The Misery of the Midweek Middle Distance Runner

Well the theory of 'there is not such thing as a bad run takes a bit more of a bashing:

Yesterday I set forth for a short tempo run in the lashing rain. Apart from the very disappointing performance of my "lightweight rain jacket" which rapidly turned into a clingy sponge, the rain itself did not bother me over much, was quite good to keep me cool during my exertions in fact. But the run itself... O woe! I took a minute/km off my normal pace so was running 5.29/km. At first this was quite tough work trying to find some kind of heart/lungs compromise that would support this speed, but after the first couple of km it became sheer torture on legs. I felt like I was gargling napalm. I was instantly transported back to the early weeks of the programme when I was still a ponderous fatty wheezing along. By the time I got back on my 5k loop I had dropped to 5.40 and was still gaspng fire. This was a forcible reminder of a.) how little I like running fast(er) and b.) how much more I need to concentrate on my speedwork.

This morning, however, dawned bright and clear. A fairly grim pre-school/breakfast of everyone arfuing and shouting everyone else meat I was just in the right mood to go and clear my head on a trial run through the woods to Somerton. My trail route is quite technical - lots of elevation, lots of mud, lots of jumping over grnarled tree roots, charging up and down little gullies, so there is no question of going for speed per se, it is just pure exhilaration and enjoyment of the great outdoors, particularly when the weather is good, which today was perfect.

The run, alas, was not. Nothing went right at all. I couldn't settle into any kind of breathing rhythm for a good half an hour. I went over on my ankles half a dozen times and properly tripped and sent myself sprawling twice. I got brambles in my face, my feet soaked within the first km. Despite the glorious day and stunning views every now and then, there was not an ounce of "Hello birds, hello sky!" in me. I snarled at squirrels that darted across my path, and at one point, catching sight of some deer through the trees, promptly slipped in a pile of their poo. My Mojo had well and truly deserted me and I did not enjoy a singe moment of it. I forced myself to keep going, mainly out of sheer bloody mindedness and the knowledge that writing 'DNF' on my training calendar would only make my mood worse.

When I got to the end of the trail, atop a huge drop overlooking the countryside towards Yeovil, the sun was bathing everything a golden autumnal glow and I stopped and had a rest for a minute or two, did some stretches and tried to feel less curmudgeonly. Without much success. The looming return run filled me with nothing but gloom, but being a couple of hills and 4 miles away from the car there wasn't much option. To cut a long and tedious story short(ish) the way back was more of the same if slower and more careful. By this time everything was hurting. My feet, ankles, my bad knee was shrieking, thighs burning etc etc. To my surprise, when I got back to the car, my time was a lot quicker than I had expected. And after a bit of stretching and some water I discovered all the aches and pains that had plagued me had disappeared - I suspect they were almost entirely psycho-somatic: I had decided I wa having a miserable run so my body pitched in to add to my wallowing.

Home again and fortified with a guacamole sandwich and coffee before heading out to work, I feel oddly deflated by the whole thing. Logically I know it makes no sense. I ran a good distance at a pretty decent pace over challenging terrain. I am getting my miles in for the week. I am not injured. Yet still I feel as gloomy as I did elated after Saturday's run.

It is a fickle mistress this running business.

8 Replies

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  • Sounds like trail running is not a brilliant idea after a wet day! Perhaps stick to the paths/roads until we get a bit of a dry spell or a decent frost! I know you're in training, but you are supposed to enjoy this too aren't you? That sounded like torture.

  • Hi Ringold - my other half's family live in Somerton - we should meet up :-) that been doing a lot of interval and pyramid training to improve my speed and it's definitely helped :-) Failing that, some wonderful hills on those supposedly Somerset "levels" :-)

  • I know this was probably meant to be a serious post. However, that Camp Grenada tune has now lodged itself in my lugs as an ear worm :D

    Mind, IMHO, definitely always wins over matter so before the next go, take a (metaphorical) happy pill as you set out and just enjoy. Perhaps take a deer poo detector with you though.

    And I will try very hard to practice what I just preached :)

  • Some runs are just pants, others are sublime and others are just ok. We live for those ones where we feel so alive and satiated. Running is certainly a strange affair.

  • Hahaha :D :D I'm so sorry Rignold, I'm not laughing at you or your trials and tribulations on the trail. No, it's just that the phrase that sprung out at me from your post was "fortified by a guacamole sandwich" It made me laugh. It made me laugh, a lot. Sorry, I think I must have a weird sense of humour.

    As for your run, Sweetie, well you did it, you recovered well, you stuck with it and, as you said, you're not injured. Just a case of your head being in the wrong place, I guess. Better luck next time m'dear.

  • You pulled through, and that's the key, isn't it? So it wasn't as much fun today as some days, but you showed determination and grit and didn't let the run get the better of you. Respect for that!

    And here's to hoping next run will make up for it with loads of pleasantness and smiles :)

  • It sounds as if your head wasn't in the right place for this run but your body just carried on on automatic pilot.

    It's done, you did it, tick the box and look forward to the next run. Resilience rules!

  • Hey, you did it, and you don't get to write DNF. Hopefully the next one will be more Disney-like, with golden sunrises, cute, bounding deer, singing squirrels etc rather than real-life smelly Nature :D Well done for ploughing on, and I hope you enjoy the next run more.

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