Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Turning Bad into Something Good

As much as we want them to, good runs just don't happen constantly.  Now and then, even sometimes for what seems like long period of time bad runs will sneak in there and make you as yourself "Why am I doing this??".  It could be because of lack of sleep or general fatigue, poor nutrition or hydration (hangover runs are never wonderful), or... they could just simply be.

Regardless of why a run happens to be crappy, whether it's the entire run or even just a portion of it, you gotta have that something inside you that all of us crazy runners seem to have that keeps you from giving up for good.

Lately, my toughest runs have been my recovery runs.  I had a 6 mile recovery pace run this morning that wasn't exactly a breeze.  For one, it had just stopped raining and it was 72 degrees and felt like a million percent humidity.  At 6 am.  No matter what kind of run I was heading out for this morning it was going to be an extra challenge just due to that.  I know I said I wasn't going to excessively bitch about the hot weather this summer, but honestly it is starting to get to me.

I'm also really stressed right now.  Mainly over this negotiation of the purchase of our (God willing) new house.  I'm drowning in thoughts of work needing done, landscaping, who is going where, where did all the papers go, counteroffers, etc.  It is incredibly overwhelming.  Typically, I like to run out my frustrations, but when I run something out it's fast.  Not a recovery run that's supposed to be run around 10:15 per mile.

Something crazy about me and recovery runs is that they always hurt.  Now, I'm not talking I'm in ridiculous amounts of crippling pain, but I just notice things that bother me.  At one point this morning I swear everything from my rear end to my toe was working against me.  It just didn't feel right.  But, the odd thing is that after these runs all these little annoyances go away.  And then I feel fantastic, like I do sitting here right now, 4 hours after this morning's suckfest.  There must be something magical about the recovery run!

So, while I was trudging along the trail this morning I was thinking about how to turn these runs into something to look forward to as opposed to the "omg these Wednesday runs are the pit of my week".  I ended up thinking of a short list of things that make my recovery runs great.

1. It gives the body a break - even if it doesn't immediately feel that way.  By moving at a gentler pace, you give your muscles a better chance to repair themselves from a previous day's work.  If you run too hard 2 days in a row, you might just be setting yourself up for a trip down injury road.  For me, very little is worth being out for months at a time again.

2.  You have a great opportunity to focus on your form.  I don't know about anyone else, but sometimes when I'm running and my mind is in another dimension I'm not exactly running down the Chi Running list of perfect running form.  I'll notice if I'm starting to feel bad that my form is off, I'll correct it and then move along.  But during recovery runs, given the fact that they are designed to be slow and relaxed, you can focus on footfall, cadence, stride, and posture more clearly.  At least I can, so I'm taking this as a positive.  I figure that if I get really good at perfecting my form during these increasing in distance slow miles, that it will transfer to my other runs.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.

3. Admiring your surroundings!  Again, this might be a "me" thing, but when I'm zooming along at a faster pace or focused on a specific time/distance goal I tend to neglect just looking around me and seeing all the wonderful things that surround me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm always in safety mode (only use 1 earbud, volume low, hyperaware of creepy looking people, bad drivers, etc), but I don't always appreciate things.  Like the baby geese I've practically been watching grow up since the Spring.  The awesome honeysuckle/other floral smells.  Cardinals and finches that sometimes seem to graze me as the zip by.  How awesome the skyline looks at sunrise when the light reflects off of it.  Hearing/watching the rowing teams on the river.  When you're not going crazy about running while running you can really just absorb so much cool stuff around you.

4.  It makes your faster runs more gratifying.  When you go from one extreme to the other you can really enjoy each of them for their purpose.  And they DO each have a purpose!

5. Your body is learning to be perfectly fine running for longer periods of time.  Sure, I can run 6 miles in much less time than I did this morning.  But that's not really helping my bones (some parts newly formed, too!) to be able to cope with carting me and all my stuff I think I need around for hours and hours at a time.  Sure, I have a long run once a week, but just like with form, the more I can practice being on my feet the stronger I'll be.  I truly believe all those weeks of low heart rate running helped with this as well and I'm glad I stuck with it.

I know that recovery runs have more benefits, but these are what came to my mind today as I was soaked in sweat and plodding along trying to hold back from just "getting it done".  Recovery runs can be and WILL be awesome!

1 comment:

  1. I wish we could switch places so I could do your easy runs and you can do my fast runs, lol! I learned to run using the Chi Running technique, so maybe that's part of the reason I love my easy runs--to focus on my form and breathing and to observe and enjoy being outside. When I do speed workouts, it all falls apart pretty quickly for me.