Some training runs are simply dreadful

Running can be a wonderful thing, but occasionally it’s barely bearable. It’s true. And I’m not whining or complaining.  It’s just a simple fact of marathon training that some training runs turn somewhat randomly into nightmares.

Take yesterday, for example.

My marathon training schedule demanded I pound out 12 miles. (I've run farther than that in training, in plenty of half marathons, and in a full marathon. So I didn't expect this to be a momentous event.) I planned my route and stepped out to start.

That’s where things began to go wrong. It was a terrible, no-good, dreadful, pitiful, painful, atrocious, abominable, very bad, lousy, beastly, hideous run.

Some training runs are simply dreadful.

 There could be all sorts of reasons why this particular run was especially awful.

  • I’ve pushed my own limits more than usual lately.  (Rest days? What rest days?)
  • Certain stresses are adding extra rocks to my emotional backpack. (Don’t get me started on that.)
  • A full night’s sleep has become a rarity.
  • I’m coming back from a knee injury that still nags me on longer runs.
  • Multiple sclerosis tends to mount its ongoing attacks with extra oomph in the warmer months, chipping away at my balance, energy, and wherewithal.
  • I ate dinner way too late the night before. That probably explains why my digestive system went into overdrive around mile four, threatening to sideline me. (But it didn’t.)
  • Something bit me (or stung me) on one bicep, as I plodded along mile six.
  • My Garmin began displaying its “low battery” message halfway through mile eight. It still measured the distance, but I couldn’t monitor myself till I completed the trip.
  • A souped-up diesel truck revved its engine while passing me on a country curve by mile nine, filling the air (and my lungs) with thick black smoke.
  • I ran out of water at mile 11. Fortunately, I was in the homestretch by then.
  • Oh, and it’s definitely time for me to invest in a new pair of running shoes.

There are also plenty of reasons why this should have been a pretty good run.

  • It wasn’t the heat. The temperature topped out around 84. It’s been way higher than that lately.
  • I didn’t get caught in a sudden downpour. (Hey, sometimes that almost a welcome thing.)
  • I’m not battling the flu or a sudden cold.
  • My trio of missing toenails (marathon casualties) have nearly grown back.
  • My running playlist has several newly added, favorite, kicky, and inspiring tunes.
  • I’ve just about found my sustainable long-distance pace again. (No more 5Ks for me till after the long races coming up in the next few months.)

So things looked promising … at first.
But it wasn’t a good run. Yes, I got the miles done, but lots of stuff hurt during and after the trip, although I begrudgingly took plenty of walking breaks.

Not gonna lie.

Some training runs are simply dreadful. And we may never know why. But the victory comes in going back out there again next time … with a vengeance.

And although this run was ridiculously rotten, I don’t regret it at all. Ugly miles are still miles. Even the worst run counts, and getting it done brings its own reward.

Adapted from public domain photo

Feel free to follow on Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well. And I am happy to share my RUNDERDOG ambassador code for 10% off on Bondi Band Athletic Headbands, Accessories, and Fashions. (Simply enter the code at online checkout.).


Power Play: 15 reasons runners often run faster in races than training runs

Do you run swifter in a race than an everyday training run? If you do, you’re not alone. Most of us cover the ground considerably faster in an actual event than during a training run.

Why are we speedier in running races?

There may be dozens of reasons we tend to dash speedier when we participate in specified 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, marathons, triathlons, or other popular events. Here are several possible explanations. Maybe you can think of more.

1) A little extra sleep goes a long way.

OK, some of us don’t sleep all that well the night before running a race. But most of us try to live gently and rest up, if possible, in the days leading up to such an event. That’s a big plus, once we cross the start line.

2) Runners eat carefully before races.

Let’s just say we try to consume familiar foods that are not likely to erupt or ignite issues along the way. You get the picture.

3)  Training kicks in on race day.

“Trust your training,” say scores of running professionals. Despite race-day nerves, which often crop up when it’s time to line up in race corrals (or at start lines), those who have put in the time and miles ahead of time will feel the difference.

