I’m currently writing this after having absolutely sucked up a run.
I set out with a goal in mind. I was going to get one last 5k in before a scheduled race, aiming for a time under 32 minutes (ideally around 31:30, if I’m being completely honest). It was one of my Hogwarts Running Club races, and I wanted to complete it on the suggested day even though there was no hard and fast rule about that. It was Wednesday, and I had two pretty tough Orangetheory classes on Monday and Tuesday. My legs were like lead. I stretched after my warm-up walk to the park, but it was clearly insufficient.
I ran down the first hill and I knew pretty quickly that I was going to be slow. At the first mile, my Nike Running Club app told me that my first mile was at a 10:12 pace. My first mile of this course is always my fastest because of this huge downhill that I always catch a ton of speed on.
If I was at 10:12 and struggling as much as I was, I was in trouble.
Over the next half mile, I felt my body slow. It was hot. I had a side stitch that kept coming and going. There was wind that felt like it was sucking the air from my lungs. When I hit 1.55 miles and was turning around to head back for my loop, I decided I had to stop to walk. My pace was inching closer to 12 minutes and I just didn’t have it in me.
As I was walking, I let myself feel angry for a bit. I was expecting to go out and crush this, like I had my most recent runs on this path. I spent half a mile trying to determine all of the reasons why I performed so poorly.
Here are some of the reasons I performed poorly:
- I consumed less water than usual by this point in the day. I normally drink upwards of a gallon or more per day. I will routinely have consumed around 80 ounces by the time I leave work–but I was about 20 ounces behind that on this day. Even though I drank 27 ounces before I went out for my run, bringing my total to 87 by around 5 pm… this is still 20 ounces behind my usual hydration level.
- I was on my second day of a reduced calorie intake. I spent most of the month of April eating at maintenance after cutting January through March. I took a maintenance break while I was going through some medical things, but at this point I had about 10 pounds of body fat I still wanted to cut. Being only 2 days into a cut, even when eating appropriate macros and good, healthy foods, can sap your energy.
- The weather. It was hot. It was humid. The wind was rough.
- My body was fatigued from two super tough Orangetheory workouts. There were an absurd number of lunges in those workouts. My hamstrings were tight. I struggled during them, as well! I remember having to cut my treadmill paces and pause during the ridiculous amount of lunges. I even bailed during some shoulder presses because my body just felt so fatigued.
- I’m a human being, and I’m imperfect, and some days are just going to be “off days.”
Let’s be honest, it was probably some combination of all of those factors, with a huge, whopping emphasis on number 5. Probably even some other factors I hadn’t considered thrown in the mix.
I spent a good chunk of time walking and ruminating over all of these things, and basically talking very poorly to myself in my head. Then I remembered some advice I had recently given a friend who had told me she was bumming about her own poor performance:
It is perfectly valid to be disappointed when you perform poorly. You should absolutely allow yourself to feel that way. But as soon as you no longer wish to be upset–stop. Don’t dwell. Dwelling on negative feelings does nothing but break your spirit. However, it is important to take the time to acknowledge negative emotions. If anything, remember how it felt to want to do better and use that as motivation during a tough outing in the future. You know you can do better, and being upset at you performance is proof to yourself that you care and are motivated to improve.
I told several people an iteration of this same thing multiple times over the day or two leading up to this run, but for some reason I was having trouble remembering it as I walked my way through the park, dejected over my inability to run 3 miles in this moment. I don’t know why I’m so bad at taking my own advice, but thankfully I was able to remember it and remind myself that one bad run does not reflect upon my level of fitness–or, moreso, who I am as a person. Okay, so I had to stop to walk. I still ran a mile and a half, and I was walking at that moment. Walking is not inferior to running. Running slowly is not inferior to running faster. This workout was not “bad” because it did not live up to the goal I set for it. I was still challenging my body, and by doing so I was making myself better.
How did I finish the workout? Well, a song I love came on (Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like”, don’t even judge me), and I decided to jog again. When the song ended, my legs still felt like lead and I walked again. After another song, I decided to try to jog for one more song, so I did. Then I was back at the bottom of the big hill and I knew my tired legs couldn’t run up it, so I told myself it was OK to walk up the hill. And I did. I was disappointed that I took about 7 and half minutes longer to complete my 5k than I had set out, but I completed it.
Final Time: 38:16.