Knowing when to fold ’em

Some runners will tell you there’s no such thing as a bad run.  I think after today I would beg to differ.  Or at least, I would say that there is such a thing as a run that’s gone badly; but what you can take from it determines whether or not it was a bad run.

Today, my long run went rather badly. But I did learn some really good lessons from it so I’m not calling it a total loss.

My run was scuppered by three things.

1. I’m still not completely over the stomach bug I struggled with last week.

2. My legs were still tired and aching from Saturday’s workout, even with stretching and warming up. We did a lot of squats with heavier weights, including one move that made me cry with the pain of it (although I did all 3 sets of 10 reps, despite the tears!) plus a warm up and cool down on the bike.

3. I was trying out new shoes which, after about a mile, started to form a hot spot on my left foot.

Now, I’m happy to say that I covered the distance I was aiming for, 6 miles; but my LSR turned into an LSUW…a long, slow, uncomfortable walk home!

The real question is; what have I learned from this run gone badly?

1. I’m not going to be discouraged when I’m not at the top of my form when I go for a run. I’m not going to be angry with my body for letting me down, or beat myself up (mentally) for being sick.  I’ve been sick. It happens and it doesn’t mean I’m any less of a runner for it.  If I were going to wait until I was 100% before going for a run, I’d never go for a run because I’m never 100%! Who is, really?! So rather than be discouraged, I’m going to be thankful that I had the energy to get up and out the door; that I had the desire to go running and that I have a strong heart, mind and body to run with.

2. My trainer and I talked about the timing of my workouts before I started my marathon training programme, and we knew that doing a ‘leg day’ workout the day before my long run might cause problems. We agreed to at least try it out but that we’d be flexible in changing things around if I thought my LSR’s were suffering. So after today I am going to ask to switch. Saturdays will become the core/upper body workout and Monday’s will be leg days.  This means that I can do my LSR on a Sunday, rest for the afternoon and the next day do my leg workout on Monday evenings.  A rest day on Tuesday will give my legs plenty of time to recover before Wednesday’s short, hard run. The key lesson I’ve learned here is to be open minded enough to try something out, honest enough to know it’s not working and flexible enough to change it so that it does work.

3.As exciting as it is to get new shoes (more on that in an upcoming blog post!), a long run on tired legs probably isn’t the best time to try them out. I ended up with a hot spot in a awkward place (inner arch) that affected how I ran and eventually, how I walked.  I didn’t have to limp home, but I was walking on the outside edge of my foot to avoid causing more friction and hopefully avoid a blister forming. I found myself wishing that I had taken them for a walk first, or at least waited for a short run before trying them out. Although, on the other hand (foot?!) I’m glad I found this out sooner, rather than later!

After trying to run 3 miles I knew I would have to ‘fold ’em’ as it were. I just could not run any further so I decided I would walk the rest of the way. Having said that I will freely admit that as this point I wished I knew someone I could call to come pick me up and take me home.  I have no one to call however, I just grit my teeth, turned around and walked the 3 miles home.

But I didn’t want to completely write this run off, or get home and regret having done it. That way lies discouragement and disaster! So as I walked I thought about what had gone wrong, and what I could learn from it.  I’ve done this before, if you’ll recall my last ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run‘ I blogged about. I think it’s very useful to at least take some good from a run gone badly and today, I feel confident in what I’ve walked away with.

In fact, I’m already looking forward to my next run.

When is that ever a bad thing?


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