Sunday, April 7, 2013

5 Reasons Your Run Might Have Sucked Today

Not all runs are created equal. You could have gone out yesterday for six miles and felt like a stud – strong, swift, light. Then you could have gone out of the exact six miles today and felt like a piece of dog crap (that is the technical term) - weak, sluggish and heavy. Why the difference if it’s the same distance and same route?

1. You’re More Dehydrated Today – It doesn’t have to be hot as hell outside for you to feel the effects of dehydration. Even in the winter and springtime, you’ve got to make sure you’re drinking enough. The trick is not just to drink while running, but to start your run already hydrated. 

How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Instead of focusing on the number of ounces consumed, I like to go by this rule of thumb (or “rule of pee” as I like to call it) - make sure you urinate at least six times per day and that your piss looks like the lemonade that you get at a kid’s lemonade stand (very pale, watered down).

Don’t know how much to drink while you run? Check out these guidelines {source}:

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2. You’re More Stressed Today – Stress can really mess with you and zap all of your energy stores. When you are stressed, your body becomes WAY out of balance. This can lead to all sorts of physical and emotional conditions like headaches, GI distress, loss of appetite, racing thoughts, poor judgment, worrying, overeating, cheat pain and elevated blood pressure.

No wonder your run feels difficult – you are not only carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but your physical body is breaking down.

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This is me being stressed out (and ugly)

It is true that many/most of us use running as a means of relieving stress. And, it works. However, when we start our runs already very stressed out, our energy level and physical sensations may be gravely affected. Just be prepared.

3. You Didn’t Sleep Last Night – I am sure I don’t have to tell you how important sleep is. In fact, I wrote an article on the effects that lack of sleep has on running performance (view it HERE).

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This is me being tired and napping because I didn't sleep enough the night before

Basically, without proper sleep, your body doesn’t  recover as well from previous workouts. Your immune system can become compromised making your more susceptible to illness. And guess what? You simply FEEL MORE TIRED when you try to run (<I am so incredibly smart).

4. You Overindulged Last Night – I don’t know about you, but I run much better when I’ve paid attention to my my eating the night before and the hours leading up to my run. It’s not rocket science to know that your body has to work harder to digest fatty, heavy foods than it does leaner, lighter foods. Also, richer roods can lead to more stomach upset, which can absolutely cause you to feel sluggish during your run (and to maybe have to make more pit stops). Other items such as dairy-based foods, berries, chocolate and alcohol can also be difficult to digest and cause heartburn and acid reflux (and keep in mind that even healthy foods like broccoli and cabbage can lead to stomach distress/gas).

5. You Have a Bad Attitude Today– Let’s face it. Some days you just do not feel like being out there. That’s just human nature. However, it is amazing how quickly those negative thoughts affect your physical well being and immediately zap your energy.

The good news is that 97.6% of bad runs are followed by good runs (I made that up, but I am sure it is true). I think this is because the sucky run was so sucky that your expectations for the next run are LOW. Having low expectations can sometimes be a good thing because you are usually pleasantly surprised. The moral of the story is - don’t get discouraged. Some runs are just harder than others. Control what you can (sleep, hydration, fueling, attitude) and keep pushing on.

 

Have you had a rough run lately? What do you think contributed to it? Yes, this morning’s 10 mile run felt difficult the whole way. I was overly sore from a boot camp class, had eaten too much last night and was probably dehydrated. Plus, my attitude sucked.

SUAR

24 comments:

  1. Still trying to work my way back after an illness coupled with injury - so, in some respects, every run sucks (because they're hard and sometimes they really hurt injury-wise and that is super frustrating)... BUT in other respects, every run is awesome, because I'm freakin' grateful to be out there at all. In general, though, have definitely noticed that sleep plays a MASSIVE role. Sucky sleep = sucky run. Full stop.

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  2. The sleep monster, my arch enemy. I suck at sleeping; I am just not good at it. I think I am so used to what I call "sleep anxiety" that I don't notice its effects any more (but I am sure it is still affecting me). My bad run days are usually days where I have too much of a calorie deficit. Couple that with a hot day and I am in full meltdown mode.

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  3. My run "sucked" today in the traditional sense, but I was happy with it anyway. I PR'd last weekend on a race and took all this week off from running in order to recover - my hips were killing me. I ran a race today and knew from the getgo it was going to be awful, so I just decided to forget about any kind of goal at all, and I just ran for the atmosphere. It was really a nice feeling...not something I let myself do often!

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  4. Uh yeah, my 14 miler today SUCKED!! Could be that my husband's allergies are awful right now so I've been awake 3 nights in a row listening to him snore? Or that the past two days I've shoveled a boat-load of rock to make room to plant 10 trees (which, by the way, look amazing!)? Or that I went to see the Nuggets play last night, stayed out late, drank two huge beers and had french fries for dinner? Add all that up and I'm surprised I was able to finish 14 miles!

