I should have known that when I left work late and was stuck in traffic that my evening run wasn’t going to be easy.
It was a gorgeous Tuesday in the Bay Area and we were experiencing higher than usual temperatures and I was looking forward to running that evening. When I got to the trail, I quickly started my run. It was warm and the sun was shining but something just didn’t feel right. I felt tense, my legs felt heavy and I couldn’t get into a comfortable rhythm. I tried to shake it off and reset my running. I had planned on doing 4 miles but didn’t feel confident it was going to happen with the way I was feeling. I decided to cut it short and instead do a 5K. Even running that distance felt impossible.
Maybe it was the warm weather or maybe it was my allergies that were bothering me. This run was TOUGH. When my Nike app announced my pace at the one mile marker, I was disappointed. I am normally much faster than this I thought. I quickly picked up my pace but still felt tired. My mind was consumed with other thoughts and I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like stopping but shook it off and prayed that my turnaround would come soon. Each step I took, my legs protested and my arms felt like weights at my side. I couldn’t believe that this run wasn’t going well as I had hoped.
When I reached the halfway point, I was relieved and just wanted to get this run over with. I quickened my pace and struggled to finish. My breathing was off and as luck would have it, a gnat flew into my mouth! Ugh! I spat it out and continued to go. Sweat was running down my face, my feet were dragging and my arms felt stiff. What else could go wrong?
I finally saw my “finish line” and told myself that this is the last mile of that half-marathon you’re going to do, so (wo)man up and finish STRONG. I looked straight ahead and with all the energy I could muster, I sprinted towards the posts. Then I saw something laying across the trail. WTF?! It looked like a branch and as I got closer, I saw that it was a SNAKE! OMG! I didn’t want to startle it so I jumped off to the side of the trail and got out of the way. What a way to finish a run!
As I cooled down, I stopped my watch and looked at it. Disappointed? Yes. Defeated? Never.
What was supposed to be an “easy” run for me turned out to be one of the hardest ones ever. I know not all runs are going to be perfect and Tuesday’s was no exception. I looked at it as a learning lesson for my future runs and came up with a few pointers:
1) Always stretch before a run. I am so anxious to get my run started that I hardly stretch. Yes, I know this is a bad habit and probably played a factor.
2) Don’t start off too fast. Maybe I was too excited to start running or just wanted to finish quickly but I started off too fast and found myself tiring quickly.
3) Learn to relax. My mind was consumed with other thoughts and I just couldn’t focus on my run. I need to clear my mind and just enjoy the run.
4) Hydrate properly. It was a late afternoon run but it was still in the 80s. I probably should have consumed some water so I didn’t feel thirsty during my run.
5) Acceptance. Not all runs will leave me feeling that magical Runner’s High. Embrace every run whether it’s a tough one or an easy one. Be thankful that I am healthy and able to run no matter what.
Have you ever had a bad run? How did you overcome it?
See you at the finish line!