I recently had one of the worst runs I’ve ever had. I also had one of the best.
The thing is, they were the same run.
I started out very shaky. Various joints were complaining and muscles were still cranky from the weekend’s long run. I was out with DW, who’s been consistently rocking it with her ever-rising mileage and somehow doing quite fine while never stretching or icing, so I hoped to keep up with the “easy” pace on our training schedule. Usually the pace is no problem, but for whatever reason, this day did not shine upon my run. I hoped that everything would work itself out in a couple miles and I would suddenly feel great (hey, it’s happened before!) but the longer I tried to keep a pace that should’ve been easy, the more it seemed to hurt.
I was getting frustrated, and I could tell DW was getting frustrated that she was running at what had to be an awkwardly slow pace for her, so finally I told DW to go ahead and run her pace and I would catch up sometime, probably back at the house! I pressed on, frankly a little peeved. I didn’t know what was going on. It seemed that on this day I simply couldn’t do what I’m used to pulling off with ease. There was just no rhythm, no flow. I felt like a bag of books falling down stairs.
Then I kinda gave up trying to keep up a certain pace and fell back to what was comfortable. Wow, what a difference! Within a ½ mile every pain went away. I fell into a slow, steady rhythm and got my breath back. I suddenly felt like I could run forever! Every step was deliberate, I felt every stride in the moment and savored it for its basic nature.
I finished the last half of the run like that and arrived home in a great mood! I guess they call it a “recovery pace” for a reason, eh?
During the run I got to thinking about how my whole approach to that run paralleled the human tendency to push in times of stress. No matter what’s going on, be it with work, a loved one, a friend, or oneself, it’s often a natural reaction to stress out and push way too hard when things get a little rough. It’s usually in those exact circumstances when it’s better to pull back a bit and calmly make progress. It always feels slower and less productive, but most of the time it solves things a LOT faster and more completely in the long run. (no pun intended)
Anyway, this has been today’s running allegory.
Happy running, you wonderful people!