I think there’s a misconception that at some point in every person’s running career that bad runs stop happening. That on some mythical day, running stops being painful, stops being arduous and hard, and becomes fun. That it becomes easy.
The reason that’s a misconception is because it’s simply not true. Running never stops being painful. Running never stops being hard.
It’s just that some days, some runs, are easier and less painful than others. And some other runs are terrible, awful, ridiculously malign creatures created to make our lives miserable.
I just had a week of the latter kind of run. And you know what I did to beat em?
I kept running.
Keeping It Up
As of right now, I’m riding a 57 day #runstreak. That means I have run at least a mile every day for the past 57 days.
Some days are easy. Some days are hard. Some days are quick, and some days are slow.
But each day, I put my shoes on, and I run.
For the past couple of weeks, though, running has been hard. Really hard. My legs have been tired, my head has been foggy, and my body just has not been dealing well with the stress of pounding the pavement.
10k is my favorite distance, but lately, it’s been hard to even get there–let alone beyond it for my long runs. 5k is what I use for speed work, but 3.1 miles is too long and daunting to run quickly.
Even the miles I do on “recovery” or “filler” days have slowed from 7ish minutes to 8+.
I feel every step of every run. I haven’t been able to zone out. I haven’t been able to reach that wonderfully zen place where I just go and feel the wind on my face and the ground beneath my feet.
Instead, I have consciously put one foot in front of the other thousands of times instead of being able to engage autopilot.
Until yesterday. Yesterday, I went out the door with no expectations, and I ran. I didn’t know where I would end up or how long it would take me or how many miles I would cover. I decided just to run and see what happened.
I ran 8 miles, the longest distance since I hurt myself after my half-marathon.
And, it was the fastest 6-10 miler I’ve ever done. I felt fantastic during and after the run. It was awesome. It felt like coming home.
So What Happened?
I let go. I ran through the difficulty. And I was willing to quit.
If yesterday’s run had been as terrible as the previous weeks’ had been, I was going to give up on my #runstreak. I would have chalked it up to overtraining on my part, running too much with too little recovery, and taken a few days of vacation from my Altras.
Instead, I got one of the most invigorating runs I’ve had in months.
All because I paid attention to my body. And my wife.
Jennifer is always telling me to make sure I eat and drink enough. Running every day is taxing on your body, and I’m burning a lot of calories, which means I’m always hungry.
Because I’m always hungry, I don’t always have the luxury of sating myself. That would take entirely too many calories.
But Jennifer rightly thinks I’m not taking in enough calories to begin with.
So the past couple of days, I’ve been gorging myself Hobbit-style.
Only instead of Second Breakfast, I started eating Second Supper. (I also started forcing myself to drink an additional 3 bottles of water a day, too.)
Lo and behold, eating those two corn dogs after having a full dinner worked. That meatball sub after I had polished off my sushi rolls? Divine energy straight from heaven.
I went out the door and ran 8 miles like I’d never hit the hard times to begin with. My legs weren’t tired, my head wasn’t foggy, and I was able to zone out and let muscle memory have its way with my feet.
It was awesome. I didn’t have to break my #runstreak. Through all the terribleness, I kept running. I pushed through the hard times to find the awesomeness on the other side.
I might not have. I might have had to quit running for a bit. And that would have been okay. But this time, I didn’t have to stop. This time, I kept running through the bad times until I found the good times again.
That’s what it means to be a runner. Running never gets any easier, guys. You just learn how to deal with it. You just keep on running.