Running isn’t the easiest thing in the world: mile repeats, hill work, stretching, tempo runs, long runs, nutrition, road runs, physio, cross-training, heart rate zone, weather, trail runs…the list goes on and on. We wouldn’t be looked at like we have three heads by some people if running was as easy as eating a piece of cake. So what about the aforementioned tough stuff? How do we overcome it?
You might not gain any solace in my post because I’m a strong believer IN the tough stuff. If it wasn’t hard, you wouldn’t want to improve so much and the satisfaction of lowering your PR would feel like you had just gotten dressed in the morning. Big whoop, right? It’s those runs that you despise that build the experience base and prepare you to face the situation again, better equipped both mentally and physically.
Don’t get me wrong, when I’ve had a bad run I don’t think, “That will be character building!” No, I go over it in my head because I want to improve just as everyone else would. I also hate hearing when friends have crappy runs and I want to help them out, too, so I’m not that crazy. 😉
Of course, sometimes this mind frame of battling through the tough runs will get you into trouble. If your experiencing symptoms of dehydration, heat stroke, or just begging for an injury to worsen, it is just not worth it.
Here are some of my tips for those not-so-stellar runs:
1. Know what you are up against. Ex: If you’re going out for mile repeats, expect that your lungs will burn and you’ll just want the track to magically shorten. Know that if you feel super dizzy like you’ll pass out that you probably need to tone it down.
2. Mindframe. A lot of running is a mind over matter issue and a mantra can help if stuck in this tailspin. Keep Going: If you’re feeling down on yourself. Stop: if you’re beating yourself up because your shins have been on fire for the past 7 miles.
3. Training. Everyone has a different way to prepare for things. If you find you HATE hills in races or fade out in rainy runs, add them to your training log. Of course, for a little while they’ll probably be crappy runs but when the improvement comes, you’ll be thrilled!
4. Tracking. LOG YOUR RUNS and be willing to tweak things. Whether it be on paper, a spreed-sheet, or a blog. This will give you concrete numbers and you can analyze it for patterns.
5. Support. Even if you usually run solo it’s good to befriend a few runners so you can get fresh ideas and mull over a crappy run with (yes, RBF’s count!) Likewise, be willing to give support, what is easy for you could be treacherous for someone else.
6. Research. There are some great resources out there: books, magazines, and people to talk to. The more knowledge you gain the more confident you’ll feel.
7. Motivation. Set a goal and a reward for when you reach it.
Now, get out there and tackle that tough beast of yours! Then you may eat your cake.