Monday, June 13, 2016

When Running Sucks

Today I am having a running hangover. I cannot seem to shake what went down yesterday. So, I write this post here for the world to see instead of in my diary (who am I kidding? I don't have a diary).

Dear Diary, yesterday's 15 mile run SUCKED.

So, here's the thing. I've been moving along with my training for the TransRockies Run, feeling pretty strong, getting it done.

I should have known the day would come. It always does. It's the day that strips you of confidence and motivation. Where just like that your running is in the toilet. You are surprised and shocked. Maybe you cry and have a tantrum. You wonder - why do I even do this? That wasn't fun. It didn't make me feel good.

Then, if you are like me, you try to come up with a million reasons your run sucked. You are grasping at straws because there is no way it was just a bad run. There has to be a cause, a source.

I'm dehydrated
I drank too much last night
It's too hot
It's too cold
I'm constipated
I have diarrhea
I'm stressed
I'm over-trained
I'm under-trained
My shorts are chafing
I have a hairball I need to cough up

Whatever you think is the cause, it's probably not. Just as we have amazing runs and we are not sure why we felt so good and strong, we have horrible runs and don't know why we felt so crappy and weak. It is just what happens.

About yesterday's run: Well, I wanted to do the 15 miles on somewhat tired legs to prepare for my future. So, on Saturday I did a hard trail run of about 7 miles (see how I'm rationalizing why I crashed and burned?). Sunday, my friend Sylvie and I went up to Magnolia Road. If you live n Boulder and are a runner, you know "Mags". It is a 15 mile (7.5 out and 7.5 back) with about 1,600 feet of vertical gain. It has been the training spot for many Olympians and cross country teams.  Looks something like this:


You could call it pleasantly rolling hills, but I call it an asshole. Or, at least I did yesterday.

The run started okay enough. By mile two or so I was sucking air and my legs felt pretty dead. Sylvie, on the other hand, was dashing up hills. It was gorgeous scenery and it was fun being out there with her, but I could feel my mental and physical energy getting zapped.

I had those thoughts of: why do I think I can do this? Why do I feel so out of shape? Shit, I have the Leadville Marathon next weekend. I should probably drop out. All of this to say, that by the end I was doing the walk of shame to the car. Sylvie reminded me that this is what it is all about, pushing ourselves so that we can have successes even when it doesn't feel like it. That we do this to know we can do hard things.

Speaking of hard things (TWSS):

Saturday I will be doing this race:

It's a doozy. The winner in my old lady division (40-49) did it in 5 hours last year. I will be very lucky to come in around 6 hours.

I will certainly have moments (probably at mile 12 I will cry), but I'll just have to put one foot in front of the other. Relentless forward motion (RFM).

Remember: One ultra sucky day of running does not define you as a runner or as a person. RFM.

When was your last really bad run/race?



  1. Dear Suar,

    I had a very bad half marathon a few weeks ago and I just changed my training a bit. I did the distance but when I felt like walking I walked and when I could start running again I did. So I did not lose the trainingmiles but I just slowed down and I kept my mood. Within 2 weeks is my nextra HM race. I had a race last weekend and I could bear the difficulties through the race and achieve an acceptable result. So now my trust in my running abilities is back. I should not work harder but less.

    I love your blog. I read it in the Netherlands but I do not comment very often as my english is not so good and you get al lot comments always.

    I wish you the best for the races coming up. Bye bye, Dorothé

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  2. Yes! I can totally relate to this. I've had a string of bad runs lately where I just have no motivation, no energy and my pace leaves a lot to be desired. Hoping I can get my act back together quickly!

  3. During each marathon training cycle, without fail, I have at least:
    1 long run cut short due to GI distress
    1 long run that hurts way more than it should and takes a lot longer than it should
    1 glorious trip over my own feet
    1 really bad blister
    1 injured or strained hamstring/ITB/calf/something

    I've reached the place that when all those things finally happen, I start relaxing a little during the rest of my training. All the bad things are behind me, the race is going to be great! That's not always the case, but it helps to have something to console myself with. Those ultra sucky days have a way of sticking in our brains a lot longer than the fabulous ones.

    1. Can I add at least one run that I end up bonking? It's not pleasant but at least it's not a total surprise anymore.
      Oh and one run in the heat that makes me want to keel over.

  4. It's just a matter of acclimating to the heat Darling. You'll be good in the cool mountain air next week.

  5. I hate those streaks when you have a lot of these kind of runs. The truth is they happen to all of us and I maintain that pushing through them and not totally letting them defeat you makes us better runners. At least that's what I tell myself! -C

  6. I was on Vacation last week in Mendocino, Ca. where the weather was in the 50s where I was running 10+ easy miles many mornings. I came home to TX where it's in the 90's (70's in the wee AM) with lots of humidity, and I'm struggling to get eight miles and hating it. I know that it makes me a better runner to run in the heat, but it's a slog and I keep doing it. In the end, I just feel better for having gotten out there and done it. However, I need to keep thinking happy thoughts....right?

  7. I had one of those runs on Sunday (I wrote all about it) and had no excuses for it. No hills. No bad weather. Just life. You're right, one bad run does not define who you are. I had a ton of them during Big Sur fighting this damn PF. And then I had no runs! Ha! I still did the race. Just scaled back my goals. All good. And so fun.

