Every time I run, I encounter challenges. Runs are never easy per se, as the only easy miles I encounter are when I'm behind the wheel and driving them instead of running them.
But within each run, I've noticed that there is one mile that always challenges me, always makes things difficult and sometimes puts bad thoughts in my head:
The first mile.
Whenever I run, and it doesn't matter if it's outdoors or on the treadmill, whether it's a distance run or intervals, the first mile is undoubtedly the hardest mile. I don't know why. I can't figure out the root of my mental block about this mile.
And it doesn't matter if I warm up a lot or just a little, to be honest. On Tuesday I ran intervals, four miles worth, and I walked the first .25 as I always do. I was motoring along, alternating between 6.2 and 7.7 and I didn't feel in a groove, didn't quite feel in a rhythm. Then, quite suddenly, I felt myself get in sync, felt like I was more in my element. I looked down at the mileage and it read 1.28.
I can actually feel it now, when I cross that mile-marker. It's actually quite amazing how much I can feel my body and how well I've gotten to know it. That first mile is tough but once I get past it, I'm good to go. I got through the latter portions of the interval run quite nicely, and when I ran my two-minute sprint at minutes 35 and 36 I was hauling, I gave it my all and it felt great. In fact, I felt better doing that when I was already exhausted than I did when I was just starting out and my heart rate was still in the 140s.
Perhaps that's it, perhaps it's the heart rate. I've always felt that I run my best when I'm in the high 160s and low 170s. I think that's when my body responds the best, and getting to those heights doesn't happen instantaneously for me during runs.
But this is actually a good thing, my struggling first mile. This actually makes me feel like I have the ability to run long distances. Mile 2 and Mile 3 and Mile 4 are not as difficult for me as Mile 1, and I'm hoping that means Miles 5 and 6 and 7 and 12 and 13 will be like that, less challenging as they go. Of course, there will come a point during a long, double-digit mile run that I'll hit a wall or struggle and maybe then I'll blog about how Mile 14 is the most challenging mile.
Until then, though, the first mile still stands as imposing as ever.