Posts Tagged by running 101

A Super Scientific Look at the Difficulty of Long Runs

Yes, I know. That title is amazing. I am currently for hire as a “blog title writer.” Gotta make extra money for that wedding, you know.

Fact #1: Long runs are tough.

Fact #2: The difficulty of long runs does not increase at the same rate as their length. With each mile that you add, the difficulty of that run increases exponentially.

Fact #3: This is why, even after 6 complete cycles of marathon training, runs over 16 miles still freak me out. No matter how many times I tell myself, “No big deal. You’ve done this before,” those runs are just plain tough. And they take a certain amount of psyching myself up to get through.

In order to illustrate the above phenomena, I have created the following scientifically accurate and completely to scale graph. Based on my extensive marathon experience and research, of course.

Level of difficulty of long runs by long run distance on a scale between Sleeping and Death.

Long Run Difficulty Graph.png

No, I haven’t actually come close to dying on a long run. But since those distances make me feel like death, it seemed to be an appropriate scale.

Let’s talk about the long run for a little bit. That critical part of marathon training that can make us feel so amazing (“I can’t believe I ran so far!!”) and so awful at the same time.

I am not the type of runner who can just go out and run for several hours like it’s nothing. But at this point in my running life, I have a decent enough base that runs of an hour or so don’t even make me blink. An hour and half makes me think a little harder about my nutrition and how rested I feel going in. Two hours of running can be tough, but still enjoyable. But longer than that? I start to panic just a little bit.

There’s just something about knowing that I will be out there running for over two hours that makes my heart start racing. Two hours is a really long time. And three? Why do people even do such a crazy thing?!

I’m not sure why I experience these anxiety attacks before my long runs. Even though I’ve done it all before, any run that is longer than 15 miles makes me feel as though I’m about to take on something big. A little bit of nervous energy can be a good thing. That extra adrenaline can help carry you through for a little while. But sometimes, the amount of anxiety I feel before a really long run can be almost crippling.

This past week, I was scheduled to run 18 miles. A distance that I’ve successfully completed many times…and that is still 8.2 miles shorter than an actual marathon. Despite all this, I couldn’t escape the thought that 18 miles was a really long way – especially compared to the 15 I had run a couple of weeks ago (increasing from 10 to 13 miles – not so bad. Increasing from 15 to 18 miles, on the other hand, feels huge). For whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around the distance.

So in situations like these, I do the simplest thing possible to take myself down from “Don’t Die! Don’t Die! Don’t Die!” to a much more manageable, “I Love Running” or “Hurts so Good” level. I split the run up

Sometimes the split is purely mental. I divide the run into loops, and concentrate on the mileage of one loop at a time. Because a loop of 10 miles and one of 8, or three loops of 6 miles sounds way better than one long run of 18.

Sometimes the split is physical. Whether you incorporate a race into your long run, or do some inside and some on the treadmill, sometimes looking at your long run as a set of distinct shorter runs strung together can make it seem a lot less intimidating.

On my 18-miler, I needed to give myself an actual physical split. I ran 8 miles outside to the gym, hopped on the treadmill for 5 miles, and then ran 5 miles back home. This not only helped me focus on one chunk at a time, but it also made the run feel shorter. I kept telling myself that the mindless 5 miles I would run on the treadmill were easy and would be over in no time at all. So all I needed to focus on was running to the gym and then running a short 5 miles back home. As you probably could’ve guessed, in reality those 5 miles on the treadmill didn’t exactly feel like nothing. They weren’t awful, but they also didn’t go by as quickly as the 8 miles before them. And by 4 miles in, I was dying to get off that thing. By mile 5, I was glad that I had limited the treadmill section of my run to just 40 minutes.

After that, my only focus was on running home. I stopped thinking about the miles I had already done and those I had yet to cover, and just thought about my end goal. The last few miles were tough, as I had expected they would be, but I made it. And more importantly – I cleared a huge mental hurdle by reminding myself that I can run 18 miles. And no, I won’t die in the process of trying.

As a side note, I feel like I need to mention that, obviously, splitting up your run into actual separate pieces does mean that you stop several times during your run. And if you’re planning on racing a marathon for a specific time goal, this is probably not something you should do every training run. But we’ll talk more about that later. Because sometimes, especially if it’s early on in your marathon training, just getting those miles in is enough.

Anyway, I suppose this post has no real point – well, besides sharing my super scientific graph that I am in the process of submitting to several reputable journals (I’ll let you know how that goes).

