Thursday, May 21, 2009

Short Runs Can Still Be Hard!

Today I finally learned what runners are talking about when they say their legs are "dead." Holy cow, was today's run tough!

When I went to bed last night, my body hurt. Just ached in my lower back, my hips, my knees. Getting into bed, I hoped that a good night's sleep would solve my soreness and I'd wake up fresh and ready to run.

Unfortunately, that was not exactly how it went. I managed to get myself into bed by 11, but wanted to read a couple of chapters of my book first. I was definitely tired, but it was a scary mystery that had me convinced I heard someone downstairs in the house. Yes, despite the fact I have a very loud alarm system. I thought maybe someone had hidden upstairs earlier in the day while the alarm was off - can you tell I have an active imagination? So after tossing and turning for a while, I finally got up and checked every nook and cranny. Nobody. So feeling much safer, I finally tried to fall back asleep and was successful.

At about 6:45 I was jolted awake for no good reason. I peeked out of my eye mask (which I'm wearing in lieu of room darkening shades), and saw how sunny it was, so then, I was up. But I was feeling very tired, and still pretty sore, so I started the mental debate.

Do I have to run today?
Well, maybe not. Maybe I could take the day off and run tomorrow. Ugh, but then I'd be running back to back with a long Saturday run. What if I took two days off? Hmm, that might be too long. Everyone's expecting me to run today. Okay, so I guess I have to run today.

Then: maybe I don't have to get up and run now!

Well, I probably do. It's supposed to be in the eighties today, and remember how it felt to run yesterday when it was so hot? Oh yeah, yucky. Besides, even though you're tired, you're already awake, so you might as well get up and run.

But I feel so blah.

How about a short run instead? (Yes, yes, I know this was supposed to be a "short" 40-minute run, but I mean shorter). What if I just did 2 miles instead? I can run 20 minutes, can't I? Sure, a 20-minute run might be fun.

Okay, so I finally got up.

Checking the temperature, it was about 50 degrees, so I put on my running tights instead of shorts. Mistake #1 - I should have checked the humidity. Made it feel like it was 70 instead of 50, so I was hot the whole time I was running.

I headed out and started running and that's when I figured out what other runners have meant by "dead legs." I can't really describe it other than to say I'd clearly pushed the muscles in my legs as far as they were prepared to go, and they felt like they stopped responding. Sweet.

But I kept going. My joints hurt as usual, and I tried telling myself that it was just a short run, only two miles. Ha ha, only two miles. I crack myself up.

With running over an 11-minute pace yesterday, I figured I should give myself 22 minutes of running to make sure I got in 2 miles. When I hit a half a mile though, I really thought I should have decided to run only a mile. But ten minutes of running seemed so short, so I kept pushing myself. I pushed myself to 9 minutes, 10 minutes, and finally 11 minutes before I turned around.

By this time, my body was really letting me know that it hated me. I kept thinking that the total time running was so much shorter today than usual, that I had to just keep going and finish. Honestly, I'm not sure how I managed it, other than "Let it Rock" coming on my headphones at the right time, but I managed to do 2.35 miles in 22:30 - that's a 9:34 pace! I was surprised that I managed such a fast pace on a two mile run - that's the quickest I've ever gone on a longer run (my fastest pace is 9:32 when I ran a mile a couple of months ago). So clearly, I was pushing myself harder this morning again. I'll admit to knowing I was doing it too, because despite how tired my body was, I knew I could keep up a faster pace on a shorter run, and I wanted to see how I could do. Of course, now, I feel as though I need a nap and I'm about ready to throw a party because I get a recovery day tomorrow.

Today, I'm still having trouble finding my motivation for longer runs. Coach J suggested bribing myself with brownies, but let's be honest, I would eat those things whether I run far or not. I have been bribing myself with cupcakes, as in "Just think, when you get home, you can eat a cupcake." But again, I'd probably eat the cupcakes whether I run or not. I had hoped that registering last week for the 10k would be solid motivation, because when I registered for my 5k's, I thought oh crap, I'd better make sure I run, and run far enough, so that I'm prepared. But this week, I just keep asking myself why the heck I registered for it at all! This week has got me wondering a lot of things: am I really cut out to be a distance runner? Do I just prefer to run 3-ish miles three days a week? Maybe I overextended myself with the goal of running the LBI race this year, and should just postpone it to next year? Why did I go from loving running to not really loving it in about two weeks' time? Why can't I seem to get past this 4.5 mile threshold?

Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely pleased that I went from not running at all - a literal couch potato - to running three to four days a week, 2-4.5 miles at a time in about three months. That's a great feeling. But I am struggling with finding a balance between maybe having to be satisfied with being a recreational runner, who competes in 5k's and runs 10 miles a week, but feels guilty/disappointed that I can't/didn't run in the 18-mile race and a marathon and maybe just seeing this as a bump in the road, a fly in my motivation ointment, which I'll look back on as something else I overcame in a few months' time. It's hard to know what the answers are.

So in the meantime, my plan is to train for my 10k as hard as I can, and then re-evaluate after that. Coach J thought I had come up with a crazy schedule this week (I always prefer when he thinks I'm pushing myself too hard, because then I can relax a little!), so even though he actually has a crazy schedule of workouts in preparation for the LP Ironman in July, I will be bugging him again to let me know what I should actually be running. And I will be hoping that this is just a bump in the road!


  1. you have to do the 18 miler....Skip and Doug want you to!!!:)

  2. I do this with every race. I train, I'm excited, then the race starts to approach and I get sick about it. I hear all the voices telling me I'm not "really" a runner or an athlete. I hear things like you don't "really" want this. . . this is someone else's dream. I remember how "nice and comfortable" life was before I started all this crazy committal training bunk.

    But I have to just PUSH thru. JUST focus on this ONE workout. ONE workout at a time.

    Also positive self talk is KEY, --saying out loud how GREAT it's going to be, "I'm accomplishing ALL my goals", I'm going to ROCK this run!!, and my new favorite: Go Speed Racer, GO!! :) (just know I hear the lazy voices too, gotta kick em out) ha ha

  3. Thanks Jannah - your comments were a huge help. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one that feels this way, and I forget so easily that I can look at it as one workout at a time. I look at the whole thing, and it's overwhelming! And I have been letting more of the negative thoughts seep in, without fighting them off with positive ones. So I'll work on those two things, and hopefully that will push me through!!

  4. Lindsay,

    I think it's great that you are still up-ing your difficulty level. I'm not right now --there are some good reasons (mainly that I'm supposed to be spending all my time getting my dissertation done and my defense prepared). But... I wanted to say... that even TEN minute runs can be useful...maybe not to someone running as fast or as much as you are... but for me... i realized I could a)justify a shorter run with the time crunch I'm in and not drop out of the race so to speak, and b) it actually seemed to keep my body in good shape (i mean that normally after getting 5hr or less I feel naucious and am useless for the day after getting very little sleep 4 nights in a row. And I have not been running daily (but did for four days in a row), so it was actually a good thing.

    This is from a non-race training perspective of course... but... I think the key is what you want to get out of it, and how well your running meets those needs.

    Happy running :)

  5. i do think my knees disliked the 4 strait days of running tho :(