In thinking about the mental aspect of running, I realized that my goal for my routine hasn't been clear and straight forward for some time. I've been trying to run for more time, but I've been unwilling to slow down because I didn't want to sacrifice my mileage. At this stage of the game I need to throw the mileage expectations right out the window, and if I don't care about that then speed can follow it out too.
Now that the goal was/is all cleared up, I can focus on what's important. Running, that's what I'm trying to do here. Sure I want all the great benefits of running, but first and foremost I want to run. That brings me back to last Saturday, I ran for 17 minutes straight. I quit because it was a mile. I watched the time and distance slowly tick away to a mile. As I got closer to the goal my crazy brain told me that was a long way and I should be really tired. Learning from that experience I may have now found the most important tool for running on a treadmill for me. A towel. Securely placed over the treadmill display, it blocks out all the negative sub-consciousness that comes from knowing exactly how far I've come in what amount of time.
Last night I told myself that I was going to run for five songs on the album I was listening to. After that I'd check the display and see where I was. I started by doing a two minute warm-up walk. Then I set the treadmill to 3.5 mph (my most comfortable running pace) and I just ran. My legs did tighten up a little, but they didn't hurt during those five songs. My feet never hurt during those five songs. I'm sure having a rest day before trying this helped, but I think not taking walk breaks helped too. Somewhere in the middle of the 4th song I really wanted to look at the display. I kept doing a body inventory and confirming to myself that I was not in pain and that I could do this. I told myself that as long as I had been running for longer than 17 minutes I would take a little walk break after the fifth song. When that song ended I pulled the towel off and the timer read 21:52. I ran to 22:00 minutes and then took my walk break. I had run for twenty minutes straight! My walk break was two minutes then I ran for two minutes, took another two minute walk break, and finally ran the last two minutes. I finished with 24 minutes running out of 30! To me this isn't run/walking, this is running. Only taking two, two minute walk breaks with a two minute warm-up, now that is huge for me (pun intended).
So this is what I want to do now, I just want to run. Obviously I want to get rid of all the walk breaks and run for thirty minutes straight. At this point I can't imagine that I am more than a week from that goal though. My plan is to do the same thing tonight, run without the treadmill display and see where that gets me again. Depending on the level of discomfort it should tell me whether I can run back to back days or if I need to incorporate more rest days for now. If I can only run every other day then so be it, I'll take the progress with lack of injury over the over training any day. So if tonight goes well then I will probably do a rest day Friday, then another crack at the mile on Saturday with just a minor speed increase (like .1 mph), then the long run on Sunday which will be for 42 minutes this week, and finally a rest day on Monday. Boy do I like to plan.