I had a crappy run this morning.
I moved slowly, like, 1:30-per-mile slower than I usually run. I plodded along through the neighborhoods. My body didn’t feel great. Aside from some slow (and fun!) trail runs, I haven’t been running much the past three or four weeks due to a strained tibialis and wonky ankle.
But I’m keeping the faith. I’ll keep heading out for slow, plodding road runs a few times a week to get my legs back, to retrain my muscles and my joints. I know that just enduring these painful, very-unsmooth-feeling runs will get me to where I want to be: running well and feeling strong, fluid. I just need to keep going, stay consistent.
I plan on using the same strategy as a brand-new runner. I’m going to make sure I “check the boxes” (like on the None2Run program) and do runs like this three times a week or so. I also make sure I check the boxes of lifting weights or doing at-home, body weight strength workouts at least two times a week. I give myself a day between both—the runs, and the lifts—to help my body adjust and recover. And I know that with consistency, I’ll be back.
I always feel like doing three of whatever it is—weightlifting at a certain weight, running roads, adding miles, etc.—before moving on is a solid strategy. For instance, I’ll do three sessions of free weights with 8 lb. dumbbells before ramping up to 10 lbs. of the same lifts. I’ll foam roll a sore spot three times before trying to run again. And with my current state of running, I know I’ll have two or three more road runs where I feel achy and slow before I feel smooth. But I know I’ll get there.
My sister recently asked me for some tips to help motivate her to run. She wasn’t feeling it. She’d been sick for a couple of weeks, and her regular route felt boring to her, even though she’d enjoyed it plenty of times before. I told her to just keep heading out, but to help her motivation, to mix things up. “Go to the beach,” I said. “If you usually wear headphones when you run, don’t. But if you don’t wear headphones, try it. Go during a different time of day than you usually do. Go for a run in the rain. Put on something you like running in. Buy a new pair of socks (or a new shirt, or something that makes you excited to go running.) Run an errand—like to the post office where you mail a letter, then run home.”
She tried a few of those strategies, but kept telling me her runs still sucked. I started to worry that my advice wasn’t going to help her (which would mean that all the advice in my book, Running That Doesn’t Suck) might not be helping other people.
But then she called me and beamed: “I just had the BEST run!”
She had gone to the beach to run, so there’s that. But I’m certain that it’s just because she kept going for runs and finally broke through the barrier and felt great. All the advice I had given her kept her heading out and trying new things, and the consistency of heading out for runs, allowed her body to adjust and catch up to where her mind wanted to be: feeling good on a run.
She kept the faith. I’m currently keeping the faith, and doing the work. I know I’ll come back from a run sometime in the near future—maybe after two more crappy road runs—and say the same thing: “I just had the BEST run!”
If you’re feeling frustrated or just haven’t felt running “click” with your body, just keep doing the work. Keep ticking off those boxes, and know that eventually, you’ll be celebrating feeling good on a run, too.