Asking the Right Question

If you don’t ask the question, the answer will always be no. – Kristin Armstrong

Meditations in Motion

My hubby Bill and I were going to the rec center yesterday to begin our normal Thursday morning run. Bill requested that we keep it short since my cold from last week is now firmly planted in his chest. I agreed; yesterday was a Meals on Wheels delivery day and our time was limited.

As we pulled into a parking space, Bill’s phone rang. It was a deliveryman telling us the patio furniture we ordered would be delivered to our house in half an hour. “There goes our run,” I said. Someone had to be home to accept delivery.

Bill offered to drop me off while he went home to receive the furniture. “You’re sure you don’t mind?” I questioned. He assured me that missing a day of running, especially with his chest cold, would not be a hardship.

I hopped out of the car and went into the rec center, while he went home to meet the deliveryman.

As I hung up my coat in a locker, I considered which route to run. I knew I had to keep it short. I tried to think of a route I liked, and then it hit me – I’ll do a track workout.

Meditations in Motion

Bill and I love to run together, but Bill is not a fan of speed workouts. I, on the other hand, love to push myself on the track. Call it latent masochism. I run marathons but I am not really a good marathon runner. Speed, rather than endurance, is more my style.

It has been a year since my last track workout due to the hamstring injury that wouldn’t heal. Even when I was running intervals last year, they were a half-hearted affair. My hip and leg hurt, my stride was off, and I was constantly frustrated. Could I return to speed work at my age (speed being a relative term)?

I decided to give it a try. There was enough time for me to do a warmup, two one-mile intervals on the track, then a cooldown.

Meditations in Motion

As I jogged my warmup mile, I considered what speed to aim for in my one-mile interval runs. I decided on a modest goal of a nine-minute mile. I am still coming back from an injury, I have not done any recent track work, and all of my recent miles have been easy miles.

As I stepped onto the track, I was, for some reason, nervous. “This is silly,” I admonished myself. “There is no penalty if I can’t do nine minutes per mile. No one is here but me. I will just slow down if I feel any pain or start to struggle.

With my little pep talk to myself completed, I started running, pushed the button on my watch, and said a little prayer.

After what seemed like a slow start, I fell into the rhythm of running at a speedier pace. As I completed my first lap, it felt good to step on the gas a little bit. I usually glance at my watch after the first lap to be sure I am close to my goal time but yesterday I didn’t glance; I didn’t want the pressure of thinking I had to catch up if my pace was too slow.

The third lap is usually the toughest for me, but I completed my third lap without feeling stressed. As I rounded the final turn of my fourth lap, I momentarily thought to speed up for the final 100 meters but resisted the urge. After maintaining a constant pace for the final steps, I crossed the finish and stopped my watch.

Meditations in Motion

Yes, I had done the mile in eight minutes and five seconds. I was pleasantly surprised by the time but worried. I don’t want to jeopardize my recovery by doing something dumb. “Slow down,” I told myself as I walked back to the start for my second interval.

OK, this time I will shoot for nine minutes per mile,” I thought. Again, the mile flew by. I had to check my watch after the third circuit because I actually lost count of the laps. “Was that the second or third lap?” I wondered. I often get lost in my thoughts as I run, even on the track, and forget where I am in the workout. Whenever I am not sure which lap I am on, it’s always the lower number. This time, however, it was indeed the higher number. That never happens. 8:34.

My grin stretched from ear to ear. Running felt so good I hated to quit. Sometimes I get carried away and do too much of a good thing.

I decided to do one last 400-meter lap to attempt an under-two-minutes time. I could always take an abbreviated shower, I reasoned. As I rounded the track one final time, my legs felt great, my stride felt natural, and I finished in 1:55.

Meditations in Motion

As I stood under the shower in the locker room, I thought about my track workout. I was inordinately happy about the speed at which I had traveled around the track nine times. The quote by Kristen Armstrong came to mind and I was glad I had the courage to ask the question “Am I still able to do speedwork?

Then another quote, this one from friend and training partner Neil came to mind: “Train to your weaknesses.

