Today I ran new miles for the first time in about eight months. The farthest I had ever run before was 13.1 miles, but today I ran fifteen miles. The last 1.9 miles were new — 1.9 miles closer to marathon distance.
I had forgotten how much new miles hurt. I don’t know if it’s a purely physical hurt that comes from my body being asked to do something it has never ever done before, or if it is a mental hurt, a psych-out, that comes from wondering if I can do this something I have never ever done before and being afraid of what happens on the edge between experience and the unknown.
What happened today was not super fun. My perpetually tight hamstrings were complaining again and they were joined by my glutes, my calves, and even my normally cooperative quads. It was a festival of pain and everyone was invited!
When going through something like that, I sometimes experience a brief moment when I ask myself, “why?” Why am I doing this unnecessarily painful thing? Why would I, on purpose, subject myself to it? Why keep going when it hurts? But the moment passes.
I made it to mile fifteen, though, by god. And when I got home I stretched out, used the foam roller, sat in the ice bath for twelve freezing-cold minutes, had a smoothie spiked with disgusting protein powder, cleaned up, got dressed, and started feeling more human again. Those miles hurt, but I did them; they are in the bank; I move on with my day now.
Every time you go out and run new miles or otherwise do something you have never ever done before, you prove to yourself that you can. You go beyond what the limit used to be and carve out new territory, drawing a new line further out (and, quite literally, farther out) than ever before. You take two more miles of road in your town and write your name on them. There is more that belongs to you, and even more still that is now within sight. You understand in new ways what “painful” feels like, what “exhausted” feels like, and what “powerful” feels like.
Right now, however, when I have to stand up out of my desk chair in a few minutes, I think I am about to understand a new dimension what sore feels like. Maybe I could just, oh, I don’t know, stay here for a while? Could someone go feed my dog for me? Maybe you there?