One step forward …

The running gods are rebuking me for my cockiness earlier this week.

That’s what I was thinking last night, as I slogged up a long, gradual hill on Alaska Avenue NW during my first group run in who-knows-how-long.

I had intended for this easy 5-miler to be my first “long” run (it’s long for me, right now) ahead of the Marine Corps 10K in October, and was buoyed by the wonderfully ego-boosting runs I had over the weekend. Both were on the hilly, challenging 3.7-mile loop that goes from my house, down to Rock Creek Park, up Grubb Road, and finally up a long, ugly hill on East-West Highway. My perceived prowess on the hills made me get ahead of myself, imagining that it would be great to work up to long runs of 10-ish miles before the 10K, counting on the magic of overdistance to get me to the finish line.

Instead, I felt tired—marathon-tired, “why aren’t my legs working” tired—about two miles into last night’s route. I cut out early, and my Garmin confirmed what I already suspected: I had essentially run a slow 5K that just happened to feel like a long run.

Maybe someday, I’ll learn to moderate my emotions and expectations, and will be able to simply accept the conditions on the ground on any given day, equally ready for a plodding slog and a breakthrough sprint. Maybe I’ll learn to be a bit more realistic, too, and won’t schedule a “long” run just a few hours after hot yoga, and just a day or two after hard hill workouts (chair pose+hills=nothing left in the quads). For now, I’m just writing off last night’s run as a life lesson—and looking forward to a better one next time.

Ugly runs happen to the best of us. What kind of positive self-talk (or other strategies) do you use to get through yours?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “One step forward …

  1. Yuk. I haven’t had an ugly run in a while, but I remember the last one quite clearly. Lots of walk breaks and escaping into a Subway to, erm, assist my tummy. BLech. But I tell Thom, the ugly runs are important too, it means we appreciate and are able to have the lovely ones!

  2. Ack! Running after hot yoga, no good. Kind of like running after a massage, only you are also probably a tad dehydrated not to mention your muscles are worked over.

    On the other hand, you’re taking hot yoga! Yay! Can’t wait to hear about it.

    Also, I had a great pace run last Friday, and good runs all week last week, then had the ugliest pace run this Friday (same course as the week before) and the next day, a long run fail. So, it definitely happens. Perhaps it has to do with our expectations? Once we nail a run we tend to try kicking it into high gear the next one? I know I do that sometimes.

    Interestingly enough, Bikram yoga is teaching me to be more accepting of a “bad” run or yoga session, and to simply think of it as another day, rather than good or bad. I never thought I’d type those words!

    Bet your next run will feel good again.

  3. I think we all have those runs and I think it’s good that you can point to the reasons why it turned sour. Sometimes it’s more frustrating when you can’t figure out why it happened! When I’m really struggling I try to focus on shorter segments and tell myself I can walk (or stop) after a certain point. If I’m lucky I get to that point and set my sights on another point farther along in the run. Other times I do stop. 🙂 I think it’s important to accept the ugly run for what it is and not feel bad about it (something that is still hard for me).

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