like a bit of comical relief (or something), this is how my Race Day went:
Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety.
*Clear the mechanism.*
Start – “Go…slow, slow, slow, pace, pace, pace, oooh Gatorade, hydrate. I can just throw these cups on the ground? Okay.”
South Congress – “Oh look, there’s St. Edward’s. I just ran to St. Edward’s…and I have to keep going.”
Ben White – “There’s a dude wearing a sign that says ‘I’m Drunk.’ Ha! Keep going.”
South 1st – This stretch felt like eternity. I kept running and running and running and I was thinking to myself, “Where the hell is that bridge? What mile am I even on? ONLY 8!?”
Somewhere between Mile 8 & Mile 9 – A person was holding a poster with a giant Coach Taylor face that said “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Run Fast.” I clearly shouted “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” as I ran past that glorious sign. Keep going.
Split from 26.2 runners – “I know exactly what is about to come, but do I really?” Nope. Naive Thu did not know what was in for the next 2-3 miles…
Einfield Hill – “Shit. Shit. Shit. And there’s running to do on the other side of that hill, shit.”
AND THERE’S A LITTLE MORE?
Last 500m – *Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine comes on* Perfect timing but also thinking, “Why does this feel like the longest 500 meters of my life?”

Ok, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m…F I N I S H. Done. Fin. What just happened?

If you got all the way down here: thanks for sticking around, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Time flies. I blink and I can’t believe that it has been a year since I picked up running as a habit. It’s not unusual that I get asked how I started starting and I give the same answer that I give when I first blogged about running: the book,  The Power of Habit (…and emotions).

The Austin Marathon & Half Marathon is in about 17 days and now I feel like running has become a chore. I wake up every other day when I’m not doing stretches/squats/recovering with the mindset that I have to run X miles (in Y min/mi). Each time increasing my distance a little bit, so I don’t end up totally left behind as my brother blazes ahead.

For training and interest purposes, I started using Strava, an app that generally is used by cyclists but runners as well. It tracks your pace, your distance, your route, etc. Last night, I looked up when I first started running (or when I first started recording). By sheer coincidence, the first day I recorded my running was the same day I last ran a year later. Look below:

delta

And, excuse my profanity (it gets me through running)- HOLY SHIT.

Here are my *initial* thoughts:

  1. Wow self, you ran slow.
  2. Wow self, you ran barely 3 miles.

Here are the thoughts I should have reminded myself:

  1. Wow self, what a difference a year makes.
  2. You never thought you would run, ever.
  3. But now you’re running a half marathon in 2-ish weeks.
  4. And you’ve got a pretty good pace.
  5. But it’s totally not about the pace, you’re aiming to finish.
  6. Keep going.
  7. Don’t hurt yourself.

What are the chances that I run the same day in the span of a year (actuaries or statisticians?). It’s difficult to remind myself that I’ve come a long way. And I think that has extended to everything I do. I constantly have to…need to remind myself that I started at Point A, everyone starts at Point A and with time, practice, and trying- I’m/we are going to get to Point B.

Treasure the journey and don’t forget the middle part. It’s easy to forget.
17 days.

I got suckered into it. Maybe it was exhaustion. Maybe it was because Tommy played the “brother” card. Or maybe it was the adrenaline/craziness I felt from drinking coffee at 9PM (never again if it’s not Finals Week).

So I’m blaming both Tommy and Hannah for this non-refundable decision I made Saturday morning. Thank you for ruining my life (I’m just kidding, I think).

I’m simultaneously excited, nervous, and scared.
Excited because I have never done anything like this, ever. Getting to do my first event with my brother (in Austin) is the cherry on top of the very tall sundae I just ordered for myself.
Nervous because although it is in February, I will constantly be thinking, “Do I have enough time?” or “Have I prepared enough?” What is enough?
Scared because again, this is my first event and I’ve never really been known to be athletic (until late). What if I barf? What if I have to pee? What if I don’t make it? What if this dumb runner’s knee doesn’t heal (but that will be my fault if I don’t stretch and blah blah blah…I never knew the many things that went into running…aside from running)?

All in all, here’s something I made and set as my phone background:

13.1

Hope to see you at the finish line. OR BETTER YET, running alongside me!