I know that this is not some groundbreaking strategy for surviving long runs. Anyone who has trained for a marathon knows that you often need to play mental games with yourself in order to take on a really long run. Whether that be focusing on how you will feel after it’s finished, running some (or all) of the miles with a friend, or splitting the run up into smaller pieces, we all have our strategies that help get us through.

JoeK10KDoing a long run in bright colors while wearing a veil would probably help too.

But beyond all that, I guess my main point is that if long runs freak you out, don’t feel bad. I know sometimes it can be easy to think that other runners take to long runs like breathing. With multiple tweets and posts going up on the weekend about how someone “just ran 20 miles before 9 am!!” it can sometimes seem like these runs feel effortless for everyone else besides you.

But don’t worry. Even experienced marathoners get nervous before long runs. Or at least I do.

Maybe someday, if/when I run an Ultra Marathon things will change. But until then, I stand by the above graph.

Trusting My Internal Clock

I’ve talked about this before, but Garmins can be a mixed blessing. The feedback from them is great. And sometimes, when I look down and see a number that I like (whether it be pace or miles), it can make me feel on the top of the world. But other times it seems as though the watch’s sole goal is to crush my running confidence. I look down and see a pace that seems too slow for how I feel – and then suddenly, I feel even slower and completely out of shape. Or I see one that seems way too fast to maintain and then freak out. It’s a bit funny how one little watch can have so much impact on how we feel about ourselves and our running.

brideontherun.JPGRunning without a Garmin on Saturday was one thing that made the race so stress-free

In the spirit of being less dependent on my Garmin, last night I tried an experiment. I have been running with the watch more often these days (now that the training hiatus is over, it’s time to start getting my butt kicked by that thing again), but I still don’t want to be obsessing over the numbers on every run. I respect the watch as a helpful training tool, but there’s something to be said about trusting your body to tell you how fast/hard you are running, instead of a little digital computer on your wrist.

So last night, as I stood shivering on the corner in my shorts waiting for my watch to find satellites, I concocted an experimental workout in my head. The goal would be to keep a comfortably fast pace, without actually looking at my watch to make sure that I was doing so. I was just going to run at the pace that my body felt was quick but maintainable. I don’t know about you, but for me this can be a scary thing. Do you ever have those days when you feel like you are pushing hard and yet find out that your pace is actually really slow? I was afraid that after a sick day on Monday, my legs were going to trick me into thinking I was running fast while I was really just slogging along.

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But I squashed the doubts. After the satellites had finally loaded (and after getting the most disgusted look from a woman walking by who saw me standing outside in shorts in January – do my shorts disturb you that much?!) I was off. I settled into a pace that felt quick, but still relaxed. I turned on my music and got into the zone. I had no idea how fast I was running, but it felt great.

I kept that up for about 4 miles. At that point I went around a corner and was blasted by an awful headwind. I felt my pace slipping and wasn’t sure I’d be able to hold on for the 1.5 miles home. It was time for Phase 2 of my experiment.

I finally let myself look down at my watch and realized I was running a sub-7:30 pace. Even with the headwind. Seeing that number displayed was the extra motivation I needed to keep pushing through. At that point, I shifted how I looked at the watch. Instead of a device whose data stressed me out, this was something that was making me want to run faster. I wanted to see if I could beat the times it kept displaying for me. My goal became to speed up for the last stretch and finish strong.

It wasn’t my longest run ever, or my fastest run. But when I finally finished in front of my apartment, I was so excited. Because the pace had felt relaxed and almost easy the entire time. Without seeing any numbers beeping on my watch, I had just run a pace that felt great – and that pace was quicker than I had expected.

Not only that, but after getting home and seeing my splits, I was surprised by how consistent they were.

Mile 1 – 7:31

Mile 2 – 6:41 (this number is a little suspicious. I went under a spot where I sometimes lose satellite reception, so I guess the real pace is a little slower)

Mile 3 – 7:32

Mile 4 – 7:31

Mile 5 – 7:15

Mile 5.5 – 3:24 (6:46 pace)

Sometimes when I don’t have that constant feedback staring me in the face, I assume that my splits are going to be all over the place. It’s easy to start thinking that I need my watch to keep myself on track. Who would’ve thought that my body could do something like that on it’s own?

