Not long ago I blogged about how boredom sets in after I run a mile, and how I play head games with music, distant objects or even fantasy scenarios to help me reach my goal.
But the truth is, that first mile has its own issues. My ankles ache. My breathing is labored. And according to the MapMyRun app, the first mile is my slowest. That seemed counterintuitive to me. After all, the first mile is when I'm fresh and raring to go. Yet I find my second and third miles are faster, pain-free and easier for me to breathe. Always.
Well, I did something different this week, something that has been a game changer for me. The last two times I ran, I cut myself some slack. I stopped worrying about how I felt and I removed all expectations from that first mile. It didn't make me faster or stop those first-mile aches, but I felt better mentally knowing history would repeat itself and I would work out of any discomfort.
Yesterday, still curious about that first mile phenomenon, I decided to ask Google "why does the first mile always suck." I laughed out loud when the first two links that came up were "The First Mile Always Sucks" and "Why Does The First Mile of My Run Suck So Much?"
Turns out, it sucks for everyone, and for good reason. I liked this explanation at http://blog.airiarunning.com/the-science-of-running-motivation-why-the-first-mile-is-the-worst:
"Physiologically, it takes the body 7 – 10 minutes to fully transition from a state of rest to a state of athletic readiness, which is conveniently the approximate amount of time that it takes many runners to traverse a mile. The first mile is so uncomfortable because our heart rate, oxygenation levels, blood vessels, and fuel recruitment systems undergo drastic changes in a short amount of time. Once we acknowledge this fact, we are mentally less likely to assume that the first mile is indicative of how the run at large is going to proceed."
If you take anything away from this, let it be that last sentence. Let the first mile suck. It doesn't look like we can do a whole lot to change that.
Try thinking of it this way, as suggested at http://vitals.lifehacker.com/the-first-mile-always-sucks-let-it-go-1752457839:
"The first mile of your run has one job and one job only: To prepare your body for the rest of the workout, which is where the magic happens. So rather than thinking of your training run as a three-miler, you’re running a one-mile warmup and a two-mile workout. And you won’t start looking at your watch, or asking yourself to do anything strenuous, until that first mile is behind you."
That, my friends, is great advice and it is truly working for me.
Now I just need to figure out why my fourth mile sucks...