Trusting the Internal Ding

I finished the Couch to 5K program about six weeks ago, while I was at Preacher Camp. I don’t mind telling you that once I reached that milestone, I floundered for a while. I also got sick, which threw me off my game that week and next.

It’s been slow to get back into it.

People suggested, “Sign up for a 5K, that’ll motivate you!” For some reason that didn’t hold much interest. (Maybe it was the infernal heat we were having at the time. Find me a 5K that runs in an air conditioned arena on treadmills and I’m SO there.)

Besides, I already have a goal, and it’s this:

Mt. Washington. New Hampshire. July 2011. 3800-foot elevation change during the hike.

One of the things I loved about C25K was that it told me exactly what to do each day. I’m pretty clueless about running, so it was nice to have an expert right there in my iPhone, ordering me around.

DING! “Run.”

DING! “Walk.”

DING! “Cool down.”

Once you’ve graduated C25K, the app says, “Now you can go on a 30 minute run whenever you want!” Which is fine, except I never want. So, the last few weeks I’ve been running some of my favorite days in the program: Week 6 Day 2, Week 7 Day 1. At least I’m doing something, I reasoned, but it felt like a copout. These are all much easier than a 30 minute run.

Today I ran Week 6 Day 1, which is “run 5, walk 3, run 8, walk 3, run 5.” And I realized: Of course! I can work on increasing my speed! I achieved the 30 minute goal; now I can work on other goals that I set for myself.

It’s one of my classic “aha/duh” moments, but it also marks a milestone—I feel comfortable enough with my skill level that I don’t need a program to tell me what to do. I can trust my internal sense of what I need and want to do.

I’ve always liked the four levels of competency:

incompetent and unaware: you don’t know what you don’t know
incompetent and aware: the most anxious stage, because you know what you don’t know
competent and aware: the most fun stage, when you’re performing well and you know it
competent and unaware: the level of the sage; the skills becomes second nature; you’re out of your own way

I can’t even imagine stage 4 as it relates to running, but I’ve gotten there in other areas of my life. It’s a beautiful stage. A deep and wide place.

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