I will still be using my Garmin for Boston training. I want to be able to keep track of my training paces, and having a watch is a good way to ensure that I am running fast on fast days and easy on easy days. But it’s time to start trusting my body more. I want to start doing more of these runs where I let my internal clock set (and keep!) the pace. I think that after so many years of running, it sort of knows what it’s doing.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

…not to be confused with this book, by Garth Stein -

art of racing in the rain cover.jpg

Which, much to my dismay when I picked it up a few years ago, is not actually about running. Though I did learn a lot about driving race cars. And I’m admittedly a sucker for any story that’s about a dog, written from a dog’s point of view, or just has a lot of dogs in it.

Anyway, I digress…

Today I want to talk about running in the rain. Or, more specifically, racing in it. Signing up for races means making a commitment to run in any type of weather – cold, heat, snow, sunshine, and rain. In my running-paradise, every race would be 50 degrees and sunny. But this is real life, and sometimes that means you have to run in pretty inclement weather.

Like Sunday’s Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, where it didn’t just rain…it poured. Was I excited about running in these conditions? Heck no. Running through pouring rain and driving headwinds just adds to the misery of racing for an hour and a half. But it doesn’t have to be the worst experience in the world. With just a little bit of planning, it might not be quite as miserable as you expect.

Racing in the Rain

Signs of a runner who has been slogging racing for over an hour through torrential downpour…

Prov RnR.jpg

 

While I can’t promise you’ll have tons of fun the next time you have to race through a downpour, I do have a few tips to hopefully make it a little more bearable.

1.) Stay as dry as you can for as long as you can.

You have no choice but to get wet once the gun goes off, but why make yourself even more miserable by standing around and getting soaked before the race begins? Especially if it’s cold. Seek shelter before the start and try to go into the corral at the last minute. If you have to stand outside, get yourself a trash bag and make yourself a fancy schmancy trash bag rain coat. They’re all the rage these days.

Prov RnR_FL & LB.JPGPhoto from Frayed Laces

2.) Wear a hat.

This might be obvious, but having a brimmed hat is the best way to keep the water out of your face as you’re running. Because let’s be honest – do you really want rain in your eyes when you’re trying to figure out where to turn on the course or avoid those ankle-deep puddles?

DSCF5129.JPGI got this hat from Road Runner Sports a year ago – and love it!

3.) Less is more!

There’s no avoiding it – your clothes are going to get soaked. So don’t weigh yourself down even more by wearing big shirts or bulky bottoms. Since most races (that I know of) won’t allow you to run naked, choose light, formfitting clothes. As evidenced by the above photo, loose shorts start sticking and riding up when they’re wet. Not only is this incredibly unattractive, but it also can lead to more chafing. Which brings me to…

4.) Body Glide everywhere…and then do it again.

It quickly became clear after finishing Sunday’s race that I didn’t do as great a job with the Body Glide as I had thought. When running in the rain, you will probably experience chafing in areas you’ve never had to worry about before – avoid that by being as liberal with Body Glide as you can.

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5.) Leave the iPod at home

Unless you can wrap it in a plastic bag and stow it somehow, rain + iPods do not mix. Fortunately, mine seems to be okay now (maybe it just needed to dry out), but I shouldn’t have even brought it to the race to begin with.

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6.) Trade trainers for racing flats.

Within a mile of Sunday’s half marathon, my feet were so weighed down with water that my racing flats weighed about as much as my normal trainers. Even though this was the longest I had raced in them to date, I was so glad not to have even more weight on my feet.

7.) {try to} Have fun with it!

Stomp in puddles. Try to throw your competition off by splashing water at them. See if you can catch rain drops in your mouth. Or make a game out of out-running the rain drops. Yes, I know….after an hour running up hills and slogging through puddles, the fun starts to wear off a little bit. But doing whatever you can to change your attitude from “This sucks. I’m miserable. Get me out of here!” to one that sees the rain as part of the fun can make the race just a little less crappy.

8.) Bring a change of clothes for after the race.

You’ve already spent a long time running in your gross, wet clothes. Do you want to stand around in them too? Being able to towel off and change into dry clothes after you’ve crossed the finish line can make you feel as good as new.

Girls_RnRSorry Lizzy – this was too good not to share!

9.) Just make sure those clothes are stored in a dry place.

Whoever was in charge of the RnR bag check process didn’t really plan for the weather. Bags were just thrown in a pile on the ground without any sort of covering to keep them dry. Because canvas bags are waterproof, right??

I felt bad for all the participants who had checked their bags at the start only to finish and find sopping wet clothes waiting for them. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid this, but if you can stash the bag somewhere dry yourself – do it!

10.) Celebrate! …by going somewhere warm and dry.

