Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The sucky flipside of the running coin

Not everyday is an "accidental 5K." I admit, I've had a pretty good streak of sunshiney, happy, successful runs. But some days, like today, are horrible.

First, let me get all the excuses out of the way:
I drank wine last night; that must be why my muscles felt so weak.
I didn't eat breakfast beforehand.
I didn't drink coffee beforehand.
I'm not feeling that well.
It must be the gloomy weather; it's not very motivating.
It's this damn wind. What kind of stupid fly-over country is windy at 7 in the morning? I hate the prairie! Hate it!

It's possible, I suppose, that all of those things had a hand in how bad my run went this morning, but honestly, some days just go badly. I've been warned by my running friends that there will be times when you just have to cash it in and go home. That something with your body just isn't having it, and it won't do any good to torture yourself. Just listen to your body and go home.

I know that. I do. But when you're in the middle of one of those runs, you can't help but say terrible things to yourself. You feel weak, and you tell yourself that you're weak.

This morning, within the first five minutes I knew it was going to be bad, so I decided to stick close to home. My legs felt heavy and fatigued. My lungs were a little raw. Every step was an effort. I kept trying to get myself to the 15-minute mark which is when my muscles warm up and I usually start to relax into the routine of running. Most days, when you hit 15 to 20 minutes, it almost feels easier to keep running than it would be to stop. It's a weird feeling.

Not today. I hit minute 20, and I absolutely had to walk. And when that happens, it's a total mental kick to the crotch and only makes the rest of the run worse because your head/heart feels defeated. You say awful things to yourself and actually believe them. Crazy things. "Maybe you can't do this. Maybe the last few weeks are a fluke. Maybe your body just didn't know what was going on, like it was in shock or something, and now it knows what you're up to and it's not having it. Maybe 4.3 miles is the longest distance you'll ever run. Maybe running is something you just can't do anymore. Maybe you should just give up and go home."

I walked for 90 seconds and then pushed through the rest of the 3-mile run. Honestly, I should have just gone home. When I did get there, and relaxed for a few minutes with a cup of coffee, I of course realized how silly all of those negative statements are. I've proven I can do this.

But it's just nutty to me how volatile running can be. You never know how your body will respond until you're in the thick of it. It's as frustrating when it goes badly as it is exciting when it goes well.

I guess the only thing to do is try again tomorrow.

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