Just How Should We Feel When We Run?

I’m not going to mention any names, but here is a message I got from one of my Club members, a friend, and also an athlete I coach one-on-one:

” I feel really slow and . . . . I just always hurt whether I’m running a lot or not. I get through it, but not sure why I feel like that.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about what she said, and about how she feels.

I can relate to the “feeling slow” part — I ran yesterday on the beach, around 11AM.  It was sunny, hot and humid.  It was close to low tide, so there was lots of shells along the shore line and lots of people collecting them.  I also know, because I do like to go shelling myself, that lots of those shells still house living sea life.  So I try not to run on the shells.  The crunching sound bothers me and I feel like I’m killing something important.  So, I spent a lot of time dodging people and dodging shells — all of which meant I spent a lot of time running in soft sand and running on a sloped surface.  Of course, this is all just a bunch of excuses to answer for the Garmin data that I kept seeing — I was running around 11 minute pace.   And I thought about my athlete’s comments about her running.  “I feel so slow, things hurt.”

I do need to say that mid-way through my run I spotted a pile of shells that I just couldn’t pass by.  (And I’m grateful for the awesome pockets in my Coeur Sports little black tri top so I could carry my treasures with me!)

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Here’s what I was wondering, just how are we supposed to feel when we are running?  I know I was tired yesterday, I ran 15 on Sunday, and biked 68 on Tuesday.  My legs were obviously tired, and I’d guess (as a coach) that I wasn’t fully recovered.  I also couldn’t get my heart rate or pace up so I know what that means.  And yes, I keep making more excuses!

I still feel good about yesterday’s run.  I ran and I walked 7 miles yesterday, and averaged for the run portion around 11 minutes per mile.  I enjoyed the sites — the Gulf of Mexico, the wildlife preserves, the people out making the best of the day.  I ran 8:30 pace comfortably the day before, and a half marathon at just under 9 minute pace last weekend.  And yesterday my run averaged 11 minute pace.   So, just how are we supposed to feel running anyway?  Running is hard.  Sometimes we feel great, and sometimes we don’t.

I have an idea.  For me, for my athlete, for all of us.  Let’s just take the pressure off ourselves.  Maybe sometimes we just need to take the watch off, the heart rate monitor off, and run because we can.  Forget about the pace.  Forget about the distance.  Just run, and enjoy it because we can.  What’s the alternative?  Those options make me really sad.

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