Muscles Know Better than Mind

At the usual hour and with the usual I’m still waking up energy, I met Kate this morning for our routine run. We never do the same route, but I can always rely on a good chat, refreshing workout and a pace just slightly faster than I would’ve pushed myself, if it were just up to me and these legs. Within the first mile, I could feel the unusual speed that we were already tackling.

On a side note, this chick ran the Army 10-miler on Sunday at {what I consider} a very quick clip. Her goal was to finish around 70 minutes (gah!), and she hit 68. She didn’t do any special speed-work, she barely tapered, we ran a hilly 5 miles the day before, and yet she didn’t look almost-dead when she crossed the finish line. When we saw her at mile 7, she even half-waved and smiled. When I saw her after the finish, she was alive!

In other words, I think she’s magic.

10.9.11 047Her running schedule has been relatively similar to mine (i.e. we run a lot of miles together), and she was a little bit nervous going into the race. Yet, her goal stayed the same – < 70 minutes.

Our average pace in the morning is usually around 8:15-30 as we chat and tackle the DC hills. I know she’s capable of stepping it up, but admittedly, I wondered how that pace would translate to an average 6:50 during a race. By wonder,  I mean am-baffled-by. Yet she didn’t change that number, she just let it hover. She found a pacer to stick with, set her mind on speed…and bam!

Goal accomplished.


This morning I could tell right away that her legs were going to make us move, and I have no choice (other than run solo at 6 a.m.  – no thanks!) but to keep up. The graph below speaks to the route that we chose, and I’m checking this as a semi-(unplanned)-tempo run for the week!

She recalled that when we started this routine (about a month ago), my goal was to get back to feeling comfortable at sub-8s. Without a heads up, she decided we’re slacking on that and need to get goin’!

I’m not one to argue with an attempt to run faster. Judging by her racing skills, I’m also not arguing with her mentality. Just make me keep going!

MassAve Run

I’m not entirely sure where those dips come from; I assure you we didn’t jump into any ditches, fall into any pot-holes or roll downhill. Garmin, maybe you weren’t fully awake yet, either.

Massachusetts Avenue, you won today. Our pace slowed quite a bit up that climb, but we’re not through with you. We’ll be back!


I needed this reminder; your muscles know what you can do. They know how you’ve trained, where you’ve been and what you’re aiming for. Your mind can try to have its way, but it’s up to you to win that game.

Listen to your muscles, they’re the ones who do the hard work! Or listen to (ahem, keep up with) your running buddy, and keep them around for the days you need a reminder that your legs are up for a challenge.



Filed under adding the Hills, learning, running buddy, training

12 responses to “Muscles Know Better than Mind

  1. Very cool. Always enjoy hearing when a good run goes great. You really help inspire me to push myself on my daily runs. I think it really keeps things interesting.

    Glad you stayed out of the pot holes, lol.

  2. SUCH a good point – your muscles (and body) *do* know better than your mind. It’s just so hard to turn off the brain and let your body just do it’s thing. Though, last night I did have one of those mind-freeing runs where my body was totally going on its own, without me holding it back by overthinking. It was amazing!

  3. This post is very timely for me, as I approach my next marathon with a lot of uncertainty as to what I can do… I think I need to shut off my mind and go with my muscles!!

    Congrats to Kate BTW! Smokin 10 miler!

  4. wow, she IS magic! this version of your friend kat[i]e is not so magic, just so you know.

  5. She’s a machine. I hope she spares us when they destroy humanity.

  6. Great point point on the muscles! I’ve been stressing a bit about my marathon this weekend…but my muscles DO know I’ve prepared them and they are darn capable of doing this thing in a good time. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Pingback: TTT: ‘Now I Get It’ Edition | Dietitian on the Run

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