Surviving the Sweaty Six

running, health, fitness, humor, self-improvement, Modern PhilosopherI love the sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something I didn’t think I could, Modern Philosophers.

Improving my self-confidence is high on my To Do List, and there’s no better way to achieve that goal than by kicking ass at something new.

When I was in the shower yesterday, I had the brilliant idea that I should try to run six miles this morning.  Let that be a lesson to you…taking a shower can be incredibly dangerous if you let your Deep Thoughts run wild.

I’ve never tackled the Sweaty Six before this morning.

Sure, I’ve done six miles at the gym, but that isn’t the same.   The treadmill is a totally controlled environment.  I can stop any time, and not have to worry about how I’m going to get home if I’m three miles away and simply run out of energy.  There’s air conditioning to keep me from overheating, and my water bottle is just an arm length’s away.  And when I need a distraction from the tedium of the road, I can stare at the perfectly toned buns of the women working out on the machines in front of me.

Running six miles out on the road is a completely different challenge.

Without a doubt, I was excited to see if I could do it.  Running has this strange effect on me.  It’s like the way I’m drawn to women who I know are bad for me.  I try to fight the attraction, but before I know it, I’m hopelessly in love.

My stomach was still gurgling a bit this morning, but there was no way I was going to back away from this challenge after I’d gotten myself so pumped for it.

So stomach bug be damned!

Aside from not knowing if I had the stamina to survive the Sweaty Six, there was the little problem of my running route not being long enough to accommodate the distance.

My current route can be stretched to a little over five miles with some creativity.  It runs along a busy stretch of road, but the shoulder is very wide, so it’s safe for running.  I turn around at the point where the shoulder gets perilously thin, the speed limit increases, and there are curves that prevent oncoming vehicles from having a clear view of me.

running, health, fitness, humor, self-improvement, Modern PhilosopherSo not only was surviving the Sweaty Six a running challenge, but it was also a mathematical one.  And this math nerd was all over it.

In fact, going all Good Will Hunting and trying to calculate how to find six miles of open road became the distraction I needed to keep my mind occupied.

Because as I have long known, if I don’t keep my brain busy during a run, all it will focus on is how much I hate running, how much pain I am in, and how no one would probably care if I just curled up in the fetal position and cried on the next front lawn I passed.

Like any new adventure, I approached my quest to conquer the Sweaty Six with caution.  On my previous runs, I knew I could set out at any pace because I was certain I had enough in the tank to get me back to The House on the Hill.

Today, I throttled down, eased my foot off the pedal, and slipped into the slow lane while my body got a feel for how long six miles really was.  The stupid thing would be to sprint out of the gate too quickly and be running on fumes by mile five.

This was all about surviving the distance, proving that I could go six miles, and not failing at the challenge I’d set for myself.

This run was about proving it could be done.  There will be another day, in the not so distant future, when it will become about how fast it can be done.

And so I ran.  At each mile, the voice from the Map My Run app interrupted complex mathematical calculations to let me know I was one mile closer to achieving my goal.

running, health, fitness, humor, self-improvement, Modern PhilosopherThe voice also told me my split times.  I was not going to win any Olympic medals with my pace, but I was going to make it home with a sense of accomplishment.

At every new mile, I did a quick systems check.  My stomach was behaving.  My bladder was still empty.  My lungs, heart, and legs were in working order.

I knew at about the two mile mark that I had this one in the bag.  It was a cool morning, so I wasn’t going to pass out from the heat.

My heart rate was in the target zone.  My legs felt like they had an extra spring in them, even though I was refusing to let them go as fast as they wanted.  I was singing along to Pandora, which meant my breathing was fine and the neighborhood was being properly entertained.

Once the mystery woman inside my app told me I had reached the five mile mark, I finally let slip the dogs of war (shout out to Shakespeare!) and found that extra gear.  You see, I knew I had survived because running one mile is like a walk in the park for me now.

So I hit the afterburners, and ran like I was being chased by my machete wielding ex-wife.

Just a little running tip from someone who knows: Know what your reward is going to be for achieving your goal.

I was able to zip through that last mile because I knew that when I got home, a giant breakfast awaited.  I had fresh eggs courtesy of my friend Julie’s chickens, and the plan was to scramble a few with ham, cheese, and mushrooms.

After that, I was going to collapse onto the couch and watch the Yankees game.

Pure bliss.  Well worth the six mile price of admission.

When I made it back to The House on the Hill, I did not collapse in the middle of the driveway and kiss the blacktop like I never wanted to leave it again.  Instead, I took several selfies to commemorate my achievement.  There was a big smile on my face in all of them.

running, health, fitness, humor, self-improvement, Modern PhilosopherThat’s the smile of a man who survived the Sweaty Six.  According to the app, I ran mile six a minute faster than any of the previous five.

That means I had more than enough in the tank to go six.  Which begs the question:

Why the hell haven’t I tried to run that distance before today?

Five miles has always been a magic number for me.  Being able to complete that distance has meant that I’ve gotten myself into good shape, but why did I always settle?  How come I never pushed for six?

Perhaps this sums up one of the biggest problems in my life.  I just get to a certain point, become complacent, and lose my ambition to go any further.

That’s going to change, Modern Philosophers.  It’s time to finally discover what’s waiting for me at the next level.

I survived the Sweaty Six, so now I know that the glass ceiling that’s held me back was apparently installed by me for reasons I might never understand.

You know what happens when you set a new running goal and totally kick ass?

running, health, fitness, humor, self-improvement, Modern PhilosopherYou earn the right to wear your Flash tee shirt.

So what’s the message of all this, other than that I am an out of control running machine?

Just go for it.  Pick something that has always seemed to be out of your reach and see if you can do it.  If you fail, what’s the big deal?  You didn’t think you could do it anyway.

And if you surprise yourself and get it done, pick another goal and try to conquer that.

What’s your Sweaty Six?  When do you intend to go out and get it done?

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About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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16 Responses to Surviving the Sweaty Six

  1. Six miles is my sweet spot, where I feel like I’ve earned the right to be lazy. Any further, like 13 or god forbid ever again 15, and I spend days afterwards wishing for death.

  2. Do not be discouraged! Maybe the Filthy Fifteen is your sweet spot. You never know until you look!

  3. jsackmom says:

    Way to go Austin on your sweaty six accomplishment! You’ve inspired me to swim another lap instead of 5! It’s amazing how easily we can get complacent in life. I’m proud you pushed yourself that extra mile. 😃

  4. Congratulations! It’s more about the mind than (in my case) the knees. But there’s nothing so sweet as getting further than you thought was possible. .I’m bringing your positive vibes into the start of my week. Who knows where they might take me?

    • Austin says:

      I’m glad you found some inspiration from my perspiration! I followed up yesterday’s run with 5 miles this morning. It’s so nice to be relaxing and done with running until Tuesday. 🙂

  5. The Guat says:

    I love this! Susie Lindau tweeted out your story and I’m a buddy so I had to stop by. I’ve seen you around I the community and at Susie’s so I thought I’d check out this tweet-worthy post. I can completely relate to running and not liking it if I think too much of my knees and the pain, but it is an amazing Hugh-five feeling when you do something you didn’t think you could, or you had that doubt. The Joy of Running philosophy rocks. Congrats on earning the right to wear your Flash shirt. Well done!

  6. Pingback: I’m Too Six-y For My Run | The Return of the Modern Philosopher

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