Just this one thing.

I keep updating my weekly workout post and it keeps getting really wordy. Well, wordier than usual. Instead, I’ve decided that means bonus posts this week for you 🙂

I’ve dubbed Tuesday’s as “Track Tuesday”. For the past 14 weeks, Hansons has me doing some sort of track workout. Since beginning this training plan, the nature of the workouts have evolved (starting with 5K pace for the first 10 weeks, changing to marathon pace minus 10 seconds/mile over the past four weeks), but the intention is still the same: to build speed, strength, and confidence. Each week, these workouts test me physically and mentally. Over the past 14 weeks, I’ve gone from being scared of these workouts to genuinely looking forward to them.

This past Tuesday, however, I was nervous for my workout. Partially due to the nature of the workout, but also because of the circumstances surrounding it. The pace/distance was appropriate, so it wasn’t that. It came after a string of “meh” runs: nothing was really wrong with my past few runs, I just wasn’t feeling great. I was missing the peppy feeling my legs had for the first 12 weeks of training and feared the cumulative fatigue had settled in for the long haul. To top things off, we had a faculty meeting after school which meant I had to start this workout about an hour later than usual. 

The past 13 weeks of track workouts have led up to this one workout. This was the final long track workout in my training plan. After this week, the track workouts continue, but the distances begin to decrease. In week 2, Track Tuesday began with a bunch of 400s at 5K pace. In week 14, however, I was gearing up to conquer 2×3 mile repeats. Three miles at a good clip. Twice. It’s not at 5K pace -it’s marathon pace minus 10 seconds/mile – but you might as well tell me that I have to run back to back 5Ks on a Tuesday afternoon. I was intimidated. I know I ran my recent 10 miler faster than this, but that was a race.

Training runs are a different beast for me. Pushing myself in a race seems to come naturally, but during a training run it often seems impossible. Whenever I’m asked to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone, it scares me. A little fear in marathon training is healthy. It keeps your respect for the marathon distance in tact and your ego in check. That still didn’t console me.

I grabbed my usual afternoon Starbucks fix and headed to my preferred trail. I stopped doing these workouts on the track or treadmill when the pace goal changed to the MP -10 seconds/mile. It challenges me to get out on some mixed terrain, and these workouts end up being pretty long (13-14 miles with warm up, cool down, and recoveries). I have a hard time stomaching a track or treadmill for that distance.

I changed into my running clothes and sat in my car for a eternity moment to talk myself into doing the workout. I wanted to go home and just lay on my couch. I wanted to make the dinner I’d planned for after the workout. I wanted so badly to just call it a day. My motivation was lacking, but I told myself: this was IT. The hardest track workout of the whole plan. After this, Track Tuesday will bring you challenges you’ve already faced. It might not get easier, but it will be familiar. My mantra on days like this – where I want to quit but can see the light at the end of the tunnel:

I just have to do this one thing. Just this one thing.

I repeat this to myself often – whenever I’m about to face any challenge in general, not just with running. I don’t know where it came from or when I started saying it, but I can clearly remember times where those words have helped me take the first step towards something challenging or scary. In high school, opening night of a show where I had a lead role and I was nervous – I just have to do this one thing. My first day of graduate school, when I showed up on Bloomsburg University’s campus after quitting my job and deciding to completely change careers to become a teacher – I just have to do this one thing. Showing up at races where I know I’m going to lay it all on the line – I just have to do this one thing. 

So I laced up my sneakers, hit start on my Garmin and did “this one thing.” I began my warm-up, and began to feel relief. I knew by the feel of the first mile that it was going to be okay. I finished the three mile warm up, and hit the first round of intervals hard. The overall goal was to run each 3 mile interval in 20:30, or a 6:50 pace (marathon pace minus 10 seconds/mile).

  • 3 Mile Interval #120:01 (6:40/mile); 1 mile walk/jog recovery – I walked a 400 and took in a GU, and jogged the remainder of the mile slowly before the second interval.
  • 3 Mile Interval #220:10 (6:43/mile); 1 mile walk/jog recovery –  same format: Ran the 3 at pace, followed by a recovery mile.

Finally, I could run it in and relax on my cooldown. The workout ended up being 14 total miles. I just did that one thing.

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Have you ever had one of those questionable workouts where you know you can do it – you know the task ahead something you’re capable of –  but you just don’t know if you have it in you that day? This was that workout, and when I hit the final mile of my last interval I knew I did it. That’s one of the best feelings. That’s where I get a true runner’s high. The last interval on the sketchy days when you know you nailed it. You know with utmost certainty that you really can do just one more thing. Not because I had a good run, because I tackled something scary in less than favorable conditions. It’s a confidence boost, and it makes you feel like you are capable of anything. Not just in regards to running. After a run like that, I feel like I can do absolutely anything.

So the next time you’re about to begin a workout that intimidates you, or you’re taking a step towards something in life that scares you, fast forward in your head to the end result. Remember that the things that scare you the most often will bring you the most joy and success…if you just do that one thing.

♥ ♥ ♥

What gets you out the door for a hard workout?