No, I had to admit, I did not train to my weakness. If it comes to a choice between speedwork and a long run to build endurance, I will take the speedwork every time. Speed is my strength, not my weakness. This is not a tale of vindication and redemption; this is a story about perception and strength.

Meditations in Motion

Both quotes are valid, both are true. I had asked the wrong question. Yes, it takes courage to ask the question, but first, we must determine what the proper question is. In my case, the question about my ability to still do intervals is the easy question. A more relevant and difficult question is whether I have the ability to slowly and patiently build endurance.

This question cannot be answered in nine quick trips around the track, it will take months to answer as I add a slightly longer run each week and evaluate how my hamstring is behaving.

Having the courage to ask the question is important, but having the insight to ask the right question is paramount. In the coming months, I will focus on asking the correct question, the tough one, the one that takes patience, strength and nerve to answer.

How about you? What is the right question for you to ask of yourself?

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Jenn @ Runswithpugs, Brandi @ Funnerrunner, Anna Louise @ Graciouswarriorprincess, Briana @ Matsmilesmedals, Meghan @ Meghanonthemove, and Elizabeth @ Trainwithbainfor RIOTS(running is our therapy), Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics, Esme Salon for Senior Salon, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team and Global Blogging, The Ched Curtain for Say Cheese, Purposeful Faith for RaRa, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday, and My Random Musings for Anything Goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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87 comments

  1. Great job! You make me want to do track workouts now! It’s hard finding a track that’s open to the public where I live so it’s been years since I’ve been to a track. I have to do my speedwork on the road or treadmill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our middle school track is open to the public and some members of my running club go to a local college for regular track workouts, but I can understand how it would be difficult to find an open track. I have done speed workouts on a rail trail with mile markers, but I would be scared to do them on the road.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I have been incredibly lucky with being able to do speed workouts. I really need to focus on endurance, though for my marathon this fall. That’s where I really need work. Thank you!

      Like

  2. I ran for years, but found out that it wrecks the knees in the end. Ha ha, I wish I’d taken my mother’s advice and never ran in the first place. I walk now and enjoy country dancing. If I could do it all over again I’d never do impact sports. Take care of your injuries, from one who’s been there…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hm. Strikes me that “training to your weakness” relates as much to writing, or any important endeavor, as much as running. In my case the right question is usually: What can I leave out to make this stronger?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! That would be one of my many weaknesses too. I always go back through my posts before I hit publish and delete about 100 words, but I’m sure there are more I could jettison.

      Like

  4. Awesome times on the track! Honestly, I don’t know if I’m good with speed or distance, they both seem to be a challenge for me! I have been trying to run a lot more hills in my neighborhood for half marathon training since that’s one of my weaknesses, but sometimes it’s nice to get that confidence boost of running on the flats!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Janelle. Way to go with your hill runs. I think a mixture of hills and flat running is probably the best. That way you get a mix of power and speed.

      Like

  5. I was just thinking about this very thing during my weekend run. Marathons are not my strength either. I set out to run ONE as a challenge to myself. I’d take speedwork over LSD any day. You had a great track session! Glad your hamstring liked it as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you on the preference for speedwork, but I really need to begin working on endurance NOW.
      It’s so funny that the woman who is running Tokyo AND London this spring writes that marathons are not her strong suit! 🙂

      Like

  6. Asking the right question is so crucial. Well said.
    I, like your husband, prefer length to speed.
    However, like you, I tend to police myself in the strictest of manners. People say: “But there’s no one to judge/ check/ etc. I don’t care. I am there.
    Good to hear you’re feeling well, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great reminder that we have to ask the right question, not the easy one! It’s always difficult, but you’re right, we have to listen to ourself and be honest. Life isn’t always about taking the easy road. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello friend! I love speedwork. I would pick running fast over long and slow any day. I’m going to back off on distance for a while and focus on shorter runs. Which means…I’m feeling the need for speed!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love how your running lessons spill over into all of life, and I’m going to be thinking about “training to my weakness” today. It’s so tempting to do the stuff we’re good at and that we love and to neglect the areas that need work.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Unfortunately neither speed nor endurance are really my strengths. I think my strength is my consistency & willingness to do the boring stuff that keeps me running.

