Not Forcing a Run

Not every run will be a run that you look forward to. Sometimes you dread them because the workout seems scary. Sometimes, you’re tired. Sometimes, you’re unmotivated.  Sometimes, something just feels off.

But you start, and sometimes you find that after a mile or two, when you warmed up, you feel better and you’re glad that you’re out running.

Sometimes you find that nothing, and I mean nothing, will make the run happen smoothly.

Unlike Ben, I’m not a morning lark. I don’t bounced out of bed at 5 am chirping, “It’s morning! Time to wake up!!!!” Yes, that’s literally Ben in the summer. I curl up with the blanket and close my eyes and pretend that daybreak hasn’t happened yet.

Neither am I a night owl. I don’t like staying up all night long after people have gone to sleep.

I’m a solid middle-of-the-day person. My best work happens between 10 am  and 2 pm. If I could do all my training during that time period, I would. Because of work, I generally try to run by 8 am or so. I just find it too hard to run at night after work, although I have done it a few times.

This morning because of a packed schedule, I decided to run on the treadmill at 7:30 am. You’d think a half hour wouldn’t make all that much difference, but somehow it did. My body just didn’t feel ready. It wasn’t that I was tired or that I needed to use the facilities. It just didn’t feel prepped to go. I moved sluggishly and my bronchitis acted up, so I was having difficulties breathing. A part of this might be that today is the first real warm day of the year.

My body, especially when related to running, reacts weirdly during the first warm week. My runs are all off. I feel terrible. Once I get acclimated to the heat, then things go back to normal (albeit with slower runs until cool weather returns).

After two miles, I called it quits. I felt terrible. It wasn’t getting any better. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t need to put in miles, so why go through all this? I wasn’t brave. I didn’t push myself. I quit.

Many years ago when I was more into powerlifting/weightlifting (SQUATZ!!!!), I followed various coaches. I remember one coach who said that if you’re properly working out, then 10-25% of your workouts should be “bad.” Sometimes a poor workout is attributable to a specific cause, such as sleep or nutrition, but a lot of the times it’s for no reason at all. He said we needed to learn to accept these bad workouts as being a part of the process.

12 thoughts on “Not Forcing a Run

  1. It’s interesting that our body rhythms are so different. I’ve learned (for the most part) when I am most productive mentally and physically and when not to push it, knowing it will end in frustration.

  2. I’m not a morning person either although I’m usually up around 7 for work and by 8 on weekends so some people would call that early. I’d love to be able to run around 10 am every day but as long as I have my job that’s not going to happen! I usually run after work, which during the summer is also the hottest part of the day here. Not the best timing for that, but it works best for me.

  3. This was good for me to read today. This morning’s run was the first in a long time where it was solidly HUMID out, and I just felt super sluggish. Maybe I could have eaten more too, but I do notice that humidity sucks the life out of me. I like that 10-25% stat – I’m going to remember that next time I feel crappy on a run.

    • I hate humidity worse than heat. Thirteen years out on the East Coast and you’d think I’d be used to it by now.

      The 10-25% is a useful frame of mind to remember so I don’t get bummed about a bad run. Obviously if I have more than 25% then something is wrong, but below that, I chalk it up to as “being a part of the process” and move on to the next run.

  4. This is me on EVERY morning run (which is almost none). I try to be at work by 8am which means if I’m going to run in the morning I have to do it around 5-6am, and my body pretty much always feels awful. I honestly don’t even know how I manage races. Probably all adrenaline.

    • Yeah, I definitely run better at races because of adrenaline. I can do one or two early runs once in a while, but I don’t make a habit of it. In the summer I have to run earlier to avoid the worst of the heat, but it’s helped by the fact that I work from home over the summer, so I’m not anxious about making sure I get it all done in time so I can leave for work.

  5. I totally get this. I love those runs where you aren’t feeling it and halfway through, you find that you are having an amazing run. I’m jealous of Ben. I wish I was a morning person. My girls are trying to train me to be, but I’m not quite ready. I’ve always said that if I could find a marathon that started mid-day, I think I could have the run of my life.

    • The only time I can rival Ben on early morningness is when I have jet lag and my circadian rhythm is offset. It’s an amazing feeling when it’s 9 am and you’ve already accomplished half a day’s work. Of course, I’m dead asleep by 5 then.

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