For the past few months, my Monday runs have become a real challenge. Because I work full time and still have two kiddos to take care of after work, I try to fit in most of my workouts at lunchtime. Mondays should be an easy two mile run, but I always struggle with this workout. After long runs on Saturday mornings, two miles should be easy. Maybe going into the run thinking “It will be a short, easy two miles” is why I dread it so much. So this Monday, after a long camping weekend that wore us all out I decided to be kind to myself and just do a brisk two mile walk followed by some stretching. The walk was fine but the stretching felt good.
Tuesday nights I usually meet my TNT teammates and coaches at a local high school track and run intervals, but this week I volunteered to get my run in right after work so I could get home to watch the kids so my husband could go on some work appointments. After a quick snack of some cheese and crackers, I strapped on my Garmin and headed out the door to a park nearby that has a four mile loop. One side has a packed dirt/gravel track and the other side has a paved running/bike path around the lake. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and lots of kids were on the soccer fields practicing as I started my warm-up.
Less than half a mile into my run, I knew it was going to be a struggle.
“It’s just the gravel track that feels different”, I told myself. “Just keep running and you will find your rhythm”.
After my mile warm-up, I stopped to stretch before following the paved trail to the other side of the park. My goal was to run another three miles at about a 9:30 pace so that I could finish and get back home in about 30 minutes. I started off, wishing my IPod was not at home on the kitchen counter with a dead battery, but trying to enjoy the beautiful day. Before I reached another mile, I had to stop and walk.
I was out of gas…
My legs were fine, my lungs were fine, but I did not have enough energy to keep going.
In order to shorten my run (which had pretty much become a walk at this point), I took the shortcut across the park instead of around the lake. I made two more attempts to run again, but was back to walking in about a minute each time. I looked down at my Garmin and saw a total distance of 2.26 miles. I resolved to just walk the rest of the way back to the car, and kept my pace at 13:30. By the time I made it back to my car at the park, I had covered a total distance of 3.1 miles (yay, at least I got in a 5K).
Once I got in the car, I called Trey to let him know I would be home soon. He was busy with our crazy kids but he could hear something off in my voice when he asked how my run went. When I hung up the phone, I started to go through the reason why I had such a crappy run. One of the best things I have learned in the past two months is to listen to my body. Just because “FOUR MILE RUN” is written on my calendar, my body may not be up to it that day. Looking back over the past few days, I realized that my Sunday rest day was not so restful and I also knew that I had missed my afternoon ‘pick me up’ snack before I left work that day. My body said NO to running that day.
I made up my mind that my body needed REST and NOURISHMENT for the rest of the day. I drove straight to MOOYAH, ordered a hamburger and ate my first bite of red meat in three months. Once I got home and broke down into tears again about my failed run, my husband went one step further and brought me a magic potion in the form of… a MILKSHAKE. Oh, it is so my yummier to drown my tears in a milkshake.
Because my weekly mileage is adding up, I also realized it is time to add in some more calories in my diet too. Our friend and personal trainer had recommended adding some red meat back into our diet so I am considering that as well. My very wise husband also told me that I have already accomplished so much that I need to be proud of each step, and remember that the goal is to cross the finish line on May 1st. He asked, “Who says you have to run the entire time? Take walk breaks if you need them.”
This is the first time I have ever trained for a long distance race, so I am going to have some bumps in the road along the way. Good thing week was just training and not the actual race day. Lessons learned this week: I carb load and get lots of rest in the days leading up to the race. And I will make sure my IPod is charged for my next training run too!
Do you struggle with bad runs? Is it a mental or physical struggle? What do you do to overcome?