Even though the amazing Sugar Ray was performing after the race (did he ever have more than just 2 songs??), we didn’t stick around for too long afterward. Because listening to a concert in the rain after running through the rain isn’t as much fun as one might think.

So the next day we celebrated surviving the race (me as a runner and EC as a world-class spectator) by going somewhere warm and sunny.

Okay…I’ll admit that this doesn’t really have a ton to do with the post. But I needed a #10…and you asked for pictures of my hair cut, so here you go.

LB_haircut

LB_gansett

 

Any other tips to share for surviving a race in the rain? 

 

 

The {ontherun} Guide to Racing for Fun

I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m not exactly the most successful “run for funner” out there. I’m so notoriously bad at it, in fact, that EC has started placing bets before every race I claim I’m just doing for “fun.” The deal is that if I do end up racing, I have to pay him.

Spoiler alert: I (supposedly) owe him a lot of money.

I say the line is too blurry to really know who won the bet, and have yet to pay up.

But the fact of the matter is that even when I go in with the best of intentions, there’s just something that comes over me on race day. Because deep down, my warped, twisted mind actually thinks competing is fun – in a “this hurts so good” kind of way.

So if I wanted to keep myself from competing* in last night’s Blessing of the Fleet 10-mile race (and avoid repeating this awful race strategy), I knew I needed to come up with plan. What follows is my definitive, super expert guide to racing purely for fun.

The {ontherun} Guide to Racing for Fun

1.) Choose your race wisely.

This is key. The right race can make all the difference in how you feel when you’re running it. Rhode Island might be a tiny state, but the Narragansett Lions Club sure knows how to put on a race! Road closures, tons of water stops, awesome crowd support along the entire course – it seriously was like one great big party out there.

2.) Choose your race outfit wisely.

The brighter the better. Bonus points if your shirt matches your shoes. And if you race in a skirt (yes, Dad, I raced in a skirt. Please don’t disown me).

DSCN0728.JPGYou can’t see them too well, but rest assured that the colors in my shirt and my shoes are a perfect match. Score!

3.) Make sure that outfit matches your {ontherun} partner.

It’s a well-known fact of life that coordinating outfits lead to fun races. How can you not have a good time when you look this good?

DSCN0722.JPG

4.) Travel to the race in style with the {ontherun} crew.

Races are always more fun when you have someone there who can help calm those nerves….and feed you treats before the starting line.

DSCN0715.JPGStill not quite sure what she put in those things…

Yep, it’s always better to go to a race with someone who has a calming presence. Who will say really nice things to you before the start and build you up, not tear you down. Someone just like Becky

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5.) Break the tried and true “don’t try anything new on race day” rule.

Okay, so this one has the potential to be a little dangerous, but nothing takes the pressure off quite like trying a bunch of new things on race day. Last night’s race represented a lot of firsts for me – first evening race, first time running a long race in my flats, first time running a real race in a skirt (relays don’t count), first time running with nuun (maybe I shouldn’t admit this since they are taking me out to Oregon for HTC next month but…I just love running with water!).

Some of those firsts were actually huge successes! Even though there were way more water stops than I had expected, I was surprised by how happy I was to have nuun with me. The air was so thick with humidity that I was drenched within the first mile, and thankful for the extra hydration. Running in the Adios was also a great choice. The bottoms of my feet were a little sore at the end, but I felt as light as air the whole way (Asics, I’m sorry but I’m starting to seriously cheat on you). The skirt, however – well, let’s just say that this article of clothing will continue to be reserved for “fun” runs.

DSCN0719.JPGThis is my “laugh all you want, but I know I’m rockin’ this look” face

6.) Resist every urge to sprint out at the start when every man, woman, and 5 year old child surges out around you.

Seriously, I’m not sure whether these people thought we were running a 5K or what, but people were crazy at last night’s start. It was all I could do to not get caught up in it. Even though I consciously put on the brakes, the first mile was still much faster than I had planned.

7.) Tell yourself that you are not, under any circumstances, allowed to run under 7:30s for the first 5 miles.

Okay, well, maybe for just a couple. It must have been all downhill…or something.

Blessing_Miles1_5.png

8.) Make a race playlist that includes cheesy tunes that you publicly make fun of but secretly find super motivating.

The lyrics might not be the deepest, but I promise you – nothing pumps you up more on a run than songs like Jordin Sparks “I am Woman” or Seal’s “Amazing.” Laugh now, but you try listening to them and not start believing that you’re awesome.

9.) As a reward for (trying) to hold back during the first half, give yourself permission to just run by feel for the rest of the race.

