The Best and Worst of Running Times

October 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Running in the rain.

Running in the rain.

I often think about Charles Dickens’ famous quote, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” when I review my run log.  I did not anticipate the highs and lows of training for my half marathon, or how quickly I could move from one to the other.

To appreciate how wonderful my long run was on Sunday, it has to be placed in the context of Thursday’s run, which started on Wednesday.  Wednesday I can choose between cross training or a short run.  My brain told me to cross train so as not to increase my miles 40% this week, but my heart wanted to run.  The weather was gorgeous and I felt strong.  I logged 2 miles in 20:08 minutes on Wednesday during lunch, much faster than my average 10:20 per mile.  I felt great!

Thursday I decided to run after work, even though I know by now afternoons are not the best time for me to run and that I wimp out when I get too hot.  Still, the weather was supposed to get cooler, so I mapped a quick run to hit 3.5 and started running.

I changed up the new route at the last minute, and inadvertently cut my warm-up walk from five minutes to two.  I wasn’t concerned though—how could today’s run be anything but perfect after yesterday’s run?  Ah, reality is cruel.  By the end of the first mile, which is a long, steady uphill stretch, my calves were on fire.  I pushed to the top if the hill despite the pain, but was forced to stop there and stretch.

When I reached down to feel my legs, but muscles were rock hard and much larger than usual.  I don’t technically know what was happening, but it felt like they just ceased up and refused to stretch out.  I walked, stretch and walked half mile further, but found little relief.  I admitted defeat and head toward home.

I did jog some of the way, but my legs were still tight.  All the lightness I felt in my previous runs was gone.  I struggled with the thought that I was a wimp for bailing and the understanding that fighting too much against my body would only hurt my in upcoming runs.

The good news is I took all of this into my run Sunday.  When I woke up, it was rainy and cold.  I set out in 56-degree light rain and this time made a point to warm up by both walking and stretching.  I knew the challenges that were ahead on my route and was ready for them.

My long run was the best of the week.  I ran 5 miles, in the rain, in the cold, in 50:08.  That includes waiting to cross the street a few times!  And I finished strong, speeding up and then sprinting for the final stretch.  It was awesome and I was so overcome with pride and accomplishment that I almost cried.  I ran a mile further than I have ever run—in only 5 minutes longer than the 4-miler event I did two weeks ago.

I know the high can’t last forever, but for today I’m satisfied, basking in this victory and mentally preparing for the next.

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Entry filed under: Beginning Runner, Training, women running. Tags: , , , .

Out of the Comfort Zone Safety First

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