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54 Replies to “Just this one thing.”

  1. Oh heavens yes!! I just tell myself it’s only for X amount of time in m life for a chance at a lifetime of pride when k accomplish said goal. And giiiiiiirl that’s a hard core workout!!!! You’re a machine, baby! I just had my first set of 800s this week and thought I might die. I was all over the place in pace because I went out too hard (like first 800 in 2:48. What the heck?! That is NOT my goal MP. Lol Then the rest went where they needed to be.) which made the remainder of the workout feel like lead legs to the max and I thought my chest my explode. But when all was said and done I had finished my ONE thing that day. Rock on speedy sister!!!!

    1. Holy. Freaking. CRAP. A 2:48 800 is the stuff my dreams are made of. I think the fastest 800 I’ve ever seen during a workout was like 2:59. YOU are a freaking machine, sister!!! OMG I can’t wait for your marathon!!!!!!!!!

  2. This is how I feel EVERY.SINGLE.TIME I have to do a freakin tempo run! I hate those runs so much and I’m usually hit or miss. Sometimes it goes well and I feel super confident in myself; other times it’s just not my day and I can’t hold those tough paces. I think I just need more confidence in myself but that’s kind of hard to have for these hard runs. Major kudos to you on killing your workout once you started 😀

    1. Thanks my friend ❤ It's been a fun but hard 14 weeks so far. I have a tempo run today and I'll sure as hell be saying this to myself in my car once again! I really think tempos are the hardest of them all. They are so brutal. I just have to do this one thing!!!

  3. Great reminder! I often have to psych myself out for tough workouts as well. It’s funny, the mind games we play with ourselves to reach goals.

    For me, I often tell myself that I can quit during the workout if I really want to, as long as I get there and get started. I did this once when I for some reason decided that it was a good idea to do speed work on the track in 5 inches of snow… after the warm-up, I was like… “Nah, this is actually a legitimately stupid idea.” For me, getting started is the tough part. I don’t think I’ve ever quit a workout partway through without a really good reason, so as long as I get started, I know I’m good to go.

    1. I do the same thing! I tell myself if I can’t hack it I can back down, do easy miles instead – just get out there and doing SOMETHING is better than nothing. Most times, once I start I can sell myself on the workout a little better!

  4. Girl, mad props to you for successfully completing this tough and scary workout!!! I definitely use the tactic of “just this one thing”. It is usually in relation to speed work because that is my hardest workout of the week. MAD PROPS to you for being able to maintain that pace for 2×3 miles. I know speed is all relative, but I was SUCKING WIND this morning during my 6×800 that I was running at 6:39 pace. I had an 800 recovery after each one and it was sooooo hard. I kept telling myself, one more interval, okay you can do one more, okay you can do one more… So I have huge respect for the pace you are able to maintain for this workout!

  5. yeah, thanks for the little pep talk! I’ve got a 25K race this weekend and for some reason that distance kind of freaks me out! I’m using it as a supported training run, so I’m just running it at marathon pace. That should be easy, right?? Mind over matter.

  6. I LOVE THIS! This principle alone is why running gives me so much strength in my everyday life because I deal with SO MUCH stress, so much crap and I often have to cling to the idea that I just have to get through “this one thing.” And I always do.

    You nailed that track workout. That looked SO TOUGH. Whoa.

      1. HA HA! Okay, that’s actually so true. It would have been contagious and then I’d be sitting here feeling super sore right now. Hilarious. I’m such a dork sometimes.

      2. I know my mentality. I’d be like fuck, I want to do that too!!! And you need fresh legs because you have alllllll the makings of an awesome race this weekend. So no way I was going to blow it for you. I’m excited. How about how I’m supposed to run a 5K on Sunday and now we might get a Nor’easter! The race is part of a St. Patty’s day parade and if they cancel the parade, they cancel the race. I want to try my hand at a 5K sooooo badlyyyyy! This is one time I am NOT praying for snow!

  7. I’m the opposite – I usually get excited for the hard speed work. It’s the long runs that I have to force myself out the door and use the “just this one thing” mantra for. I know we’re all different but, good grief, I will never understand how anyone actually enjoys and looks forward to long runs. Give me a grueling workout that’s over in 90 minutes and I’m a happy woman; yet, when I can coast at an easy pace for 18 miles I want to die. Go figure.

    That said, there have been some hard workouts this cycle i have really dreaded and wanted to skip – and they ended up being some of my best workouts. I think it’s because I didn’t have high expectations going in, and my dread kinda fueled the fast paces by providing me with a lot of negativity to grind out.

    By the way, my mantra lately when I don’t want to get out the door in the evenings is “like you have anything better to do.” LOL, surprisingly, it works!

    1. It is the long ones I feel that way about! My speed and my long runs have evolved into one in the same at this point. It just gets so scary and it’s in the middle of the week that I’m doing it and I’m tired and hungry and ohmigosh I can keep giving you excuses as to why I shouldn’t do them. But – some of the hardest workouts that I’ve dreaded in this cycle have also been some of my best workouts. I agree that the dread fuels the workout!! If I can get myself excited, then the adrenaline fuels it. I try for excited, but if I can’t muster it up I resort to dread. Hehe.

