Thursday, July 24, 2008

Take It and Run Thursday: The Tough Stuff

This post is a contribution to the Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday. This week's topic is "Overcoming the Tough Stuff."

I know that some of my regular readers probably think I make it sound like running is just a breeze for me. The truth? It's not. I have never had that natural athletic ability to run fast. In addition to that, I've had to work really hard to build up my base so that I can run longer distances than the average person. I train really well to prepare for a marathon.

There are definitely tough days. For me, it's not really about a particular type of workout. I have great days when I'm doing speed training, tempo runs, ridiculously long runs, and cross training. The tough days always hit at random and are not picky about what my work out plans for the day may be.

I have days when I just feel sluggish. I may have sailed through a 15-mile run the week before and then be struggling to get past mile 6. I find that the first thing I start doing in questioning why I feel so terrible, and some days I just can't come up with an answer other than "it's just one of those days."

How do I overcome those tough moments in training?
  • I remind myself that I've done it before and KNOW I can do it again.
  • I turn the iPod to a terrific tune that is certain to pump me up.
  • I might turn the iPod to a podcast of Garrison Kellior telling stories about Lake Wobegon, because if I can get lost in a funny story I can kind of forget I'm running.
  • I start setting mini-goals for myself. "If I make it to that turn and feel like I'm going to die, then I'll take a 20 second walk break. If not, I'll keep pushing."
  • I keep pushing.
  • Sometimes, I stop. Every now and then it's tough because my body is trying to tell me to take it easy. I don't think there's any shame in cutting a workout short sometimes. When you spend 4 months training for a marathon, there's no reason to feel like you don't have some room to change up the training schedule on occasion.

In the end, I never allow myself to get too discouraged by a tough day. Maybe I'll cut it short, or maybe I'll trudge through to finish feeling less than my best. Either way, tough days are inevitable. The biggest thing I try to do is to keep a wide perspective on my training as a whole. If I allow one day to affect my mentality about training, it'll be difficult to get to that start line with a positive attitude and feeling of excitement. I try to remember that I usually have more good days than bad, so I'm still making it closer to my goals.


The Happy Runner said...

"I don't think there's any shame in cutting a workout short sometimes."

You're right! Sometimes you just need to do that so your next run can be a better one. I've been known to head out for a run, feel cruddy and slow it way down. What often happens is that half-way through the run, I start to feel good and I pick up the pace, or decide to tack on some miles. Sometimes, you just need to be flexible with your running -- just like you would be in your life!

Shilingi-Moja said...

I'm glad someone else has random tough days -- well, OK, I'm not glad but it does make me feel more normal.

AK said...

This is the first time I've found your site. I like the verse you have posted in your header. I'll be out here and I'm putting you in my link list.

Keep it up!