Don’t despair the tough runs

Thermometer reading 39 degrees C.

It’s the height of summer so chances are you have encountered a few “tough runs” lately. Tough runs strike from nowhere, ready to dash your confidence and destroy your running enjoyment. Tough runs usually involve spending the entire run telling yourself that it would be ok to quit, that all your hard work has been a waste of time and, basically, you suck as a runner and probably a human being.

Don’t despair! These tough runs, if only you can manage to adjust your self talk, are a wonderful opportunity to trust the process and practice surrendering to the feedback the feelings and sensations your body is gifting you. Ultimately, it’s about accepting this running life for all of it’s ups and downs. Because there WILL be ups, of course, and don’t we all love those? It’s easy to keep running when running comes easy. But the downs, well that’s when running gets real. Because there WILL be downs. No matter how perfectly you train, no matter how effective your recovery, no matter how much you want every run to feel like you’re gliding along a path of golden silk (is that even a thing? I don’t know but it sounds like a divine running experience!).

Coping with the downs is largely about self talk. The narrative you create around tough runs is key to how you cope with and eventually move on from these runs. Take a moment to think about the last time running really sucked for you. What was that little voice inside your head saying as you puffed and lumbered your way through the difficult workout, as your legs felt like blocks of lead and your heart pounded through your chest? My little running nemesis likes to tell me that I’m a fraud, I haven’t worked hard enough and if I can’t run well how am I ever going to help anyone else as a runner? The challenge for me is to turn that negative self talk around. I’m not a fraud, I’m a real runner facing the same challenges as every other runner on the planet. I have worked hard, but perhaps I haven’t recovered properly or life’s other demands have left me sluggish. And maybe this “tough run” would be an opportunity to open dialogue with clients about their tough runs.

But my biggest weapon against tough runs is a handy little mantra. This mantra helps me accept the tough run, accept my body’s limitations on the day and accept that my next run is a fresh opportunity. My tough run mantra is “That’s good training”. Short, sweet and so very true. Anyone can finish a run they find easy. But finishing a difficult run, that’s great training for both mind and body. It sucked, it was hard, it was uncomfortable but, dammit, I did it.

And that’s good training.