Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Runner

Oh My

Dead Feet

So Tired

Sunday’s Long Run (2/06/11)

At the risk of sounding like a crazy lady, I’ll tell you that I talk to myself a lot during runs.  I become my own cheerleader, and sometimes, I swear, it is the only way I get through a long run.  I say things like

Keep it up!

Nice job.

Relax.  Just breathe.


You’re doing great.

And this Sunday I said to myself

You’re a super runner!

in honor of the Super Bowl of course.  Not that I watched the Super Bowl, but I hear that Green Bay won.  Hip hip for the Packers!

This long run, the second of the 90-minute pair, was hard in a strange way.  I never really hit my stride where the running felt easier and more natural.  I was struggling the whole time, but the struggle changed throughout the run.  First my breathing wasn’t quite intense enough to keep up with my legs.  Then I developed a persistent stitch in my side that bothered me for most of the run.  Then my legs started to tighten up, and of course my left knee started talking to me.  I just felt like I couldn’t relax into the run the way that I usually can, especially during long runs when relaxation is the key to a good run.

So the run wasn’t so great.  It happens.  It’s over now.  There is a bright side to this story: I believe that it’s during the hard runs, the runs that push us into our discomfort zone, that we are building our endurance.  It’s when it hurts (mentally or physically) that you become stronger and more able to tackle the next run.  I’m not talking about running through an injury, or running yourself ragged.  Instead, I’m referring more to a certain discomfort that one might call pain, but it’s more like soreness or exhaustion.  I’ve had running injuries before, so I believe I can tell the difference between a pain that can be handled as part of distance running versus a pain that’s telling you something is very, very wrong.

When I’m feeling uncomfortable during a run, I ask myself: is this my body saying it’s tired?  Or is this an injury that’s going to put me on the sidelines?  If my body is tired, I keep going to build my endurance.  If I don’t feel tired but it really hurts, then I back off and assess the situation.

The best part of my long run days is the lunch I eat afterward.  This time, it was leftover pizza and Moroccan Carrot and Tomato Soup.  This time, I threw a couple handfuls of spinach into my soup to add some green stuff to it.  The garnish on top in the picture below is a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro leaves.

A Good Lunch

Dear readers, do you have any tricks to make it through the difficult runs?  What do you do to keep yourself going when the going gets tough?


  1. You are so right about this. Being able to accept discomfort is a HUGE part of running -- for speed or for distance -- as far as I can tell, anyway. The "new miles" and the new speeds are going to be uncomfortable, which can be a good thing.

    I read _The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer_ when I was doing my first half, and it had some incredibly helpful tips for this sort of thing, including positive visualizations (playing a "tape" of a past good run; visualizing the race finish), mantras ("I am a marathoner; I always finish strong; I complete all my runs" et cetera -- I like just the word "easy" sometimes) and more. The authors get into the psychology of it and I found it fascinating. Recommended!

  2. Kate, I love that mantra about finishing strong! I say that to myself too because at the end of a hard run, just about the only way to finish strong is to talk yourself into it :-) I too find the psychology of running and challenging ourselves fascinating, so this book sounds like my kind of read. Thank you for the recommendation!

  3. You're not a crazy lady. I used to scream at myself, "Who do you want to be?!" When I wanted to give up, basically asking myself, Do you want to be a quitter? Or someone who is tough as hell and doesn't give up?

    If you're crazy, then I'm crazy.

  4. Maura, we're tough AND crazy! You've got an inner drill sergeant leading you through your work-outs. And if I were training for a marathon, I'd ask to borrow that drill sergeant :-)