What Hard Runs Don’t Mean

Welp, we finally had a semi-unicorn week where there were no unexpected medical appointments, child care issues, or natural disasters. And I got in all of my workouts! Unfortunately that does not mean that this was an easy week for me, or that all those workouts I got in went smoothly. In fact, my long run Saturday was actually really, really hard. So hard that if this were a few years ago, I would have a lot of doubts and questions about my training. After having run for more than a decade, though, I know what hard runs mean. And usually, the occasional hard day or week doesn’t mean a whole lot. More importantly, I know what hard runs don’t mean.

What Runs Don’t Mean

  • That training isn’t working – Honestly, it probably means that training is doing exactly what it’s supposed to. It’s giving a reason to push really hard, and sometimes that means workouts feel HARD. Most days shouldn’t feel impossible, but if every single day feels effortless, you aren’t really getting much out of training in terms of progress.
  • That your strength or endurance is decreasing – It’s really confusing to have a hard workout feel amazing one week, and then have a similar workout feel like death the next. It can make you question if maybe you’re doing something to actually derail your progress. But the truth is just that building strength and endurance isn’t a linear path. Some days just feel harder for no good reason.
  • That you didn’t prepare well enough – If you have any propensity towards being type-A, it’s super tempting to start picking apart your pre-workout routine after a ride on the struggle bus. And it’s worth while to take a minute to examine if maybe something like a night of bad sleep or a not so great breakfast played into the mix, but if you can’t pinpoint anything after a few minutes, it’s time to move on.
  • That you aren’t a “good” runner – Now I’m not exactly a professional athlete, but I consider myself a decent runner. Why? Because I run consistently. Not because of my paces, races, or times. Because I do the thing. And after years of doing this thing, I still have really hard runs that feel way more difficult than I think they should. Even the absolute best runners in the world have crap runs sometimes.
  • That you won’t meet your goals – The absolute best indication of reaching your goals is consistent work and effort. I’ve had some of my best race performances after crap weeks. Don’t get ahead of yourself and stress about your goals after a hard workout. Focus instead on recovery and staying consistent.

After a couple of weeks of “life happening,” I was really happy to have a relatively quiet week around here. On Sunday, my son helped me make some amazing banana bread, and I have to say that might be the way every single week should start. The work week was relatively uneventful. Enrique went to school. Lila played with the nanny. I did my work. The workouts magically happened as planned.

We did have one tough day, where Lila was just a little clingier than usual. She’s usually a pretty happy baby, and is content to play with her toys for about 15-20 minutes before needing a different activity. Since she can only handle staying away for about 2 hours, and she naps well during the day, it hasn’t been too challenging to focus on work during the week. On Thursday, however, she just did not want to be put down. Which is really strange for her. She wasn’t sick (that I know of). She wasn’t working on a new skill. She just wanted to be held. Specifically by me.

It was a little worrying. And a lot stressful in the moment. But thankfully her naps were still great, the nanny was patient, and after an afternoon walk in the carrier instead of the stroller (for extra snuggles), she was back to her usual self. It’s hard not having an answer about “why” she was extra clingy, but with babies every day is different, and you never really know what’s going on in their little heads and bodies. I definitely had an extra large glass of wine after she went to bed that day.

I woke up early to get everything prepped for my long run before Lila woke up on Saturday. The weather wasn’t quite as perfect as it had been last week. It wasn ‘t terrible, but it was warmer and more humid, and it’s clear that Spring is on the way. Which is a bummer for me, because I love the colder weather. And I don’t know if it was the higher temps, or just my body being tired from working out more consistently this week, but I felt tired the entire run. And the last two miles felt almost never ending. I honestly don’t know if or how much further I’ll push the distance while I’m still nursing Lila, because it was really hard to rehydrate and recover after this run. But I’m just gonna take it run by run at this point.

My plan next week is to drop back down to 10 miles for my long run, and see how my body feels.  I might stay in the 10-11 mile range for my long runs for a while, or I might push it a little farther.  I honestly can’t see myself going for anything longer than 2 hours until Lila weans, but who knows.  This whole running and breastfeeding at the same time deal is still really new to me.

This Weeks Work Outs

Total Miles: 23.84 Miles
Total Workouts: 4
How the Run Felt
All of my weekday runs were on the treadmill this week, and I rewatched Making a Murderer.  The paces felt fairly easy, and I think I may drop the walking break all together this next week.  Which is exciting.  It’s been so long since I’ve just run without walking, and I’m loving the progress I can see in my training.  I won’t be adding in speedwork anytime in the near future, but I can’t wait to train hard again.

I already touched on Saturday’s long run.  I’m really proud of myself for pushing hard.  I’ve only had a handful of runs that have made me feel spent since finding out I was pregnant.  No one ever loves riding the struggle bus, but it did feel good to keep going even when I wanted to stop.  I’m sure the glow of that will wear off soon, but for now I’m enjoying it.

How the WODs Felt
It seems like the workouts this week were pretty reasonable.  I don’t love building up to a heavy set of 10 reps, but not because it’s hard.  More because it’s just really hard to figure out what is going to feel heavy, but reasonable for that many reps in a row.  Especially since I am still rebuilding my strength.  I’m still modifying double under workouts with singles.  I think I could probably do 20-30 double unders and be ok, but anything above that would probably strain my pelvic floor more than I’d be ok with.  The open workout this week was weird in that it was only 10 minutes, but it definitely wasn’t one you could sprint.  I was really happy with getting up the first set of 9 reps done, and being able to RX the workout.

What I’ve Been Listening To
This week has been all Shadow Girls and Trapped in Treatment for me, and I’m not upset about it.

What Went Well
I had a whole week of consistent workouts.

What Went Shitty
The only crappy thing was how hard it was for me to rehydrate after my long run.

Plans to Improve Next Week
Bump back down to 10 miles and see how my body does.

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