Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Anatomy of a Bad Run

Sunday was the worst long run I've had in quite awhile. I knew before going that several variables were converging to make this a bad run--most significantly, that it had been 3 weeks since my last long run, since I let work take over my life--but I thought I could push through it.

First, a little background. Whenever I do a long run, I do heart rate zone training. This is because I've read that the best way to train is to have runs that train JUST the anaerobic system (speed intervals and the like), runs that train both systems (tempo runs), and runs that isolate the aerobic system--which takes the form of a long run at 65-75% of your max HR. I have no idea how significant or necessary this kind of training is, but I know of a couple runners online who swear by it, and I'm trying it out since I now have a heart rate monitor.

So I get out there and start running. Initially I'm feeling pretty stiff, some calf cramping. Then it starts to get hot. It's the first week in April, and apparently it's already time to start doing runs in the morning rather than the afternoon. Keeping my HR at 75% means keeping it under 173 bpm and I CANNOT get my heart rate to stay down. My garmin keeps beeping at me like every 45 seconds to tell me my heart rate is too high, and I'm running a ridiculous 14:30/min pace (not even running at this point!) trying to keep my heartrate in check. Eventually I get so frustrated, tired, hot, and stressed that I literally start to cry and I raise my heartrate alert to 183 bpm.

I have my fuelbelt with me, and before I'm halfway out I've already drank more than half of the 3 bottles I had along. I pretty much want to die, but I push onward until I'm halfway out. At that point I'm whiny and miserable and upset and disappointed in myself and feel like this run is a waste and have sore feet and am focused on every other possible negative emotion one could have while running. The trail is miserable around my turnaround point; there's freeway noise and full sun. At this point I basically mentally give up and start walking back.

I alternated walking/miserable running for most of the way home, doing far more walking than I have during a run in ages. When I was a mile from home, I decided I wasn't going to completely mail it in... so I ran the last mile back at an 8:30 pace. I was sore, exhausted, and semi-grumpy for the rest of the day.

And, I've been dreading this week's long run for most of the week.

But I think the facts are simple: Heat was a pretty huge factor on this run. I'm hoping if I go early this Sunday, and can muster up a positive attitude, I'll be ok. I'm sort of nervous that I can't handle a 10 mile run after wussing out on a 9 mile run this badly, though. 9 miles wasn't that hard for me before though, so I don't know. Fingers crossed.

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