In the last edition of "Got To Run," I told of how I was disappointed in myself for only being able to complete two of the five miles that had been scheduled for that day. I also mentioned this feeling of disappointment escalating after finding out that not everyone I know is in favor of my newly acquired running habit. So, with these negative thoughts in my head, I was worried about the group run that was scheduled for Monday of this week. I knew only going 2 miles with the group wasn't going to cut it. But, I was worried that if my tired muscles and lack of concentration stuck around, I wouldn't be able to run much more than that.
Walking the Hill
Despite this worry still lingering on Monday, I gathered my gear after work and headed to meet my group for our 5-mile run. As soon as we started out, I fell to the back and stayed there for a good mile or so. There was a spot above my left eye throbbing with headache, my muscles were still tired and sluggish, and I was upset that I wasn't more toward the front of the group like I usually am. Just when I started yearning to stop, the other members of the group began expressing how they weren't feeling their greatest either. Because of this, our group leaders suggested that we walk up the first hill on the course. Knowing that a break was coming (even if it did include trudging up a very steep hill) gave me just the mental boost I needed. I felt better on that last bit before the hill than any part of the course before it. It also helped to know that I wasn't the only one not feeling the best.
Running with the Leader
After resuming our run, a group leader and I pulled ahead. We were the first in our group to make it to the first water stop. We remained in the lead for the rest of the run. While running together, we had a nice conversation about the upcoming 10K for which we're training and other run-related stuff. She suggested that I not worry about pacing myself with our group for the 10K. Rather, I should set my sights on a runner that's slightly ahead of me and pace myself with them. Since my last run had struck my confidence level down a few notches, I took this as some much needed encouragement. She also speculated that the cause of my sluggish and weary muscles might be an iron deficiency. If that's the case, she said I should try to eat more foods with iron in them like red meat and spinach. I guess it pays to run with a group leader; you get a lot of good advice that way!
We completed the course with only a couple additional walk breaks. I felt so accomplished! I had powered through what could have been a very tough run. Following a few drinks of Gatorade and water, my group leader and I waited for the rest of our group. After standing for a bit, a brief, but overwhelming wave of exhaustion came over me and I had to sit down. I was worried that I'd been a little overzealous, but soon the exhaustion passed and I was back to feeling like myself.
Recovering from this bout of exhaustion felt good! I had proven to myself that one bad run does not define me. In that moment, I also decided to do my best to disregard other people's opinions about my running. It makes me feel accomplished and healthy. ...and nothing wrong can come of that.
- If you're trying for you best time on race day, don't run with people that are slower than you. You will automatically slow down to match their pace. Instead, find someone in the crowd ahead of you with a similar pace. Keep them in your sights and pace with them. This will help runners who are just starting out (like me!) keep a more consistent pace throughout the race.
- If you're feeling more tired and weaker than usual, you could have an iron deficiency. Alleviate this by eating iron-rich foods like red meat and spinach.
- Don't take other people's opinions to heart. Despite what their creators may think, opinions are not facts. Just because someone thinks something doesn't mean that's the way it is.