    You're going to do just fine on Saturday.

  8. Gosh, your timing couldn't have been better. Thank you for sharing this.

    I ran Revel Rockies yesterday. Last year, I PRed there with a 3:48. Because of that, I thought it was the greatest race course in the world. And so I decided it would be my BQ goal race this year. My very first BQ. Back in May I ran Revel Mt. Charleston as a "trial run." Well, I BQ'd by far more than I expected - felt great and logged a 3:27 for my 42nd marathon. I was zapped for 2 weeks after the race. Kept my mileage low over the last 5 weeks leading up to Rockies. Thought I lost some endurance but maintained speed. I didn't know what to expect. Thought I would easily PR. At the worst, maybe run in the low 3:40s. I ended up running a 1:41 half, but blew up and walked most of the second half. I couldn't catch my breath. The course, while the same, felt much harder than last year. Something was very off. I ended up finishing in a very embarrassing (for me) and disappointing 3:59:05. I was supposed to fly back home to DC today (Mon) but switched my flight and went home yesterday instead. I was that upset. I questioned myself as a runner. Mediocre at best, what am I even doing? Why do I bother? I feel a little better today, but boy was I in a bad place yesterday. I was even curt with some friends at the finish line who asked me how I did. I know I'll have my chance at redemption and I think I just need to recover both physically and mentally before attempting the next goal.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience. It's comforting to know it happens even to more talented runners like yourself.

    1. Wow, what a story. Your story made ME feel a lot better. Just to know that you could run a 3:27 and still have a bad race. I feel there is much in both of our futures for redemption. Don't give up!!

  9. Some runs just plain suck without much explanation. I'm sure you'll be fine for your next one! I had a terrible run on Saturday. I set out from my house to do a mile, knowing it was probably a mistake to go from there because it's all roadside & I don't live somewhere that I feel great about running alone. But I wasn't going to drive 5+ miles to get to somewhere better and only do a mile. I wasn't far from the house when I started getting hassled by some idiots in a car, who actually stopped and waited for me to run past them. Because of that I was anxious & ran far too fast, so by the time I got to the end of the road I couldn't run and had to walk. I refused to just turn around and go home, so I run/walked the mile, but regretted leaving the house at all.

    Good luck with your marathon!

  10. RFM---an acronym that I can get on board with!!!!

  11. I performed terribly (for me) at Bay 2 Breakers last month. Under normal circumstances, I could run a race like that at a 7.5 minute / mile pace. Not fast, but comfortable. However, I was probably doing something like 10 minutes per mile because of a strain I suffered the week before.

    I almost decided not to run the race because of the injury, but did it anyway because it's an iconic race. I'm glad I did it. The crowds, bandits, costumes, and naked people were all great. The most fun / pain I've had in the same race!

  12. So down with the RFM acronym ;) I didn't realize you were going to TRR, but then again I am horrible at keeping up with the blogging world! Stoked to meet you.

    Suffering through what feels like 100 degree & 100% humidity here at sea level in SC (I'm probably only slightly exaggerating). Haven't died from heat stroke yet. Therefore, I feel like training is going well, lol. Hope your next run goes better!

    1. SUAR - I feel your pain. Sunday was a sucky run for me - bonked at 14, and walked the hills the rest of the way in. Sometimes you just ain't got it. My problem is weight - I'm carrying some excess baggage. Time to get serious with my eating habits, and cut out the caramels.

  13. This is PERFECT! Your last longish run before your marathon must be horrible, the crappier the better. It's very good luck! You will have a STELLAR marathon!!

  14. SUAR - as you have said before, at least you CAN go out and run. I am currently on the shelf (week #2) nursing a grade 1 hamstring strain.....right now I am jealous that you CAN have a bad run......sad face !!

    Rick-Halifax, NS

    1. Ok, yeah, you are right. I will shut up now. Feel better, that stinks!

  15. You have no idea how much I needed to read this post today! Thanks Beth!

  16. Running has been going well for me lately, but I keep in mind it comes and goes.
    Swimming has been a bit of a plateau lately, but I keep in mind it comes and goes.
    You struggled with one run. The struggle makes you stronger. And the walk of shame part, you didn't mention you pooped yourself, so it's only semi-shame at worst. Nobody else looking at you would know.

  17. I ran the Yellowstone Half this past weekend not really training at all. I endured a lot of walking. A year ago I had surgery on my foot and really thought I'd never do this again. Resintly loosing my mom a lot of loss and pain in my heart. By mile 11 I felt as I had her by me helping me along the way. When I got to 10 I knew we'd finish. I took all I could do to finish and all of me was weak at the knees. But I just shut upped and got it done! As you will do :) Best of luck with your run.

  18. Frequently, i still run without concerning on mile or anything. Simply, i think that running is good for health. It's amazing after reading your article. Thanks!

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  22. I hear you! A few weeks ago my friends invited me out for a long ride. I hadn't done a ride in about a month but usually I can deal (with some extra huffing and puffing). But this time I felt like hell and couldn't keep up AT ALL. When I got home I crawled into bed and felt like I wanted to die. Turned out I had the stomach flu! I'm just now getting up the courage to touch my bike again after all that suffering, haha.

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  24. date of Ragnar Snowmass Trail Relay ?

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