I know that every runner has less-than-perfect runs and I can hardly complain. I so rarely have a run where I curse the act the entire time I'm out. I couldn't even tell you the last time I had a crappy run. I know why it happened, too. It's because I'm following a schedule now. The dreaded base building phase of training. I also couldn't even tell you the last time I did a base building phase...
My legs hate schedule. They much prefer to just act on a whim and head out when they feel like it (which, conveniently, is typically 3-4 times per week). Now that I am forcing them to hit the road or treadmill on a regulated schedule they are revolting against me. I'm learning that I can indeed get injured in the process. Fifteen years I went without so much as a case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which I now realize was just due to my youth and bodies ability to bounce back. Well, that, and I also never used to push myself the way I do now. My legs scream, "Fifty miles?! You want us to run how far?! You are such a jerk!" It's all new territory with all new aches and pains and stresses, but dang if it isn't the most fun I've had in my adult life!
I went for my scheduled 3-mile run on Christmas Eve, out in the suburbs, in my mom's neighborhood. It's snowed for the last week or so, and has been freezing (literally, below 0 on most days) so there's a nice layer of ice beneath the 2 feet of snow. On this evening though, it had 'warmed' quite a bit so I was excited to get my run in outside for a change. I headed for the path along the Fox River, but after about 100 yards or so someone clearly got bored with shoveling and just stopped altogether. It was like single-track...in heavy, wet snow...which sucked. So I turned around and decided I'd take to the streets instead. I wove my way through the neighborhood, running through slush and thick snow in some areas to avoid cars, but it was otherwise really nice (and felt good on my knees). The wind, though, was wicked. It cut straight through my three layers and went right for the bone. It was a wicked chill and it hurt to breath at times because it was so piercing. My eyes watered the entire time! I got a little turned around since it was getting dark so quick and I didn't have my glasses on, so I ended up doing 3.5 miles instead. All in all, a good run I'd say.
Today, I would have preferred to have been smacked with a bag of bricks a few times than suffered through the run I had. I felt just fine going into it. Getting ready, I didn't really feel like going out for a run, but my schedule dictated that I get another 3-miler in. So, I suited up. The. Worst. Run. Ever. From the moment I took my first stride down Montrose, heading towards the path, to the moment I hit the 3-mile mark I begrudged the process. I never get like that. I always love my run, no matter what. But today was different. My shin muscles felt incredibly fatigued, not sore or painful, but really, really tired and worn out feeling.
I tried shaking it out, stretching, breathing differently, changing my stride a bit. Nothing worked. I was reduced to walking by the first mile. I glanced down at my GPS every 10 seconds to see how much longer I had. It was going soooooooooo sllllllloooooooowwwwwww. It felt like I was running in quicksand, literally. Kind of like one of those dreams where you're trying to run and you're moving your legs so fast but getting nowhere. It was so frustrating, but I kept reminding myself that it was just going to be a 'character-building run' to make myself feel better. That worked a little. At 1.5 I turned around to head home and I started bargaining. I'd run to a sign then walk for 5 seconds, run to a big tree then walk for a few strides, run hard for 10 seconds then walk for 10. It was brutal. I'm sure I was a sight for sore eyes! I wanted to crawl underneath the pavement and not come out, ever again. I was just shocked I was having such a horrible time trying to crank out 3 FREAKIN' MILES!
If only we could record the thoughts that roll through our minds during times like this, they would make for great fodder later on. My mind was working triple over-time, volleying between intense frustration towards the situation, gratefulness for even being able to walk, absolute disdain for the day, thrilled that I was so close to home, hating my legs, loving that I even attempted it all on such a fantastically disgusting day. Home sweet home.
I didn't beat myself up about it once I got home, though. I foam rolled and iced while catching up on some shows in my DVR, then took a nice nap :)
I suppose I'm glad I had a bad run, I think I needed it. Just a little reminder that it could certainly be a lot worse. Hopefully, things go a little better tomorrow!
“Tough times are there so you can have a good time later on-- and really appreciate it!” ~Unknown