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    Replies
    1. You pretty much broke every rule on Beth's list! At least you were well hydrated :)

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  5. Yesterday's 5.86 miles in the afternoon sun sucked...I was running with a friend too...then I slept like 10 hours last night... It was also the first nice day we've had in a while, at around 55 f, and I was talking most of it, teaching her Galloway interval running and other nifty tidbits, and complaining about my kids' school's PTA (they suck, the selfish wenches), so maybe some bad attitude too. But what I find more discouraging is the run that seems like you're doing awesome, but when you look at the pace at the end, not so much.

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  6. My 5k race sucked Saturday because I'd done a 10-miler the evening before. The 10 miler was FABULOUS!

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  7. I ran 9 hard miles today. Not sure why it was so hard. Had a tough week...maybe that? I went out for dinner last night but ate fish. Had a few glasses of wine, no more than usual...I pushed through it but I hurt now. Yoga tomorrow!

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  8. True, true and more true. Some suck. They just do. And if you're me, you spend the whole sucky run trying to analyze what's off. I like to think shaking off a bad run is just part of the mind game of running.

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  9. I bailed at 11 miles on my planned 15 miler today. The weather was beautiful but hot. I spent last week on Spring Break in Costa Rica and got no running in. It was 30 degrees when I left home and now it's 70. I think the combination of the weather change and my week off made for a hard run.

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  10. My worst runs are when I mistake the sniffles for being a mild cold, when really I'm coming down with something worse. I've slogged through runs thinking I'm gonna shake off the illness, but wound up giving myself a fever and knocking myself out from work for a week. Whoops!

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  11. I did 8 on the treadmill today and my legs protested the entire time and I wished I was done. I was probably just still exhausted from a very long day yesterday. It was a rest day in terms of working out, but we had a full day with soccer, my 3 year old's bday party, and some other stuff squished in there. I'm hoping for a good run tomorrow. Sprints on the agenda. :/

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  12. Sleep: eight hours, at least. Nine or more is better.

    Hydration: beer works really well.

    Fueling: lots of stuff that goes well with beer. Like pizza. Pepperoni and extra cheese recommended.

    Attitude: It's everything. Bad attitude, bad run.

    Keep pushing on: Wear headphones and listen to Curtis Mayfield's "Keep On Pushing". It's damn near impossible to have a bad run if you listen to almost anything by Curtis Mayfield or The Impressions.

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  14. I had one of those runs last weekend...all of those things applied to me for sure. This weekend, much better, not 100% but getting there.

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  15. "racing thoughts"... nice pun :-)

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  16. I had one of those yesterday. Ran a great 10 miles on Saturday and then was supposed to do 18 Sunday. The first 9 were fine, although my knee was a bit sore. The last 9 sucked...my knee was awful so I only ended up with 17.5...and the last 8.5 were terribly slow! May need to rethink my running schedule. Apparently 28 in 2 days doesn't work so well for me right now. So frustrating!!!

    I suppose these bad runs make us appreciate the good, but I would really love it if every run was amazing!

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  17. That last paragraph reminded me of one of my favorite life quotes that I sometimes have to recite to myself when I forget about the influence of my own attitude on life.

    “The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations; those are pretty good days” – Ray Wiley Hubbard.

    I’m pretty sure you could substitute “runs” for “days” and it would still be true.

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  18. My hubby and I decided Saturday night to each order a meal we'd both enjoy and then we'd be able to have half of each. So, I don't know if it's possible, but it sure felt like the chicken fried steak was down one leg while the burger went down the other. Heavy, heavy legs.

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  19. My most recent sucky run was last week. An "easy" five-miler" during my lunch break at work. It seems that I needed the lunch more than the run. At 3 miles out I realized I was starving, at at 3.8 miles I bonked completely. I literally could not run any more, and contemplated calling someone at the office to come pick me up. I ended up walk/jogging back and was myself again after a giant sandwich and some chips. Lesson--always keep a gel tucked in the pocket of my water bottle holder. I have never needed one on a short run like that, but now I know....

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  20. So funny to read this today, I just finished a crummy run earlier this morning. And it was one of those that was bad for pretty much no reason - a bit of a pain in my hamstring is what I'm chalking it up to.

    All I saw in the picture of you "stressed" was your awesome buff arms!!

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    Replies
    1. Agreed! I envy your arms...ok and legs, too! :)

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  21. oh stress you sneaky little bastard...I'm supposed to run to get rid of you and now you are messing with my runs! :) Actually I know this is so true, partly I think it goes with point number 5

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  22. I'm always amazed at what a science running can be. Sometimes it feels like the stars and moon have to somehow perfectly align to have that wonderful run. This is a great post, and all of your points are right on. Running isn't just about running. It's also about everything else we do when we're not running that affects those runs. I often alternate with feeling good and feeling lousy. This is a great reminder to focus on the things that can lead to triumph or just plain crap. xo

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