How I Sabotaged My Own Run

Today’s long run was really, really difficult for me.

In all honesty, I blame myself for many of the factors that led to today’s confidence shaker. My initial plan/hope was to run 12 miles. As you know, I’m training for the National 1/2 Marathon, which is on March 26.

When I woke up this morning — feeling groggy, tired and, honestly, hungover — I knew 12 miles wasn’t going to happen.

In my mind, I settled on 10 miles. I’m not concerned about my mileage for this race, I just want to get comfortable with a solid pace that will bring across the finish line in less than 2 hours. Ten miles would definitely be sufficient.

Still, I had no idea just how tough 10 miles could feel. In the past few weeks I’ve run 11 and 12 miles at a time with no problems at all. Imagine my surprise when I was completely winded today at mile two.

Here are the reasons I think today’s run was so difficult:

1. I ran yesterday morning — and again last night. Overkill? Probably. But it was so gorgeous out last night that I just couldn’t resist getting outside and enjoying it. All week long I’ve been pushing my body to the limits. I haven’t taken enough rest and recovery time, and when I started running today, my legs felt incredibly heavy. Tomorrow will be a rest day.

2. I didn’t eat enough for dinner last night. Rookie mistake that I’m not proud of. I ran, then while getting ready to go out for the night, I was snacking on cheese and crackers and baby carrots. I never had anything more substantial. I’m a firm believer in strong carbo-loading, and that didn’t happen last night. My body felt weak and not sufficiently fueled while I ran this morning.

3. I went out last night. I stayed out late and had one too many drinks. I’m honestly not upset about this factor. I have friends in town and had an absolute blast with them last night.

Girls in town from Boston!
So pretty, aren't they?

It was nice to catch up, and I felt great after two glasses of wine. So why did I order a third? Bad decisions, Ali. That last one hurt a bit.

As a result of drinking, I didn’t sleep well last night. Sure, I passed out when I got back to the apartment, but my body still woke up at 7 am. I tossed around for a while, eventually getting up at 9:30 am. I didn’t feel rested though, just awake.

4. I was dehydrated. Duh, right? I hardly drank any water while I was out last night. Usually I’m much better about that and I’ll alternate between alcoholic beverages and water. Not last night. Oops. I got a few major cramps mid-run and I blame it on the dehydration.

So that’s how I sort of planned my own downfall. I understand that even the strongest, best-trained athletes have off days. I know that one bad run doesn’t mean I’m doomed. I’m also glad I can pinpoint exactly what went wrong and I can learn from it.

Until the race, I will try to ease up on the Friday evening activities — or I’ll at least be sure to eat dinner, drink more water and pass on that last round.

Of course, there were a few other factors contributing to the rough run. Namely, the weather. It was crazy outside today!

I could hear the wind blowing from the minute I woke up. The 40-degree temperatures were great, and the sun was shining. But the majorly strong wind gusts were enough to knock you ever.

Running into the wind was exhausting — like pushing a truck. And running with the wind behind me was terrifying — like I was going to get knocked over.

Still, Central Park is always stunning, and I’ve got proof for you:

This is The Dakota — it's actually where John Lennon was shot
The ice on the Reservoir is melting!
The wind was blowing the water from the fountain all over the place
That's the Belvedere Castle on the left. If you go to the top of it, there are great views of the park!

Oh, and at one point, while I was running around the Reservoir, it started to snow! Crazy, right?

So while most things were not in my favor today — and I had to stop several times along my route to stretch and give myself a mental pep talk — I am proud of myself for sticking with the miles I had planned and adjusted to.

Needless to say that once I got back and showered, ABS and I went out for a massive brunch. I ordered an egg, ham and cheese crepe. Sadly it wasn’t that good, but hours later I’m still full from it.

Time to attempt a nap now!

TELL ME: How do you cope with running off days?



0 Responses

  1. Kudos to you for getting out and running even though you didn’t feel properly prepped! That takes balls! I would totally psyche myself out and use each of those reasons, individually and together, to postpone/cancel a long run. And the weather would just be the cherry on the top!

  2. I’m sorry you had a rough run. Gutting it out for ten miles is never easy, but now that it’s done, you can learn from it. It sounds like you know what went wrong. I’m sure next time will be better. I’m also glad to hear you’re giving yourself some extra rest today. When my long runs increase, my rest time increases as well. Enjoy your Sunday! Your next run will just be that much better!

  3. I had such an off day today, but only made it on a 2 mile run/walk-every step I took felt like i was dragging another 40-80 pounds behind me. Needless to say, I kept saying “something is always better then nothing” and did my short loop.

  4. i think its great you finished 10 miles! it was too windy for me today. i didn’t have any goal distance in mind, i just wanted to get out for a run. i ended up heading home after 4.5 miles…but i will try again tomorrow!

  5. Unfortunately, the bad runs happen, but they make the goods ones even better. You totally had a few things working against you, so at least it is comforting to know what those factors are and to avoid them going forward. Learning experience! My worst “bad run” story is from this year’s Chicago Marathon. I did everything according to plan (same meals, good sleep, etc) and still had a bum run. Around mile 3 my poor stomach started to disagree with the run. I made to mile 17 (not without hitting every port-a-potty – ICK) before I called it a day. SO MADDENING, but gave me motivation to kick my next race’s (Monster Dash half marathon on Halloween!) butt! Good luck with the rest of your training and may this be your last bad run before the race!

  6. Unfortunately some times you have bad runs even when you do everything right. You just have to put it behind you and know that you will be fine come race day! PS Don’t do 2 runs a day no matter how nice the weather is, silly girl. Great way to overdo it and end up hurt!

  7. Runs like this can be tough, but it sounds like you definitely figured out why it was a bad run. Here’s to a better run next time 🙂

  8. Off days are really important. It gives you a chance to rebuild muscle and stamina. I cope with them by biking or swimming, but sometimes (like today, because I ran and biked yesterday) I just give in and chill. 90% of distance races are a mental game so as long as I can wrap my head around it, the athletic part comes easy.
    Yes it was windy today! I had to walk to a friends house down the street from me on East End and 83rd and with every block closer to the water it got more difficult.

  9. Seems to me you’ve nailed the reasons for the bad run today. It would be worse–more mystifying–if you had done everything right (ate well, hydrated properly, etc) and STILL had a miserable run. And the wind was crazy today, though it made for a good core workout, trying to stay upright. So just consider 10 miles with all those drawbacks a damn fine performance and think how easy the next long run will be under better conditions.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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