It happened. I’m seven weeks out from the Atlanta Half, and yesterday I had a bad run.
After two weeks of timing my runs between miraculous breaks of rain or sucking it up and running through the rain, I set out today thinking today would be awesome because it was a crisp and beautiful 68 degrees and because I had spent the morning lazing around the house.
WRONG. I felt like I had morphed back to March, when running a mile was a struggle. It started with my GPS not working and missing part of my distance. Soon after, my calves started cramping up. It was weird. The pain almost felt like it was coming from my bones and not my muscles. But, I kept running through it and reached my turnaround point with a bunch of negative thoughts bouncing around in my head that started innocently enough, like an aggressive coach, but quickly became downers.
4.5 miles is not that hard.
You have run farther than this plenty of times.
You didn’t spend today chasing around 6-year-olds.
How are you going to run 13 miles when you can’t even run 5?
Why did you sign up for the half in the first place?
So I finished
And immediately grabbed my Nalgene and collapsed on my foam roll to nurse my screaming calves. Meanwhile, I thought to myself: where those thoughts true? Should I just stop? Surely if I couldn’t do today’s run, I can’t consider myself good enough to run this half. But as time passed, I told that annoying inner voice to hush up, because six months ago, I couldn’t run three miles. I would absolutely never have thought that today, my 4.5 mile run would be one of my “short” runs on my training schedule.
Was I really that self-centered to think that I am the only runner who has had a bad day? Running is just like any other part of life. We have bad days at school (or wherever you work). We have bad days in our relationships. Those days don’t make us bad people. They make us real. They make us strong.
So tomorrow, I’ll hit the pavement ready to bounce back. Because that is what being a true runner is. It’s not about racking up ultras. It’s not about getting a PR every race. It’s not even about knocking time off your mile. It’s about going back, day after day, to something that can be infuriatingly challenging and wonderfully fulfilling.
Although ultras, PRs, and lower paces are also pretty cool.