Taking the Good with the Bad
|October 4, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Motivation, Running|
Anyone who has been in a relationship with running for a period of time knows that you don’t stay in the honeymoon phase forever. Being in a lifelong relationship with the sport means that you are committed to a life of ups and downs. Sometimes the “up” phases (or down phases) can last for months – other times the rollercoaster ride is all part of the day to day.
It won’t be any surprise to you all when I say that my relationship with the marathon training part of running has been in a bit of a “down” phase this summer. While I’m still committed to toeing the line in DC at the end of this month, something has changed within me (name that musical) this summer. For whatever reason, I’m just not loving the process of training as much as I have in the past. It’s not the marathon itself that I’m struggling with – it’s the training. (Yes, I know you can’t get to one without the other.) As a result, I’ve already started dreaming up new goals for after this race is over. (Something I plan to talk more about in a future post).
Despite a marathon training cycle that has been a bit lackluster, my summer of running has not been all bad. In fact, I’ve experienced some pretty high highs – starting with a new 5K PR when I least expected it and finishing with two relays within a few weeks of each other. For all my problems with sucky runs, overall, running has definitely made for a very fun summer.
But more than anything this summer, I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. To appreciate the gift of the great runs, and to tough it up during the bad runs. I know this is all just the nature of this sport.
The thing that’s a little harder to accept is how that can change from one day to the next.
Last week was the perfect example of that. On Wednesday morning, I found myself with a very limited amount of time to run. I realized I could squeeze in 5 miles – if I kept a speedy pace. After a moderate warm-up mile, I figured that since I was going so short anyway, I might as well turn my run into a bit of a workout. I really wasn’t sure what my legs were up for, so I just dropped the pace below 7:00 minutes/mile and started running. I ended up getting faster with each mile (finishing up at 6:34) and ended feeling like I could have run faster and further. That day, I was over-the-top in love with running.
A similar thing happened again on Friday evening. Do you ever get the feeling that if you could just run fast enough, wings will sprout from your shoes and you’ll fly away? (No, just me?) Well that’s how I felt on Friday. The plan was to just go out for a run and not think about pace. After about a mile, however, the only thing I wanted to do was run fast. Since this doesn’t exactly happen everyday, I figured I might as well embrace it. All I wanted was to feel like I was flying. I was pushing the pace, but I wasn’t tired. I was floating in the clouds. It was one of those runs that left me thinking – THIS. This is what running is all about!
And then the weekend came. I slogged through a recovery run on Saturday, cutting it shorter than my original goal because my legs just weren’t feeling well. And on Sunday, when my goal was to run “just” 13 – 15 miles, I woke up with a head that was not in the game. Despite my awesome runs from earlier in the week AND the cooler temperatures, going out and running for a couple of hours did not sound the slightest bit appealing. But the miles had to be run, so I dragged my butt out the door, thinking that if I could run 20 the week before without any real problem, I could certainly run 15.
Unfortunately I had already set myself up to fail before I even started running. And even though I really focused on changing my attitude at the beginning of the run, my body was just not cooperating. My breathing felt way too heavy, my heart was racing, and my legs were filled with lead. Why, when I was running a much slower pace, did my body feel like it was working harder than it did when I was running sub-7:00s earlier in the week? Why was this cut-back run feeling so much harder than my 20 miles did the week before?
If someone had been following with a camera on my long run, I’m sure this is what I would’ve looked like.
I never did settle in or find my groove during the run. Instead, highlights of the morning included: forcing myself to run for an hour before taking a break, stopping in front of a random stranger’s house and half-heartedly pretending to stretch out my tight calves while I stewed about the situation, and tricking myself into taking the long way home – which gave me 5 more miles for a total of 13.1 for the day.
I know we’ve all been there. Sometimes, for no real reason, running is tougher than we want it to be. But other times, everything falls into place and you feel like you could run forever. Part of being a runner means learning to take the good with the bad. Not every run is going to feel effortless, just like not every run is going to be torturous.
This summer I must sound like a yo-yo – one day I’m talking about how tough running is, and the next, I’m loving it.
But that’s the reality of the phase I’m in right now. I’ve gone through long stretches of time where every run feels great, and I’m more in love with the sport than ever. But sometimes my motivation and desire to run changes every day, and I can’t really figure out why. All I can do is take things one run at a time, knowing that each time I lace up my shoes, I’m stronger for it.
Despite that, I can admit that it’s not really fun to feel this way – I wish I could ride the high of running forever. And sometimes the fact that I don’t actually makes me feel like an imposter. Because real runners love running all the time, right??
Sure. And dark chocolate doesn’t have any calories…