    1. Mantras are so powerful! I use the one about staying in this mile. I always think when I’m struggling and have a long way to go, “Don’t worry about what you’re going to feel like at mile x, just focus on this mile, right now.”

  8. I followed Hansons last fall for a half-marathon, and I had that workout too. It was so hard, and I bombed the second set (slower than goal half pace). I keep trying to talk myself into trying it again, but I haven’t yet. It’s scary 🙂

    1. Dude it is THE SCARIEST plan I’ve ever followed! I have a tempo run today and you think I would be used to it by now…but I’m just as scared for that as I was for my Tuesday run! Hope you are doing well!!!

  9. I love this post. I think you’ll do great at Boston because… what a workout! It is basically 2 back to back 5Ks without having the “comforts” of a 5K race (like others to push you, awards, or the fact that you paid money to be there so you’re gonna push yourself a little more even if you do a race as a training run). I do agree with doing this somewhere other than a track… that’s a lot of left turns… but it is almost taper time for Boston and it sounds like some of the hardest workouts are now behind you. It’s the workouts like this that you look back on, after a successful race, and you say that you’re glad that you did it even though it was so hard at the time.

    1. Thanks, Amy! It was certainly a challenging workout. And you’re right – the hardest of the track workouts are behind me. I still have three serious tempo runs left. But at least there is something that gets easier each week at this point! I’m getting excited!

  10. I’ve been feeling this way about my long runs lately. They are getting into territory that i’ve never encountered before and that’s scary. I generally enjoy going long and slow, but now that long means 18-20 miles… it’s a different story.

    Great job on a great workout! You are too awesome!

  11. Yes! Sometimes that one thing is the hardest thing, but it’s also ONLY one thing. 🙂
    Good for you getting that awesome workout in! Now it’s all downhill, which must be a great feeling.
    Also, one less peppy week may just mean you need to recover a bit, and then you’re ready to go out stronger.

    1. Thank you! Yes, a few more hard tempos…so really, I still have just one more thing to do 🙂 Three, to be exact! But definitely downhill from here with the track workouts. I’m getting excited!

  12. Holy craptastic- 3 miles in 20 minutes?! Twice? Plus another 8 miles? I don’t even know what to say. That’s amazing!!! I hope you don’t mind if I have to borrow that mantra to get me through marathon training. 🙂

    1. Thank you!! It totally works to get myself through one more interval in a speed workout. When I’m actually in the workout, I’m always like, “come on, JUST ONE MORE and you can go to Starbucks!” Lol. I have a coffee problem.

  13. Awesome job getting it done!! Definitely have those workouts that you’re like…well….how do I do this? Solid mileage for the day and 2 fast 3 milers mixed in- Hansons plan seems to work really well for you!

  14. The key for me is starting to move before I give myself too much time to think about what’s going to happen. Then I focus on my breathing and evening out my pace so my body feels more comfortable.

  15. That sounds like a killer workout and you nailed it! Not to mention that it was part of a 14(!) mile mid-week run! What a great way to end the hardest of your track workouts before heading towards taper.

  16. Great job! The Tuesday workouts really are beasts. On top of them being a long & difficult workout, they fall on the 6th consecutive day of running. Ugh! But I also really like them because they build that mental grit, which is what I really lack. Congrats on knocking that workout out of the park!

  17. Great job! You hit some awesome times and I hope you will become more confident in your ability to run Boston well. You don’t have many hard days left and you can do it!
    For me the hardest is to start workouts, especially the ones at end of a day. But once I get going, it’s much easier to finish. It’s true what they say, the first step is the hardest 😉

  18. Catching up on posts and realized I haven’t read this one. I can definitely relate especially when it comes to hill runs – I’d always say “Just get to the top of the hill” and I can relax. Mantras are so powerful and can truly get us through tough times whether it’s a workout or just life in general. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. I came back to this post today because I needed to read it again before I do my 2×3 mile repeats this afternoon. I’m starting to feel a little stalky with you though, because now I want to cook all the meals you make (I eat that pumpkin custard stuff and I’ve recently started drinking coffee mistos LOL) and now I want to braid my hair like yours. I feel like if I align myself up as close as possible to the Great Allison, then I will be Great Suzy too. Ha ha ha! OMG I AM SUCH A DORK. No shame, no shame.

    But seriously, thank you for taking the time to text me, Instagram me, and just help me through all this stuff. I’ve been a marathoner since 1998, yet you have taught me more about it in this last year than I had ever known before I met you. HUGE inspiration. Thank you. ❤

    1. My friend Ashley tagged me in a picture on Instagram today. It totally applies to you:
      “The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.”

      You are fierce, my friend! You bust your ass – you can do this and you deserve it!! Pretty sure it goes both ways since I bought the Brooks Launch since I saw that the Great Suzy wears them. No shame here either!!! YOU are MY inspiration, sister! Now let’s go get us some sub-3s! 💪🏿🏃🏿✌🏿️

  20. Pingback: Before and After

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