I have had some pretty crappy runs recently, but last week I was getting back on track and hoping that I would eventually find myself running in “the zone” once again. Even though I’ve only been there two or three times, I want to go back and visit. So, it is usually on my mind right before a run. I’m thinking “Is today the day? Will running feel awesome instead of grueling?”
On Friday we had planned to increase our intervals to 3 x 18 minutes. Did that happen? Nope. Why not? Instead of running, I hung out with my husband and we went on a picnic in the park. I am embarrassed to say it, but I was so happy NOT running. We completely ditched our plan and didn’t run. I thought I would feel guilty about it while we picnicked, but not running was exactly what I wanted to do.
The guilt came on Saturday and pushed me to lace up and go out without any back-and-forth about whether or not I was motivated enough to run. Guilt is plenty of motivation, at least for me.
Despite the abysmal weather – hot, humid, and the stillest air imaginable – we started running. Funny enough, this is where my husband, who was running next to me the whole time, and I have very different experiences from the same run. He was super hot and bothered by the weather. Whereas I just powered through. He was a dripping, soaking mess and, well, so was I. When we were midway through the first interval of 17 minutes of running I asked him if he felt like ratcheting it up to 18. I got the fastest “no” in the history of marriage I think. He wasn’t feeling it. Getting through this run was going to be plenty satisfying (demanding) for him. I’ve been in that headspace more times than I can count so I didn’t question him and settled on doing a strong 17 instead of pushing 18.
In contrast to how my husband was dealing with the run, I was feeling good. I hate running in this sort of weather, but somewhere in the first interval I found the zone again. YEAH! I was going faster than normal, I was feeling stronger, I was kicking this run’s ass. It wasn’t until we stopped running to take our first 3-minute walking interval that I realized I was in the zone even with what I’m sure was easily the worst weather conditions we’ve run in all Summer.
We chit-chatted during the first walking interval and then picked up running again. I wondered if I would be able to re-enter the zone or if I’d been permanently deported. I was surprised that I was still in it during the second interval. Like nothing had happened. I was feeling so good that I didn’t even need to increase our second walking interval from 3 to 4 minutes as I had been making my husband do for the last week. I was drenched in sweat, but I didn’t need that extra minute of walking to feel like I could do the last running interval.
I finally kept up with my husband the entirety of the last interval. Normally, I fall back a little because he can maintain the pace and I can’t, but this run I stuck with him the whole time. As the final minute approached its end I asked my husband if he felt like adding an extra minute to our last interval. Again, I got another quick and definitive “no” from him. I asked if he minded if I went on an extra minute and I was off. Somewhere in me there was a little built up energy waiting to get out. I finished strong and, finally, not slow even though mother nature made it exponentially difficult.
I really credit the 2-day break from running. I was rested, and happy. I also didn’t walk but 1 hour and 15 minutes that day instead of my typical 2+ hours so my legs were not feeling fatigued yet. My preference is to run every other day so hopefully that 2-day break won’t become the norm, but I’m slowly figuring out what I need to do to have a good run. Reducing that day’s walking is obviously part of it. I have also realized that I must eat well on a run day. Otherwise, I get hungry mid-run and a rumbly stomach is a run-killer for me. I also think I need the energy from food to have a good run. So, I’m learning to be more mindful on run days in just about every way. Hopefully, I can stick to this for tonight’s run when we will definitely increase our intervals to 18 minutes of running.
What do you need to do to have a good run?