The Runner's Rut

It's been awhile since I posted a running update...perhaps that's because for the past two weeks I've been in a running rut. About three weeks ago I ran a half-marathon that was a trail race. Cold temps and a tougher terrain made the run difficult, but I did run a PR.
The look on my face says it all: "Where is the bleepin' finish line?!"
I felt pretty good about it, yet after that race, my motivation to run declined drastically. Usually spring and temps high enough to run in shorts gives my running mojo a new boost. But lately all I've wanted to do after work is watch TV and eat cookies....

A few weeks ago I tried out my Vibram Five-Fingers for a short three miler. I've been wearing them on my dreadmill runs for up to five miles and have done fine. On the day that I strapped them on, it was 50 degrees, I had a day off from school, and I found myself feeling as free as a naked toddler. This ensued in a sub 8 pace for much of the run (MUCH faster than my treadmill runs). I noticed a little tenderness in my calves that afternoon, but it was nothing unbearable. The next day when I tried to get out of bed, I nearly fell over because my calves hurt so bad. I felt like my legs could not support me; it was a feeling similar to my post-marathon soreness (which was terrible). The pain kept up for a few days. My 10 miler that week was atrocious. Normally I'm a light-footed runner and can't hear my steps over my music, but on that particular Saturday I sounded like an elephant. I couldn't flex my feet to land on my mid-foot, so instead I was landing flat-footed which in turn made my hips sore for the next week. In short, my careless Vibram running led to two weeks of lower body misery, ocasional cursing, and perhaps is what sparked my desire to trade running for binge eating. I began flirting with the idea of just giving up running for a month. It's been two years since I've taken more than a week off of running. Last night I set my alarm for 7:30 so I could set out for my scheduled 11 miler. When I closed my eyes last night, I gave myself permission to sleep past my alarm and maybe skip the run.

Then the morning came. I woke an hour before my alarm and could not fall back asleep. I checked Facebook and notice a post from a local running group that said: "The air is warm, the birds are singing. Get out and run!" I have to say, runners can be pretty damn annoying. We also tend to be a competitive breed (either with each other or with ourselves), and I couldn't let this annoying runner taunt me with his sickeningly happy Facebook post. Begrudgingly, I grabbed my gear and set out for Lake Z to rack up the miles.

Besides the raging wind for the last four miles, it was a pretty good run. It wasn't my fastest, but I still ran a decent pace which puts me on track for another PR at my next half in two weeks. I don't know what was different about this run, but afterwards, I felt much better about running. Perhaps the sun and a little time alone to think and pray with no papers to rush back home and grade was all I needed.

It also helped that Nate sprung an early birthday present on me today: a new Garmin and four packs of Honey Stinger fruit chews! My Garmin is about three years old and lately has been losing satellite connection during my runs which messes up the total distance and pace counts (which, for an anal runner like myself, is maddening). And the Honey Stingers are a treat to myself at mile 10 on my long runs. They're like Cliff Shot Blocks, but are much easier to chew and are made with honey and other natural ingredients rather than weird stuff.

If you've been running for any length of time, you've experienced the "runner's rut." There's not much to do other than run through it. These crap moments are what makes our training tough, but they also make us stronger mentally. Oh, and a word of advice: don't rush into minimalist running--especially with those crazy gorilla shoes. As great as they feel while running, pushing too hard too fast will equal pain.

1 comment:

Amanda Kasik said...

Okay. I pretty much LOVE this post! Especially the "dreadmill" and other descriptions. I read a different post of yours about running and it was what I needed that day to get out and run. Today I think I'm going to go work out as well. I can relate to this in many ways.