I used my Garmin a lot during the first 5 miles to keep my pace in check. But once I passed the halfway mark, I stopped looking at it and just started running. There was a lot of gradual downhill in the second half of the race and last night I just felt like flying. Maybe it was all the kids lining the course giving high-fives, or the spectators blaring music on the front lawn. Maybe it was the shoes, or the nuun, or the fact that I was in a really good mood. For whatever reason, running just felt so dang good. And I’ve learned that when running feels that awesome, your best bet is to embrace it.

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So I came up with a new plan – run negative splits.

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10.) And when the race has been run, celebrate your success with a friend!

Perferably one who is just as crazy about running as you are.

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There you have it. 10 simple steps to ensure your next race is a blast. Especially when it means that your long run is out of the way, and a whole weekend of relaxation is ahead of you.

Final stats (official):

Time: 1:13:21 (7:20/mile)

Place: 245/2,614 (17/382 in AG)

I think I’ve found my new favorite race!

—–

*I use the term “competing” loosely here. Truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to compete last night even if I wanted to. There were some crazy fast runners there. Exhibit A: top 10 females all averaged 6:41/mile and under. And the winning female came in under an hour. Meaning she ran sub-6 minute miles for 10 miles! Rock star. (Side note: apparently she’s from Providence. Maybe I should hunt her down and beg her to teach me her ways??

When Running Sucks

If you’re new to running or have never seriously trained for a race of any type, there are two truths about the sport that you may not know. And since I don’t want anyone who reads my blog to think that running is just something I do all the time without thought or problem, I figured I’d share them with you today.

Running Truths People Don’t Always Tell You

1.) Runners don’t always listen to their bodies, especially where training for a race is concerned.

I know you hear all the time that you should “listen to your body” and not push it if it really doesn’t feel up to being pushed. It’s important to respect your body this way if you want to avoid burnout/injury, and if you’re setting yourself up to live a healthy lifestyle. But you know the honest truth? When it comes to training (especially for distance races), a lot of times that line of thinking goes right out the window. It’s important to note that I am not talking about pushing yourself through an injury here, though many runners (myself included) have stubbornly done so (never with good results).

2.) Sometimes running sucks.

Sorry, there’s no way around that one. When you first start running, it’s pretty common to look at those around you who have been running for years and think that it all comes so easily to them. So you start believing that you just need to keep running, and once you’ve been doing it for enough time, it’ll come effortless to you too. Well I hate to tell ya – but that’s never going to happen. Yes, running will get easier. You’ll have more and more runs that feel effortless, or will at least be fun. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to avoid all future sucky runs from now until the end of time. All runners have bad days. It comes with the territory. But a bad run (or two or 12) is not the end of the world. You just have to hope that if you push through, tomorrow will be better.

 

nike-running-sucks-tshirtThis is actually a Nike shirt. I kind of want it.

Now that I’ve started you off on such a positive note this Monday morning, I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with this. And if you’re guessing I had a crappy run that I’m going to tell you about, you are correct! Except, I figured I’d take a slightly different approach. I’ve talked before about the mental side of running, and the other day Becky wrote a post about what she thinks about when she runs. So I figured I’d give you all a little glimpse into the HOTR-mind when it comes to pushing through tough runs.

The Mental Game of Running: Pushing through a Tough Run

Yesterday I woke up bright and early to get in my first official long run of marathon training. I wanted to go somewhere between 10 and 12 miles, and since I’ve done a couple of 10-milers recently, I figured it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to push for the longer side. I had my standard pre-run breakfast of toast with peanut butter/honey and a little coffee, filled up my handheld, and got out the door.

The problem – somewhere in between waking up and finishing that toast, I started to feel incredibly nauseous. And the only thing I wanted to do was to curl right back up in bed and sleep the feeling away. Unfortunately, every minute I waited meant the run would be that much hotter. So I finally just bit the bullet and got out there, hoping that after a few easy miles the feeling would go away.

I’m sure at this point you can guess that it didn’t – well, not for about 6 or 7 miles anyway. And as I ran, things just went from bad to worse. My head started hurting, my legs were heavy and my attitude was pretty pathetic. By 3 miles in, I was ready to call it quits. So why didn’t I? What was the point of continuing to torture myself? In order to truly understand my craziness why I kept going, here is the basic flow of my thoughts through those 11.5 miles.

rbk_running adThat guy is my tiredness and agony…only it wasn’t getting buried as I ran away from it.

1.) Use the “wait and see” approach.