4) Pre-race tapering prepares runners for swifter scampering.

If we follow our training plans (or listen to our fitness trainers, if we have them), we probably arrive at a race with fresh energy. Hopefully, that means we’re not showing up with overuse injuries too.

5)  A running race is a planned trip with a well-defined distance.

Sure, some race courses are not exactly measured out accurately. We all have stories of races that ran longer or shorter than they claimed to be. But generally, runners can predict the distance and the duration of a given event. We do all sorts of crazy, complicated mathematical calculations in our heads along the way. (Example: “In half a mile, I’ll have a 5K left to go.”) Those ideas are great motivators.

6) Runners draw bursts of power from enthusiastic race spectators.

Never mind the “You’re almost there” signs at mile 20 of a marathon. Most of the placards and encouraging cheers really do help runners to pour on the power when it’s most needed. Crowd appeal is worth plenty, even when it comes from total strangers. A random high-five, especially near the dreaded “wall,” can be just the ticket for a slowing runner. Let’s just say that doesn’t happen (and definitely shouldn’t happen) when a runner is alone on a secluded trail or jogging along a busy thoroughfare.

7) Closed roads open the door for faster running.

Traffic is tedious for runners in training. Even when we stay on the shoulder of a road, we have to pay attention (and maybe leap out of the way) for drivers who may not spot us. In closed-course races, we don’t have to beware of texting (or otherwise distracted) drivers.

8) Stoplights don’t count in races.

A red light at a traffic stop can take 60 to 90 seconds. Encountering multiple traffic lights (or just having to cross busy intersections) can add real time to a run. 

9) Groomed routes make way for swifter running.

Unless we’re darting through the woods, climbing over obstacles, or scaling rocky outcroppings in technical races, official race routes tend to offer smoother pathways for running. Of course, there’s always the occasional pothole, loose curb, or street debris to avoid.

10) Support stations make a world of difference.

Long-distance runners usually carry water and nutrition along for the trip. Energy gels, bars, or favorite crunchies keep us from crashing from caloric drops. But we still appreciate the enthusiasm and provisions offered at water/hydration and snack stops. (Let’s hear it for race volunteers!)

11) The fellowship of runners gets us going.

Running is competitive. We’re all trying to run farther and faster than we have before. Some want to win or place, beating others to the finish line. But mostly, we’re out there because we love fitness and the fun of running with others sharing the same passions. We salute those who finish well. We encourage those who are running through extra challenges of all sorts. We high-five total strangers. And it makes us keep going, even when we think we can’t.

12) Peer pressure prods us to persist.

How does a runner pick up the pace? Plenty of seasoned runners will advise beginners to try running with swifter folks. Inspiration and peer pressure challenge us to move our feet faster.

13) Adrenaline is amazing.

This is a real thing. We can’t help but be caught up in the momentum of a crowd of runners making their way together through a race route. Sure, there’s often amazing scenery to see, but the power of the pack grabs our focus and adds to our energy.

14) A PR is a powerful goal.

Chasing and conquering a personal record is something akin to slaying a dragon. Yes, that new individual record time becomes the new goal to beat, but it’s worth it to ring that (proverbial or real) PR bell at the end of the race.

15) It’s OK to go for broke on race day.

During the training process, runners pour on the power, but we also feel the need to save ourselves for the big day. We dread injuries that might sideline us. But on race day, we pull out all the stops. We give it all we’ve got. We shoot the wad. We spend the bank. We spout every “Finish well” cliché we’ve got.

And we get it done, even if we have to crumble at the end. That often means we run faster in the race than we have in the everyday training runs we’ve done to prepare for it.

Besides, who gets a medal for running a bunch of miles in training?

Adapted from public domain photo

Feel free to follow on Twitter. Please visit my Amazon author page as well. And I am happy to share my RUNDERDOG ambassador code for 10% off on Bondi Band Athletic Headbands, Accessories, and Fashions. (Simply enter the code at online checkout.).

Product photo by LAN/Runderdog
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