I will continue to be surprised by how often running teaches me lessons. Despite being involved with this sport for more than a decade (<- that makes me feel old), I manage to learn and relearn things about running and life on an almost-weekly basis. Over the past four days, I learned one new lesson and I was reminded of two I’d learned before.
Old Lesson #1: To reap the rewards, you must sacrifice.
This one is obvious to anyone that has ever set a goal and started to work towards it. At some point, you will want to do something that conflicts with your goal and you will have to choose. This past weekend, I chose to stay out late drinking with my high school friends as part of an annual 4th of July celebration in my home town, and guess what? This didn’t bode well for my marathon training. (Shocking, I know.)
I managed to eke out 2 of the 6 miles on my Saturday run, but after ralphing at mile 1.5, it was all I could manage to make it back to my house. I was proud of myself for even getting my hungover butt out the door, but ultimately I was disappointed that I didn’t run all 6 miles. I could only blame myself, because I CHOSE not to make a sacrifice for my training. But do I regret it? No, because I had an amazing night with people I rarely get to see.
The way I see it, I either had to sacrifice time with my friends and have a good run, or I had to sacrifice the run and have a good time with my friends. This weekend, I made the right decision by choosing to socialize. BUT, this cannot happen again. One weekend of slacking won’t undo a month of hard work, but multiple weekends will. As the mileage increases, the sacrifices I will have to make to have good runs will build as well, and I have to keep in mind that I WANT to reap the rewards of solid training.
Old Lesson #2: If you want to run well in the summer, adopt the motto ‘the earlier the better’.
In college, I trained for a June half marathon in Seattle and an October half marathon in Denver. For both, I remember getting up at sunrise and doing most of my runs before I was even awake, because it was either that or die from the mid-day heat. As I mentioned in my previous post, running in the heat really doesn’t agree with me. Since not running isn’t an option, the clear solution was, and is again, to run as early as possible.
I find running close to sunrise, rather than running close to sunset, is better because the environment has all night to cool off, as opposed to just an hour or two. This also relates back to Old Lesson #1 because getting up at 6am (or earlier) means you have to go to bed earlier, and often the rest of the 20-something world is not on board with this. A few miserable runs in the heat, though, is enough to have reminded me that Old Lesson #2 is not to be forgotten again.
New Lesson: Missed miles are just that: missed. You either get them done as planned, or you just move on.
This one is probably the only controversial lesson of the three, and it’s okay if you have a differing opinion – this is my lesson. Since the 13-miler-turned-10-miler on Sunday, I had been ruminating over whether or not I should attempt to make up the miles I failed to run over the weekend, or just let them go. I did what any good millennial would do and I consulted the internet, trying to see if there was any consensus about making up miles.
While some people in online forums think that making up miles is better, the vast majority of articles and runners said that making up miles is a fast-track to injury. The thought behind this theory is that in order to make up missed miles, you will have to (most likely) cut into your recovery days, or spike up your weekly mileage. Since recovery days are just as important as workout days, and since all training plans increase mileage purposefully conservatively, you are asking for trouble by not respecting them. Even if your body withstands the physical demands, you may also experience some mental burnout.
I absolutely think that making up my 7 missed miles would have resulted in one of those two scenarios. I was feeling down about my two ‘failed’ runs this past weekend, but not giving myself a single rest day in the week would have made me feel like running was punishment. If I wanted to view running that way, I would have stuck with volleyball! Additionally, my IT band and my peroneal tendon have been recovering nicely, and I know my physical therapist would not be happy with me running 7 days in a row. Why put myself at risk of reinjury now?
Anyways, this lesson comes with the subtext that every run should be taken seriously, because you won’t get a second chance with it. I had to just accept that I wasn’t going to get in those 7 miles, but that I could make my runs great for the rest of the week. Here is the evidence that, at least for me, this lesson has some validity:
I was thinking about Lina a lot during this run because I really tried to run the first few miles faster than I wanted to, and I had her awesome post about pace running through my mind. If I want to run, say, a half marathon in 1:45, then I better actually run at that pace on a regular basis. I think these midweek runs are the perfect time to get comfortable with running a pace close to 8:00 min/mile (which is, in fact, the pace needed to run 1:45 in a half), and it was Lina that put this idea into my head. In her absence, I am keeping her with me in spirit. (MISS YOU LINA!)
I’m happy about this run because more than anything, it boosted my morale. When I wrote my previous post, I was feeling utterly bummed out about running and I was worried that somehow, I was regressing. (Gotta love irrationality, right?) Since that isn’t the case, I feel much more positive again. I just need to remember my lessons!