Grinding Out the Tough Days

By: Brad Deel

When I see anyone post about a run or a race, almost inevitably, they are talking about a wonderful workout or a beautiful run or a PR or a goal met or something else equally sublime.  There are several posts such as those in my Facebook newsfeed this weekend.  If you limited your reading about running to social media, you could be excused for thinking that all runs are rainbows, sunshine, Care Bears, and enless PR's.  However, anyone who has been running for any length of time knows that is not the case and I experienced that today.

I left the house around 11:30 this morning (11/23) for the traditional Sunday long run.  I had only run 5 miles or so on both Friday and Saturday so my legs were well rested.  I went to bed around 10:00 Saturday night and slept in until 8:00 Sunday morning so I had plenty of sleep.  I ate a good breakfast so I was well nourished.  I made sure to hydrate adequately so I was good to go there as well.  None of that mattered.  

As soon as I began running, I felt sluggish.  My legs felt as if someone had attached exercise bands to them and every step forward required me to pull on the band.  Usually, if I feel like that, I will relax after 3-4 miles and settle into a comfortable zone.  Never happened.  Every single step for the two hours, twenty minutes, and ten seconds I was out there was difficult.  I have no idea how many times I thought of cutting the run short.  Instead, I ran a bit extra and turned a planned 15 miles into 18 miles.  And hated it all the way.  The question that is obvious is, "why?"  "Why not simply stop if you are not enjoying it?"  I can answer that from several perspectives.

First, I recognize that there are ups and downs to any pursuit.  The difficult runs are the price you pay for the terrific runs.  Second, and probably more importantly, it is easy to use a bit of adversity as an excuse not to run.  I could easily have cut the run short today.  I could choose to skip running when it's 40 degrees and raining or 95 degrees and humid.  I could choose to skip running when icy roads force me to either the treadmill or nothing.  Instead, I grind it out because, well, that is what runners do.  

Making running part of your life means grinding it out on the days when you would rather be doing something else.  It means continuing to put one foot in front of the other even when every step is a slog.  Do I think that grinding out the tough days builds mental toughness or character?  Nah.  Not really.  What I do think is that my body reaped the physiological benefits of this run even if it was an unpleasant day and that, after all, was the point of doing a long run today in the first place.

See ya out there.

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