In an effort to find out why my recent runs have been totally terrible, I turned to Google. I typed in “Why do I suck at…” and was presented with a variety of un-helpful options such as…
I was looking for reasons why I suck at running recently. This time last year, I was at my peak. This year I can barely run 5K without suffering terribly. Usually, I would chalk this up to a bad day. Not all runs are great. Sometimes even 3 or 4 kilometres is a struggle. But this has been a month-long trend and I am starting to get concerned that this half marathon is less than 50 days away and this training is not the happy, easy ramp up I imagined.
After some research and thoughtful analysis of what I’ve been up to lately, I landed on these five possible reasons that I am running like a wounded animal instead of the badass marathon runner I know I am.
Running without warming up
Guilty. I usually say that my first 1-2 kilometres are my warm up and try to run them slowly before I get into my desired pace. While that can be an OK strategy, research confirms that there is no replacement for a proper warm-up. Some leg swings, dynamic lunches and high-knee running before you set out can make a big difference. Just 5-10 minutes. I can do that.
Using running as license to eat anything you want
Eek. This is a big one. I love eating and I often use exercise as my free pass to eat anything and everything. But the reality is, if I’m fuelling my body with junk, how can I expect it to perform well when I’m running? Bad logic. I must eat better. Luckily, Runner’s World featured these awesome post-run pastas in their September issue recently so I’m inspired to try some.
We’ve had a pretty mild summer this year, so I never really got used to running in the heat. The last couple outdoor runs I’ve had have been terrible, but it’s also been a bright sunny day, with temperatures close to 30C. The reality is, heat slows you down and makes running harder. It elevates your heart rate and makes you prone to dehydration. This is a good thing to keep in mind since the half marathon is mid-October, the weather is bound to be a little cooler.
This is a big one. Stress can have a big impact on your body including headaches, difficulty sleeping, and elevated heart rate, to name a few. With a challenging career and the perpetual feeling that I never have enough time in a day, stress is something I’m pretty used to. With the summer months behind us now, my schedule should free up a bit which will help.
The last couple of times I’ve headed out for a run, I’ve left thinking, “Ugh. I don’t want to do this. It’s going to suck.” And guess what? It sucked. So much of running is mental, including your pre-run attitude. Typically, my form of internal motivation borders on heckling. I must revise this strategy. Clearly, it is not working. Before I head out the door next time, I am going to give myself a little pep talk.
Have you ever gotten into a running slump? What strategies did you use to get back at it?