My target for the half-marathon was 2 hours 30 minutes. Now I'm thinking it's a bit of a cop-out target, meaning it does not pose an actual challenge, one that corresponds to my ability; and so by setting the bar lower than it should be, I get to say that I have achieved my aim even if I actually end up under-achieving. I would not be able to say the same if I set my target at, say, 2 hours 15 minutes (which I think I ought to do), and end up finishing beyond that. It is a soft target; it gives me a way out of feeling like I have failed if I don't achieve the target, and simultaneously, gives me a free pass to feeling like I have achieved a goal because the target, simply put, is too easy.
I realised after today's run that the most stubborn and formidable person standing in the way of my achieving things is me. It is the voice in my head that says I can't do this, can't do that; it is my biggest stumbling block because it is an integral part of me and so I believe it. There is something very revealing about individual sports--tennis, running. It reveals who you are as a person when push comes to shove and the only thing that stands in the way of your running the extra 5 or 10 minutes, your chasing down a shot that seems too far from reach, is the voice that says 'I can't do this'. So much of what we do starts from the mind; and I realised this today when I thought back to all the runs that I have done in Singapore and Cambridge since the 10k race that I did almost a year ago, and the reason why, until a couple of days ago when I started training for the half-marathon, none of them had gone past the 30-minute mark. It was because I was too permissive with myself, with my laziness, with my lack of determination to push through my default inclination to stroll down the path of least resistance. And so I believed myself when I thought about how tired I was after a paltry 15 minutes and stopped the run 10 minutes later--and the biggest problem wasn't the physical exhaustion. No, the biggest problem was the mindset that I was in right from the get-go; a permissive mindset, emblazoned with the useless words 'just try your best' which is really a euphemism for 'I am too lazy to push, so I'll just give in to the laziness now and say that I did all that I could later when I inevitably do not do a proper run'.
Of course, there is another factor that causes me to set the bar low: fear of failure. I am afraid to set a realistic, challenging target because I am afraid of not achieving it. And failure is not an option because the point of setting targets and goals is to achieve them; the point is not to fall short. The point is to push myself, to prove the point to myself that I can do something that I set my mind to. And since achievements are so hard to come by academically/professionally, I need these small achievements, these small victories, as reminders of the strength of my will and determination.
So the point of the half-marathon is not to finish it. That, to me, is a given. The point is to finish it within a certain time...and if subsequent runs go as well as today's, I might just revise it to 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The run felt good today. I felt some menstrual cramps coming on around the 15-minute mark, which usually happens when I run a day or two before my period; but for some reason, they went away after a while. I don't know if it was because I forced myself not to think about it when I felt them; possibly, right?
The only issue that I had was that it was chilly and I was wearing only a t-shirt and shorts. I was a bit afraid of catching a cold again which almost made me stop at 45 minutes. But I was feeling pretty good--not too out of breath, running in a steady rhythm and pace, and I wanted to push myself to run for an hour.
And so I did. Felt like I could collapse a minute or two after I stopped, but I'm not feeling that tired right now, and certainly not more tired than I did yesterday after almost 3 hours of tennis. Maybe I am more fit than I think I am.
I shall do a short-ish run in the morning. I am rather concerned about the timing of the half-marathon: 4.30am! I'm not sure how I will fare in the morning, and so I will find out tomorrow. I'll just do an easy 30-minute one and see how that goes. If I feel good during the run, I'll extend it. If I feel like shit, I'll just finish the 30 minutes and take it from there.
I should follow a training plan of sorts, right? Honestly, I can't be arsed right now, but I will see how it goes tomorrow morning and take it from there.