Resistance and Acceptance

Hi All!


Hope everyone enjoyed the sunshine this past weekend – it was glorious! Looks like it won’t be out again here in Toronto for a while. Don’t forget to take your vitamin D!


We were also hit this weekend with one of our first blasts of really cold temps. I think Saturday was – 11C with the windchill making it feel like -18C. These are pretty normal mid-winter conditions for us. But what I found interesting was my (and some of my running mates’) initial reaction to it. It was resistance. There was a feeling of “I don’t like this – I want it to be different”. And I thought – that’s an interesting thought to have near the end of January. Usually by this point in the year we have moved on to “acceptance”. But it’s always that first introduction to something which makes it harder because we haven’t just accepted it – we’re somehow trying to fight it. By the 4th or 5th run in the low negative temps, it just is what it is. We stop giving too much thought to it and that just makes it so much easier.


I went for my first long run (what I would consider a long long run) in a while the other week. I hadn’t run that distance in a while, and my brain was not used to it. In fact, I felt I was resisting it for the first 18 kilometers. That is a long warm-up. But finally, at about that point, I think my brain finally went into “acceptance” mode. Ok. We’re doing this. And it suddenly felt so much easier and more enjoyable.


The same phenomenon often happens to me and others before a race or big workout. Do you ever feel heavy and tired in a warm-up? I almost always do. Most of us know there is no correlation between how you feel in a warm-up and how you feel in a race. In fact, some of my more seasoned running friends swear that the worse you feel, the better you’ll race, and that feeling great in a warmup is a bad sign. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but what I do believe is that your brain is aware of a big effort that is to come, and is somehow putting on the breaks and trying to resist it. As soon as the race or workout starts however, acceptance sets in and you feel supercharged and energetic again (until of course you don’t).


My takeaways from all this is that starting is always the hardest part because there is so much mental resistance. Once you move from resistance to acceptance, it all just flows so much more smoothly. I’m sure this applies to many areas of life as well. What is the old Buddhist saying.. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”. I’m no Buddhist expert, but I believe this is saying that the experience will happen – it’s whether we are able to accept it or whether we fight it the whole way which determines whether we’ll suffer through it, or just experience it. Sometimes it takes our brains a while to catch up to where we want them to be (like 18K!) but the goal is to get them to stop kicking and screaming and just enjoy the ride – even when it’s cold, intense or uncomfortable. Accept, and go.


Onto tomorrow’s workout – back to Lakeshore and Leslie! 6:05 drills, 6:15 go time.


Let’s do cut-downs. For ppl training for longer events, we’ll do some bigger volume again. I like these because they force us not to go toooo fast and the cut-down format allows us to accumulate more work at an effective pace (if you want to nerd out on the science of this check out this article by Alex Hutchinson: Why Ladders are the Best Interval Workouts)


1.5 miles (three lengths), 1 mile (two lengths), 1200, 800, 600, 400. Rests are 2 mins, 1:45, 1:30, 1:30, 1:15


If you’re not training for a big race, are a newer runner without big mileage under your belt or training for 5K’s -10K’s, start with 1 mile (leave out the first 1.5 miles).


If doing this by time: 8 min – 6 min – 4 min – 3 min – 2 min -1 min with the same rests as above.


That is all – see you in the am!