(Post republished from previous blog www.ironzoom.com)
I’ve been meaning to sit and write about one of the worst runs I can remember ever doing for a few weeks now since it happened; but apparently “life” got in the way…
A few weeks ago my training plan called for a 90 minute zone 1 run on Thursday then a 120 minute run on Friday which included a 45 minute zone 2 push to finish it off. No big deal…or so I thought.
I went out Thursday night and banged out the 90 minute run with ease, body felt great, legs felt great, and had a solid pace and good cadence. Came home, ate some dinner, rolled out, and went to bed early for my morning run. Friday morning came around and I got up 430-445 like usual for a long, pre-work morning run. Had a quick light breakfast and headed out the door about 515.
From the very first step out my door my body felt just beaten, broken, and beyond completely exhausted. This has happened a few other times on my long morning runs until the food kicks in and I wake up a bit (may take a mile or maybe even 2 to completely wake up), but never this bad. So I just kept dredging along expecting to wake up and feel better any minute. This was never to be. It felt like an actual death march for me. My normal Z1 pace is between 7:15-7:45 depending on how I feel…this day I was closer to 8:45s for the first 75 minutes. I ate some GU, I drank some water, but no matter what I tried nothing could shake the funk I was in. As I shuffled on I began to dread the last 45 minutes of the run…having to bump my HR up another 10 BPM to get into my Z2 for the final few miles home. I knew that I had very little energy left and even less desire to push myself any harder than I already was.
I began to think of some of the races I’ve done, and how at times I felt beaten, exhausted, and downright broken…then I started thinking about why I was out there on the Boston Marathon course; weeks before the race was to happen; hours before the sun would rise behind me lighting up (all to well) the plethora of hills that lie between me and my final destination, and most importantly what I wanted to accomplish on April 15th. I began to get a little choked up imagining the crowds that would line Comm Ave and then Beacon Street, and finally Boylston streets as I neared the end of what I can only imagine to be one of the greatest races I’ll ever run; my very first Boston Marathon. The one goal I have been working towards (whether I knew it or not at the time) since my very first run over 8 years ago.
I used this little mental picture to muster every last ounce of energy I had to get me up the hills and back home the final 45 minutes of my run…though it was by no means inspirational or pretty. My HR was at the very top of my Z2, if not over it…and it was slow. My normal Z2 pace is about 645-715, but I was lucky if I hit anything below 8min/mile at any point. I used every downhill just to catch my breath and coast/recover to have enough energy to physically make it home without walking. My average pace for the whole 2 hours was 8:36/mile, by far one of my slowest runs in a very long time.
It’s not even the pace that bothers me the most, in fact my recovery runs are usually at least that slow…it’s just how physically and mentally beaten I felt for every second of every minute of this particular run. It’s hard for me to describe in words just how miserable of a run it was, aside from the technical and HR info…what I can say, for certain though, is that these are the runs that stick with you. These are the runs that will get you through the toughest moments of any race. I know that having the physical and mental capacity to dig down into the very depths of myself and push through the hardest moments of any training run will absolutely make me a better athlete in the “long run” (<– see what I did there!)!
I’m sure everyone has heard these quotes, but I find them to be particularly applicable to this topic:
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” – Vince Lombardi
“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” – Ernest Hemingway
As athletes and runners (no mater how slow or fast) we all have bad runs and we all have bad races, it’s part of the game we play. However, the most important part of those bad runs/races is that we pick ourselves up and go out there and we do it again. We do this, not because we like to torture ourselves, and not because we’re crazy; but because there is nothing in the world we would rather do.