I’ve heard runners talking about having a ‘bad’ run. I’ve also heard runners say there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ run, that any run is a good one because you’re running.
And for the most part I agree. While I’ve struggled on some runs, and had some problems on others, just getting out for a run is a superb thing. But, there are times when things can go wrong on a run. There are times when a lot of things can go wrong on a run. And there are times when everything can go wrong on a run.
Today, I had one of those runs.
You might recall that I’m training for a 5 mile race in May and ‘the BIG one’ mini-marathon aka 10k run in June. So part of my training plan is to go for ‘long’ runs on Saturdays. Today I wanted to run 8km, and I was excited about it when I set off. But very early on I knew things were going wrong, and by the time I reached 3km I actually had to stop and sit down for a minute. By the time I got home it was 6km later and I wasn’t running, I was walking and desperate to get home and get it over with.
So what went wrong?
1. I went running earlier than I usually do so I was thrown by the change in my routine.
2. The streets were busier than I anticipated so I had to weave and dodge a lot, which made me nervous about getting injured.
3. I changed my route and so was unfamiliar with my surroundings; as I am a creature of habit this made me really uncomfortable.
4. The new route was more inclined than my usual route, it was a gradual, slow incline that I really struggled with.
5. My armband holding my phone (which I use to track my run) kept falling undone, I jumped a little each time it did.
6. My hair kept falling out of it’s usual bun, it threw my pace off having to keep reaching up to pin it back.
7. It was hotter out than it looked.
8. I overheated in my running clothes, of which only one item is actually made for running.
9. I felt dehydrated by the 3rd km.
10. Something happened early on in my run that really knocked my self-esteem and confidence.
I suppose as runs go it wasn’t a total disaster, I wasn’t injured or unable to get home; it was just really awkward and uncomfortable. But as I made my way home, alternating between running when I could and walking when I couldn’t run, I thought things over and decided I needed to learn from this run. Otherwise, how will I become a better runner?
So what have I learned?
1. Routine matters. If I’m going to run earlier in the day on weekends, I gotta get my act together and figure out my routine so I’m prepared.
2. Learning how to weave and dodge is good practice for what will be a crowded race in June. I need to embrace the tourist-choked streets!
3. Don’t be afraid of unfamiliarity. After all, it’s only unfamiliar the first time.
4. Change pace on the incline. Sure it was a long, gentle slope but I should have gone slower until I got used to it.
5. Make sure the armband velcro is working before setting off!
6. More hairpins!
7. Just because there’s a breeze, doesn’t mean it won’t be hot.
8. I definitely need summer running gear! I will go shopping for that in May and doing my research beforehand so I know what to look for.
9. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! This goes hand in hand with routine matters. I usually run in the evenings after work, so I’ve had a day to hydrate and drink down my usual 2 litres. Today I went at 3pm and had only had 500mL water in the morning. That is NOT enough to keep me going on a long run on a hot day! Stupid, stupid, stupid!!
10. The other thing that happened threw me for a loop, I need to learn to brush it off and not let it affect me. It has happened before and it will happen again, am I going to let it ruin my running? I’m stronger and better than that!
It’s not the run that defines me. It’s what I learn from it that tells me who I am.
This may have been a terrible, no good, very bad run, but as disappointing as it was, I’m still glad I went for it. Because when have I ever learned so many valuable lessons from a ‘good’ run?