What Happens When A Run Goes Wrong
Four weeks ago I did my longest run yet, almost 6 miles, and I felt great. The following week something was totally different and I bonked. I had been dragging emotionally and physically the day before. Then I didn’t run at all during the week and my body got a good long recovery period. The week after that I did the same long run as two weeks prior and felt really good again. Mentally I kept telling myself “You’ve done this before already. You’ve got this.”
This week I only ran one short run Tuesday, but did do an elliptical workout Thurs and a hard yoga class Friday. I woke up unbelievably stiff and congested as usual but ready to go. Had a bottle of water and a Luna bar, hoping it was enough since I’d had a lot of caffeine and some alcohol the day before. The first ¾ of a mile were ok but I figured that once my muscles loosened up the run would get easier. Nope…I just started to sweat harder and had a terrible time breathing. I didn't think my nose was that congested by I didn’t feel like I was getting anything when I breathed through my nose. Before long my body just felt heavy as I struggled to get more oxygen to my legs. I was moving at a snail’s pace compared to my recent history and looking forward to my brief walking intervals spaced eight minutes apart.
After about 2.5 miles I felt so light-headed and was breathing so hard I felt like I had to walk. Being really light-headed is a sure sign of something going on and I’m not training for a race so there isn't a good reason to push it. It’s amazing what happens when I encounter a setback. My thoughts go very quickly from “it’s just a bad run today, blame dehydration or something” down the mental rabbit hole to “it’s only gonna get harder all summer, if I can’t do this now, I’m completely insane to think I can run a half marathon in the fall.” Thoughts like “who are you fooling? You’re not a runner.” And “you’re the same lazy teenager that was never good at sports” pop into my head. Big, fat lies. It’s amazing how words and labels given to me twenty years ago can be so fresh.
Fortunately I know who those lies come from. I've gotten pretty good at discerning truth from fiction designed to derail my efforts. So as I walked for much longer than I ever should have needed to, I prayed and a few new thoughts filled me. Suddenly I remembered hearing often that success and innovation and progress only come through being willing to fail sometimes. In the past I have tried to think of occasions when I really failed and learned from it and I was unable to. Well here was a perfect example…this run was a total failure in my mind. But I could learn from it and do better next time. I decided it’s time to get hydration I can carry with me on those runs. I need to not have a margarita the night before a long run. I need to stretch more so that one yoga class doesn't leave me so stiff.
So what matters is not that I failed. What matters is that I will quickly get back up again, lace up my sneakers again and try once more. Even if I keep failing, I'll keep trying, because I know deep down there is a successful runner somewhere in there and I'll find her.