Friday, July 23, 2010

When It All Goes to Hell

The best runs can turn into your worst runs. I read recently in Runner's World that when you start to get better at running, you have more bad runs than not. Theoretically, this makes sense to me. When you start out running, it seems like you'll never be able to run a mile without walking and that averaging fifteen minutes a mile is something to be proud of. Once you are able to comfortably run a mile, you move on. You build stamina, muscle strength and a lactate threshold. Then a year later, you can average 9 min/miles for 10 miles.

But just because you can do something, doesn't mean you always should. AND just because you've done something once, doesn't mean you can always repeat it as often as you'd like. As a runner, I think it's hard to recognize progress. Forward progress is usually measured in seconds, and much like losing weight, initially the first few minutes come off pretty easily but the last few seconds can take years to lose. In a year, you can go from average 15 min/miles to 8:30s if you so choose, but if you want to go from 8:30s to 8:00s get ready for a long tumultuous journey down frustration path.

There are so many metaphors that come to mind, when trying to articulate this point but that is erroneous. I bring this all up because, much like many of my counterparts, I put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself to improve. Training is my time to do so, and I put a lot of emphasis on my long runs. Which, hey-I know can be detrimental-but it's what I do, so sue me.

Sunday, Goliath and I set out for twelve. Eek. Very proud of myself, I woke up early enough and fueled. All my long runs are suppose to be at 10:04/mile pace, but I see that and go pfffft that's so Julia2008 and shoot to push 9:00s. At our split, I felt fantastic. WOOOHOO Just ran six in 46! Then I made a mistake, I sat down on a bench. Took out my iphone, snapped a few pictures-where else do you think the pictures come from? When my two minutes were up, I went to move but neither of us wanted to go anywhere. I gave myself another two minutes, and before I knew it I'd been sitting on that bench long enough for someone to have run a mile.

Begrudgingly, I got up. Shook out my hammies and started out. Each half mile, I stopped. Evaluated. Walked a little and checked my pulse, and pace. For the run in me, I could not break this cycle. Finally, I started saying Okay, just run to the end of this song then you can walk so I would, and a new song would start and I'd say the same thing. Finally, about mile eight I got my groove back. I think I was a little intimidated by the mileage, I KNEW I could run six but double that? Meh...

Well, Stella got her groove-but someone didn't get the memo. Goliath and were trucking along, and we were about half a mile away from a water fountain when SPLAT! Someboddddy decided he wanted to play in the creek, and kinda forgot he was attached to me. Goliath jolted into the creek to my right, and I slipped down an embankment of mud and kerplunked flat on my back. ouch to the ego and to the back.

I swear I wear other shorts...these are just my fav.
So Yeah, I was soaking wet and covered in clay-like mud and boy was it AWESOME. My shoes were full, and it looked as if I had poopied myself. We jogged to the water fountain where I rinsed off my hands and ringed out my shirt. I splashed water on my face, but that seemed redundant. There really is no moral to this story, except that if you join your dog to be four-legged running machine make sure they remember that at all times.

Total Mileage: 12.05
Times: 2:27.33


Holly @ said...

Good for you for finishing though. I've had long runs like that too where if I would just keep going (aka NOT STOP AT ALL) I would be fine. But the first time I stop to walk (to drink or to stretch) its like my body just wants to stop all together.

Same reason I hate running laps -- when I get back to the starting point I just want to quit. But, if I run 6 miles away from home and have to run back, it feels easier, well, more do-able I suppose.

Keep at it. I love reading about your training.

Elizabeth said...

This post is just what I needed today. I was running my normal 4 mile loop yesterday and tripped over my own two feet. I spent most of this morning in urgent care and turns out, I sprained my wrist (making this hard to type) and am covered in bruises and scrapes. Surprisingly, I jogged most of the two miles back home. A few months ago I think I would have just given up.

Sometimes I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with running, but usually my worst runs inspire me to go back out and have a great one.

Well, that was an awful lot about me above! All that to say I love reading your blog and you inspire me to keep training for my 1/2 in October!

Julia said...

Holly-I HATE running laps, like forget it. Looping and laps are the bane of my running. I always do splits, or out an backs. Otherwise, the workout isn't getting done.

Elizabeth-I am so sorry to hear about your accident!Good for you finishing, despite the adversity. Hope your wrist, cuts and bruises heal!

Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin said...

That totally happens to me. If I stop one time I cannot get myself out of the "run until you reach the tree then you can walk" thing. It's so frustrating, but sometimes so hard not to stop the first time! But 12 miles, dang! That's impressive!