When I first started out, everything felt off. My body just did not want to cooperate with my plan to run. But in my mind I thought, “You just need to warm up for a little bit. You’re just tired, and your body isn’t used to moving yet.” So I kept pushing. I told myself I needed to give it at least a couple of miles to feel warmed up, and hopefully then it would get better.

2.) Start rationalizing.

When runs feel especially awful, one of the first things I do is try to figure out why. It’s always a little easier to handle feeling crappy when you have an explanation for feeling that way. So yesterday I wracked my brain for reasons, trying to find something to blame my need to throw up on. Unfortunately I found none – I hadn’t stayed up late the night before, I hadn’t had any alcohol or anything bad to eat (just good old pasta and veggies), it wasn’t especially hot or humid out that morning, I had been drinking water, etc. The problem with not finding a reason? It just made me even more frustrated and ready to quit.

3.) Bargain with yourself.

As I mentioned above, by 3 miles in I was ready to call it a day. I had given myself time to warm-up, tried to figure out the cause of my issues, and nothing had changed. I was still feeling just as bad as I had when I started running. But instead of packing it in right there, I told myself to try just one more mile. One more mile and I could stop, stretch and then head back in the direction of home if I wanted to. And to make it even easier on myself, for this “last” mile, I could run as slow as I wanted. All I had to do is put one foot in front of the other and just keep shuffling along (“Everyday I’m shufflin’!”sorry, couldn’t resist).

4.) Use logic to reason with yourself.

At this point, you know I got to that 4th mile and didn’t call it quits. I can assure you it’s not because I suddenly developed some super-human strength or willpower. It’s because I logically talked myself out of it. At mile 3, my thinking was that I’d pack it in and get up early Monday morning to try again. Seems like the rational thing to do, right?? But then I realized – chances are, I’d feel even worse on Monday morning. My plans for the rest of Sunday afternoon involved sitting outside in the sun. Not exactly good preparation for a long run. The choice suddenly was between “keep pushing through and feel gross today” or “Go home. Sit out in the sun, and then try again bright and early tomorrow morning, with the risk that you’d feel even worse.” Since I couldn’t stomach the thought of feeling even worse than I was at that moment, I figured I was better off if I just kept going.

5.) Find inspiration somewhere else.

By now, my attitude was worse than it’s been in a long time. I kept trying to think positively about it….okay, so that’s a lie. My attitude was so bad that I was beyond even trying to think positively. I knew it was going to be a crappy run regardless, so why waste the energy lying to convince myself how great this was?? If I wanted to find the motivation to keep going, I had to look elsewhere. Fortunately, that day my path happened to cross over the running course for the Ironman 70.3 RI several times (hard to avoid in a small city). For those of you who don’t know, those athletes were running further than I was (13.1 miles) after already swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56. Pretty hardcore. And chances are, they were feeling just a little more tired than I was at that moment. Yet they kept going. And so I did too.

6.) Escape through song.

I’ve written before about how I think music is one of the best tools to get through a tough workout or a race. And sometime around mile 7, I was beyond trying to bargain with myself. I was beyond thinking at all, actually. Fortunately, it was right at that moment when one of my new favorite running songs (okay, favorite everything song!) came on: “Good Life” by One Republic. So I turned up the volume and blasted that baby over and over and over again. I sang (quietly) along with the song until I finally found myself believing it. It is a good life. And running is a gift, even on days when it doesn’t feel like it.

Oh, this is gotta be a good life

Finally, when all else fails…

7.) Tell yourself to shut up, suck it up, and just run.

I know that’s a little harsh. But seriously – sometimes it’s the only way to keep yourself going. There came a point yesterday when I finally took a step back and realized I was being a big wimp. I wasn’t actually sick, or injured, or hurting in any way. I was just feeling gross and tired and didn’t feel like running. The harsh reality is that when you’re training for a race, chances are you’re going to have quite a few days where you just don’t feel like it. But just like with any other commitment, you have to take the good with the bad. And committing means that you push through those bad times.

nikejustdoitad(source)

I know this post was a little more negative than normal, but I believe it’s just as important to talk about the bad runs as the good. Not every day of your life is going to be rainbows and butterflies – and your running won’t be that way either. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the tough runs. In fact, it’s those awful runs and awful races that show us who we really are as runners. If you want to grow and improve, sometimes all you have to do is embrace the suck, and just keep pushing through.

At the very least, the bad runs made the good ones that much better. And when everything falls into place on a run – when I feel effortless and fast and like I could run forever – well, those are the runs that I live for. Those are the runs that make all those other awful times worth it.

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