On Quitting…

Twice. And trying to learn something from it.

This morning I set out to do a 5 mile run with 3 miles at (or below) my “short” tempo pace of 7:15 min/mile.

Just 6 months ago, 3 miles at 7:15 would have seemed nearly impossible, but I completed this same workout relatively painlessly a few weeks ago and last week I finished 5 miles at a not-too-much-slower pace.

I was tired when the alarm went off and got started later than I would have liked so I didn’t get to take my trusty running buddy for the first couple of miles like I normally would.

C’mon, Mom! Please, please, please take me to run!!

Early in the run, my legs felt slightly fatigued, presumably from Monday’s speedwork/TT, but I didn’t feel like it was enough to greatly affect the 3 short tempo miles.

The first tempo mile was tough, but manageable, and my Garmin beeped at 7:11. Perfect.

The second mile starts on an uphill, but I tried to keep the effort steady and planned to work the pace down on the flat/downhill portion. My pace was hovering in the low 7:30’s, so I really pushed as I hit the flat, then downhill section. As I came down the hill, though, I looked at my watch and the pace read 8:20! I was dumbfounded.

Yes, I am highly dependent on my Garmin to tell me how fast I am running, but I can surely feel the difference between my 10k pace (7:15ish) and my marathon pace (8:20ish), and I knew I was NOT running an 8:20 pace at that moment.

Yet, in that moment, I lost all motivation to continue to push myself. At first, I told myself that it was just a little “blip” in satellites and the pace would jump back down as quick as it jumped up, so I kept pushing. It hurt. I was in pain and as I watched the pace creep down to 8:05, then 8:00 and hover there, I continued to lose the drive to push. And then before I knew it, 1.7 miles into my 3 mile tempo, I quit. I was walking. I didn’t mean to…I meant to push through, but I didn’t. I stopped.

After a few minutes of walking, I convinced myself to start back again and to finish out the remainder of the tempo. I felt a little better after the break and eventually mile 2 beeped at 7:38. Who knows what it really was?

The first 1/2 of the third mile is a on a slight downhill, so I enjoyed the relaxed effort that it took to keep the pace at 7:00 on the way down. As I turned the corner and headed back up the hill, I told myself to dig deep and push through for the last half mile. With a 15 second cushion to help on the incline, it should have been managemeable. But by that point, after I had already quit once, my mental game was done.

When things got tough again and I saw the pace creeping back over 7:15, with over a 1/3 of a mile to go, I quit. Again. I walked for another couple of minutes, until I could once again convince myself to finish. I finally did and the third mile beeped at 7:10 of actual running time.

Appropriately, the run finished with me being hit like a ton of bricks with that OMG I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. NOW. LIKE, RIGHT NOW. feeling during my cooldown mile. (Note: this was not a factor at all in the tempo miles). I walked to the nearest bathroom at Panera, then eventually slowly jogged the rest of the way home, finishing at 4.85 miles.

As I cooled down, I was beating myself up a little bit for my lack of toughness on the run. I was disappointed in myself for giving up. I ultimately decided that there were several factors at play and the best thing I can do is to learn from them and chalk this #runfastfail up to experience.

So, what did I learn?

  1. There is MUCH, MUCH more to a run than what the all-knowing, all-mighty Garmin says. We all know that $*&% happens with our Garmins and they may not always be accurate. This could happen in a race too and I surely don’t plan on quitting there! Effort matters. Pushing through pain matters. The numbers don’t always matter. So I need to ignore the damn Garmin in this situation and run by effort.
  2. Get yo’ EGO in check, Girl! All day yesterday I was riding my high of running a sub-6:00 mile TT on Monday evening at the track. I was floating on an “I am so fast” high and enjoying the confirmation of my feelings that I was finally seeing progression in my speed. Well guess, what?! Reality check! I may have had a good run and I may be seeing some results from some hard speed workouts, but 3 miles at 7:15 is HARD and I am not *that* fast that I don’t still need to work for that run. 
  3. Don’t expect great things from my body if I don’t treat it right. Last week we were in NYC and I was not nice to my body. I don’t think I ate 7 servings of fruits & veggies in the last 5 days, much less everyday. I also drank, stayed out late and ate a ton of rich, unhealthy food. I have been a little kinder to my system since we returned, but we just finally went to the grocery store yesterday, so I still haven’t gotten the nutrition I need this week. How can I expect my body to perform when I don’t fuel it?
  4. Allow work stress/frustration to fuel me, not drain me. I normally don’t talk much about work here, but I will a little today…My job is not typically stressful. I am a project manager (6 Sigma Blackbelt for those of you who are familiar with it) and I don’t typically have tight deadlines or a great deal of pressure. But yesterday I had an extremely frustrating 2 1/2 hour meeting regarding the status and direction of my current project. I was drained  afterward. The rest of the evening I was too exhausted to even talk about it and I think I was still a bit worked up this morning. Instead of letting my frustration fuel a ragey and ultimately mind-clearing run, I let it zap my energy. Not cool.
I think there were  a few other lectures that I gave myself during that sweaty slog back to my house, but I can’t recall them right now. I do know that I am happy to move right on past this run and look forward to the next workout, and especially my next run. We’ll call it #runfastredemption.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in Goals, running, training, walter. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to On Quitting…

  1. Terzah says:

    I’ve had frustrating tempo runs like that. It’s no fun, but you understood the reasons for it and I think you ARE getting faster!

  2. Jaclyn says:

    Sometimes its workouts like these that make us appreciate those better workouts and keep us coming back for more. We are human after all even though we’re triathletes 🙂 Keep it up!

  3. Ahh garmin…I actually wrote to them at one point because of crazy pace fluxuations. they said to do a hard reset, not sure yours needs that…but maybe!!

    Running is crazy because one day is great and the next is like have I ever run before, but you are right it’s a combination of many factors. It’s ok to have a bad run and even quit largely because it does make you think 🙂

    • Corey says:

      How exactly do you do a hard reset? I think I used to know but I don’t remember. My watch has been all over the place since I was in NYC.

      You are very right about having a bad run. They just seem worse when things have been going pretty well and then they pop right up unexpectedly! I will definitely appreciate the next good one more though!

  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one! I definitely have those runs where I think I’m gonna be so speedy and then I just can’t hang on. After your speed work earlier in the week, your legs might have wanted more recovery- it’s obviously not that they can’t do it, but that they might not want to do it after an already tough beginning of the week. You are definitely getting faster, my friend!

    • Corey says:

      You make a really good point. I usually recover from speedwork pretty easily, but I guess I hadn’t really considered how much going at an all-out effort might be different from a typical speed session!

  5. elizabeth says:

    you learned a lot from the run and that is good. honestly, i haven’t seen my speed in quite sometime so i know how you feel. but after reading this, it made me realize that the stress and exhaustion i have going on in work/personal life is probably weighing me down. thanks for this!

    • Corey says:

      You definitely had a strong race at Peach Tree though!! It’s a little crazy how you don’t realize how much stress will take out of you until you look back on it or try to do something like run far or fast and your body just doesn’t cooperate.

  6. Pingback: Weekly Recap: Base Building |

  7. you are still getting seriously faster- don’t let 1 run knock you down completely. trust me, listen to your body and you’ll be back in the game in no time. oh, and you know i completely appreciate the emergency pit stop. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Weekly Recap: Starting the Plan |

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