    That’s fantastic that you enjoyed a good speed workout & your hamstring feels good too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. First of all, great job on the run! Running is not one of my gifts. But I can use your idea with my gifts. And the biggest question in my mind has been “What?” but I think the deeper question is “Why?”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this. I am asking myself a lot of questions right now. And one of them is Do I have the patience to make sure I heal correctly? The thing is my answer needs to be yes. So I’m literally asking a variation of this or talking to myself (not aloud ha!) to slow down, have patience, come back stronger, plenty of other things I can do, etc. It’s so very smart to just take the time and ask the right question.

    happy that you had an amazing workout!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Renee. I think you are exactly right: your answer needs to be yes. Patience is a very difficult thing, especially for us Type A, driven runners. It is smart, though to be patient in your case and heal well so that you can enjoy running for a lot of years to come.

      Like

  13. Well done on your workout and the great times! And thanks for this thought-provoking post. You have got me thinking about what the right question is to ask myself in a particular situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Laurie, what a great post. Nice running too. My son runs track this year. He’s not fast, but he’s enjoying it, and he’s becoming a stronger runner. For me, the right question is, “Do you trust God’s timing?”

    I hope you continue to grow stronger and spend plenty of time in the zone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jeanne. Track is a wonderful sport for both fast and not-so-fast runners. It’s a pursuit that can last a lifetime and produce lots of health benefits. That is a great question. I pray that you receive your answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. i laughed to think of you losing track of your laps. It’s been years since we’ve done speed work on the track but my husband always used to lose track and end up running an extra lap. Since I’d be behind him, I’d be calling out to tell him but he was usually “in the zone” and wouldn’t hear me. Nice memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That was sure impressive and it’s fun to see what you can accomplish when you’re not really putting the pressure on your mind to perform. Thanks for joining the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

    Like

  17. You have really given me a lot to think about. I agree that many times we ask the wrong question and even if we get to the answer it still doesn’t get us where we want to be. I read Emily P. Freeman’s book, The Next Right Thing, as part of her launch team. She addresses asking the question in one of her chapters. Lots to ponder after reading that book and this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m always so impressed by people who love running. I wish I was one of them because it gives run lovers such a boost when they achieve personal goals. You sound like you did fabulously so here’s a round of applause from me, and I’ll just keep walking and dreaming of being a runner 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Leann. Runners are notoriously addicted to running and I am one of them. I love walking too – the slower pace allows me to see more of the neighborhood. 🙂

      Like

  19. I think really there are 2 questions. 🙂

    Q 1: Do i need/want to improve?

    If the answer to 1 is ‘Yes’ then Question 2 is:

    “Am i going to improve more by doing more of what i find is easier for me or doing more of what is harder for me?”

    You don’t have to be fanatical about it. 😉 You can do both – but guess which produces better results? 😉

    Keeping the motivation up to ‘punish’ yourself every day (taking the harder choice over the easy one) is not a choice most of us end up making. Well, not this little black duck anyway! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is inspiring, and an important message, it makes me ponder whether I have been asking myself the right question, something I will journal on! I am so happy for you, it is a wonderful personal discovery and also a success for your mind and body. Thanks for joining in #ABloggingGoodTime

    Liked by 1 person

  21. That’s a fantastic time! Wowzers. I’m pretty sure it would take me a whole day to run what you have in just over 8 minutes. Is your injury feeling a lot better now? I don’t think I’ve ever fully thought about training a weakness. Hhhmmm food for thought. Thanks for joining us for the #dreamteam xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Thank you, Annette. I’m sure it would not take you a day to run a mile. My injury is much, much better. Thank you for asking. That whole “training to a weakness” thing doesn’t just apply to running – I have used it in other areas of my life too.

      Liked by 1 person

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