I feel like I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I am not attempting to provide information about how stress affects running performance. Just wanted to get that out there in case you googled your way here hoping to be educated.
No, I’m trying to figure out if stress can be blamed for my craptastic run today. If you happen to have any intel on this, please let me know.
I’ve had a bad week. It starts off with me not liking Christmas very much (I really want to, but I find it difficult in large part because of my family of origin, which always stirs up tough feelings this time of year) and being annoyed that I haven’t been running outside due to weather. Add in the car-sliding-off-the-driveway incident on Wednesday and unplanned close to 4 hours of snow shoveling. And a seemingly tiny comment on my blog that implied I am a pessimist (I don’t think I am nor does anyone who knows me, but fuck all if my blog doesn’t make me look like a miserable asshole sometimes?) has made me feel all ooky and misunderstood and also castigating myself for not being a shiny happy people. (Totally not the commenter’s fault)
Plus, one more insult to my ego: I found my two first gray hairs. Ugh.
Then I did a tough workout on Friday. It actually went fine. I had a 3-2-1 tempo workout, which started with a 30 minute warm up followed by 3 miles at tempo pace, 5 minute jog, 2 mile tempo, 5 minute jog, and 1 mile tempo, finishing up with a 30 minute cool down.
To address my desire to start pushing me into “failure” so I can better find out my fitness level and help me push more in races, my coach suggested I increase effort throughout the workout. Therefore, I increased my pace within each tempo segment. My tempo goal range was 7:50-8:05.
You can see that I did what I set out to do, averaging a 7:49 tempo pace. It felt pretty hard, harder than I wanted it to, but my heartrate didn’t do anything nuts during the work segments (a 161 average), and it settled down during the recovery periods.
This is Tuft’s Hospital in Boston. My son was supposed to be on an Amtrak home from college yesterday and instead my husband and I had to go get him because he said he’d knocked himself out somehow.
Let me tell you, I understand why HIPAA exists, but I was extremely frustrated with it yesterday when I got kicked out of triage because my son didn’t want to answer certain questions in front of me. He was diagnosed with a concussion. He also missed two of his four finals. I wish I could say I was shocked, but the best I can say is that I am numb.
Anyway, we finally got home around 11pm last night after having picked at a salad for the entirety of my food for the day besides my normal breakfast of a banana, Clif Bar and coffee.
Today was long run day, and I was supposed to do 14-16 miles. I considered trying the park, but I figured that they probably wouldn’t have plowed the running paths and I didn’t feel like dealing with running on the roads stuffed with Christmas shoppers in their vehicles and being doused by melting slush.
I maybe regret the decision to treadmill it today. My run sucked. It was slow, my heart rate was elevated given the pace I was running, and when I tried slowing it down to a crawl and even taking some recovery breaks once I passed 6.25 miles, it still sucked. I’ve still got a lingering cough, and I’m not sure if it was just psychological or a real physical thing, but it felt like something was catching in my chest when I breathed. I kept thinking I should go to Urgent Care to get a chest xray, but the idea of sitting in a medical waiting room so close to yesterday’s experience sounded awful.
I tried to convince myself that the long run was about time on my feet, and if I could just string together 2-mile sets until I hit at least 14 miles, I was good.
Well, I tried. My heart rate at the end of mile 10 had steadily climbed to 153 despite that I was running a whopping 10-minute mile (as compared to Friday’s run where I was running a 7:25 at the end of the tempo segment and had a heart rate of 162). When I got towards the end of mile 11, I realized I was ridiculously sweaty given my pace, but I was also cold. Remember, I was indoors on the treadmill. There was no real reason for me to be cold and I was drinking plenty of fluids. I’d already refilled my water bottle.
I decided that it was time to call my run “done.”
Can I say how pissed off this has me? I’m so angry at, I dunno, everything. My run was supposed to help me de-stress and instead I’m doubting my ability to run. Because, of course, one lousy run means I’m no good.
I sound like a big, whiny loser here and like I’m making every excuse in the book for a shit run. And that all pisses me off too.
The upside, if here can possibly be one, is that although I am emotionally wretched right now and the idea that a drink would take the edge off did skitter through my alcoholic brain, it really and truly sounds like an abhorrent idea. Which sort of surprises me in a good way. I do feel like my mind was my biggest enemy today, so this is a silver lining.
To sum up my tale of self-pity, I am trying to understand how today’s run went so poorly. What I discovered is that running is decidedly not therapy for this runner. At least not when there is too much shit hitting the fan. I do think running can change your mood to something more positive and can help with outlook, but at the end of the day, you can’t outrun your troubles.