Thursday, February 4, 2016

A "Bad" Run

Some days we just don't have it.  From what could be a combination of factors, we are unable to run how we would like to run. Perhaps we can't go fast enough, or far enough, or long enough. It's just not there. But I have also learned through experience a few things. First and foremost, it's ok. In fact it can be a blessing in disguise, since the particular run affords us the opportunity to look at our training with fresh eyes, and perhaps see either mistakes we may be making, or find aspects of our overall training that we can improve on. Second, if we run long enough we'll come to the realization many times over of the inevitability of having "bad" days. And can minimize and accept them as such.

This happened to me yesterday. My plan was to run 3 miles at an easier, warm-up pace, then run 25 minutes at a steady state pace somewhere around 6:40-6:45.  I must point out too, that I use the McMillan calculator on Coach Greg McMillan's website to calculate paces such as steady state to use in not only my own workouts, but of those I personally coach as well. Simply enter a recent race time like a 5k, and it will spit out pace ranges to run at for everything from 200 meter intervals to recovery runs.

For steady state runs (which as an approximation pace wise is what one would run if they raced all out between about 1 hour+ to 2 hours+) I find it a bit amusing that such pace is termed as "easy medium" on the chart. Since I have never found said pace range to be "easy medium" when attempting to run. Though one may argue that this could also be indicative of where my strengths and weaknesses lie as a runner. If I find such pace "harder" to sustain, then this type of running is a weakness for me; whereas I tend to be able to handle speed-work type paces a little better than the average competitive runner. As a good friend and runner once advised, always work on your weaknesses.

Yesterday was also an usually warm and humid morning for mid winter here in southeastern North Carolina as I set out to do my workout on the Copas Road loop by my Dad's house in Shallotte. I enjoy the 8.5 mile course, since a good bit of it winds through country roads which remind me somewhat of where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. (save for the absence of big hills).

After 3 miles at an 8+ minute per mile pace, I upped the tempo considerably as I began the steady state portion of the run. But I could tell a couple tenths of a mile later that the effort I was exerting as evidenced by my breathing, was not equating to a corresponding pace which I needed in order to do what I wanted to do. Or, it was too much harder than it should be to even get down under 7 minutes/ mile pace.

I did manage to gut out 2 miles at a hi 6:40s pace before I decided to amend the run. I have learned too, and have written about before, that some days we have to cut our losses and re-focus on making the best of the situation. It is better to get part of a work-out or run in, then to blow up in the face of adversities we feel we cannot overcome on a given day. In this case too, my soaked thru T-shirt was a clue that it was much more humid than I had anticipated, and I had made no effort to adjust accordingly. After a short rest and easy jog I added in 2x 1/2 mile at about 6:20 pace, with a 1/4 mile easy recovery jog in between. So all told, I still managed to get 3 harder paced miles in.

Of course there are days and workouts where it's essential that we do attempt to smash through the wall. This is something a bit intuitive, and subjective... and there are no definitives as to what days workouts fall into either category. Personally, I look at my own training holistically, and in relation to goals and /or upcoming races. As a general rule of thumb, I would be more apt to concede a workout such as yesterday when I have been running fairly well overall, and may be best benefitted by "saving it for another day."

Had a pleasant 5 mile run with my Dad the day before on the Brierwood Loop. It is good to see him running healthy, and enjoying getting out and getting some miles in. The last 2 days also served to remind me how lucky and fortunate I, and we are in the most primal and simplistic sense when we can lace up our shoes and head out the door. For every "bad" run is also a precious gift.

For I hope I never forget the times I would've seemingly given everything in this world for just one more chance to get outside and go for any run... no matter how fast, slow, long, short, good, or bad it may have ended up being.

Enjoy each day of this wonderful journey we are on my friends-