Today's workout called for a 5000m row. I do not have access to a C2, so, after some consultation, I decided to run 3 miles instead. I was told to run it hard, and I set myself a goal of 3 miles in 21 minutes. I have never done 3 miles in that time. I have come close before, 21 minutes and change, in my running days. But that was 5 years and 20 pounds ago. I don't train that way anymore, I use the weights a lot and get my "cardio" from brutal circuits. My workouts for the last few months have featured no running whatsoever.
Immediately you see the problem. The ego suggested a goal, and I listened, and adopted that goal as my own. I had not put in the work necessary to achieve that goal, and I thought I could just show up and, with pretty much nothing in the bank, set a new personal best. The smarter thing would have been to set a more achievable pace, maybe 22:30 or 23 minutes. Those times are not fantastic but at my current fitness levels, and in the context of my larger training plan, they would have represented good work. More importantly, I could have finished the workout.
By now, you know how the story goes. I started off at about a 6:45/mile pace. Two laps in and I realized the hole I had dug for myself. Approaching the mile mark, I had "the moment". Faced with the consequences of my decisions, there were two paths: continue on and live with myself with integrity and suffer, or give up.
I chose to bail. One mile done, and I was done too.
In the initial moments after quitting, I tried to rationalize my decision. "My lungs hurt", "my legs hurt", "it's humid out", "one mile is good for not having run in a while". But the truth is, I made a choice. I chose to quit, I chose to stop putting one foot in front of the other. I did not have enough integrity to face the consequences of my actions. I lied to myself.
The walk back to the car from the track was tough. I took stock of other areas in my life where I had dug myself a hole that I cheated my way out of. It's not easy to come face to face with yourself as you really are, not as you imagine yourself to be.
It's interesting to me how I first thought that what I learned today was that I need to pace myself and fight against my ego. In fact, I learned that you cannot expect to achieve what you did not work for. And the answer is not always to work harder, to run yourself into the ground. Sometimes the answer is to just starting working, period.
Second, when have dug yourself a hole and find yourself in an uncomfortable situation that is of your own making, stand your ground and live with yourself. Sometimes it means suffering. In fact, it almost always does. But you come out on the other side with integrity.
I did not have that integrity today. I will have it on Monday, and every day after that. And not just on the track, or in the gym, but in all of life, with the help of God.