Apr 12, 2014

Bad runs are still good workouts

Usually, when I go out for a run, the first mile is rough.  It's uncomfortable, somewhat exhausting, and a little awkward.  Then, my body is warmed-up and the rest of the run seems fluid.  I feel energetic, light, and graceful.  I have fun.  I enjoy myself.  And this feeling can last throughout the rest of the run.  It's why I love running.

However, there are bad runs.  These running workouts stay uncomfortable, awkward, tiring, and can even get painful.  My legs feel heavy--like I'm stomping my feet.  I notice the most minor pains, and they stay prevalent in my mind.  It seems I'm constantly checking my watch just to see if I accomplished my workout for the day.  I contemplate quitting, and sometimes I do.  This is exactly what happened to me during one of my training runs this week.

I wasn't anticipating a bad run.  In fact, I was looking forward to running.  This run would be a buddy run with my friend Maria.  I love running with her since she pushes me to hold a faster pace and to run farther.  The conversation is also enjoyable and makes the miles tick by until we're already done with our workout.  Training with Maria has led to my fastest and farthest consecutive runs and two PR's (Personal Record).

When I'm not following a strict training plan, I like to give myself a goal-range so I can continue running if I'm feeling up to it, or so I can hit the minimum and rest if I need it.  A goal range makes me feel accomplished no matter the circumstance.  This run, my goal was 5-7 miles. We set out and already I felt heavy, tired, and awkward.  I chalked this up to the standard one-mile warm-up discomfort.  Unfortunately, this persisted and when I checked my watch to only see "2.23 miles", my heart sank.  It had felt like I was already sitting at mile 4--on a hard day.  This was shaping up to be a bad run.

Each step felt heavy.  Each stride felt awkward.  My breathing was ragged and it seemed all my joints were achy.  I was hot, thirsty, and hungry.  I just wanted to be done.  If it weren't for Maria's gentle and sincere encouragement, I would've thrown in the towel at mile 3.  In fact, her encouragement built my determination up word by word.  I kept repeating mantras to myself, "I.  Will.  Finish.  Five.  Miles."  and "One step at a time."  Each repetition my determination only solidified.

That's not saying the run got easier.  Not at all.  I kept staring at my watch for progress.  I kept noticing every little discomfort.  I kept wanting to stop.  But, I knew if I stopped for just a second, I would quit and I wasn't going to quit.  So on I trotted, probably slower than I would've been walking.

Maria's conversation helped to take my mind off the slowly ticking miles at times.  Until, finally, we had reached mile five.  My watch reached five miles about an eighth of a mile before hers did, so I dutifully went by her record.  But I stopped right at the moment the watch hit five.  My legs were tight and sore, and we still had a little ways to go back to her house.  We ended on a brisk cool down walk.  Our OCD kicked in when we only had a quarter mile left until we hit six miles, so we walked one more lap around her neighborhood and paced in her driveway until we both hit 6.2 miles.  I completed a 10K distance, with my minimum goal at 5 miles. and I completed it in 1:19:23.  That is still faster than my first 10K race last year!

Although this was a bad run, I found achievement in it.  I'm better off for having pushed through the discomfort and I'm better off for sticking to my guns and completing my goal.  Bad runs are still good workouts!  This run taught me that all you really need for success are great running friends and a little determination.

My first e-bib!

4 comments:

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  2. I had a great run yesterday, and I think it seemed even better since my previous workout was awful!

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