Bad Angel Rule #198

Overcome Long-Run Anxiety.

Do you get nervous before your long runs? You’re not alone. Forget pre-race jitters, most of us get nervy before every single long run. Why?

Here, I explore a few theories and ways to redirect your anxiety into a productive and comfortable long run you can look forward trelaxo.

It’s uncharted territory. You’ve never run this many miles before, and that’s scary. This is the most obvious reason to be worried, and we all feel your pain.
Remember: You’ve gotten this far and every step up until now was once uncharted. Turn your fear into excitement; you are about to make personal history.

The Wall. At some point in your running career, you will hit the wall. When you do, you’ll know. And when you know, you will always have a healthy amount of respect (fear) for it.
Remember: Even if you do hit the wall, you will survive. You’ll learn, adapt and become a better runner because of it.

Injury. Another valid fear; nobody wants to be sidelined.
Remember: Injuries happen over time, not during one single run. Unfortunately, though, it’s during those long runs when we discover that we can no longer ignore the truth.

It’s a test. We all fear tests because what if we fail?
Remember: Everything you do on a long run is practice, not a test. What you eat, what you wear, what you listen to, the route you take and even the people you run with (if any). Treat it as practice. It’s not a pass/fail situation, it’s simply a chance to learn.

There are so many ways to strategize the long run, ways to prepare and tackle the miles, but what brings me the most comfort is knowing that I’m not alone when I feel anxious. We all have a little fear when it comes to these big bad runs because they demand our respect. They are the cornerstone to our training plans, and without them, we couldn’t line up at the start. (Now, don’t even get me started on THOSE nerves.) — Amie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Song of the Week

“Fresh Blood” by Eels

Have you watched “The Jinx” on HBO yet? No? WHY THE HELL NOT?!? This creepily delicious song is used to great effect in the Robert Durst docuseries’ compelling opening title sequence. It’s just freaking perfect. (However, I’ll be sure to listen to this one only during daylight hours.) — Mags

Things You Shouldn’t Say To An Injured Runner

Things You Shouldn’t Say To An Injured Runner

“What’s the big deal?”

 

“Have you tried ____? What about ____? Have you thought about doing ____?”

Gosh, no! I didn’t know you were a doctor! Thank you so much!

 

“Tell me all about how you got injured and your long timeline of rehab and treatments because talking about it more is exactly what you want to do.”

Nope. Don’t wanna talk about it. And let’s be real, you don’t really want to hear about it. So let’s just not do this.

 

“Let me tell you about my injury that I had a long time ago that is in no way related to yours.”

Misery loves company, right? Right.

 

“Can’t you just take up swimming or biking?”

No. No I can’t.

 

“See? I told you running is terrible for you.”

Punch. Stab. Kill.

 

Things You SHOULD Say To An Injured Runner

 

“I’m sorry. That sucks. I know how important running is to you.”

That’s all we want to hear. Seriously. It’s that simple.

Long Story Short

I’ve written so much about my ongoing injury in this space over the last five months that, frankly, I’m sick of it — and I’m guessing you are, too.

I’m sick of being in pain, of doctor visits, of physical therapy. So let me bring you up to speed as quickly as possible:

Yes, I’ve been cleared to run again. No, I’m not completely healthy.

Yes, the bursitis in my left hip is pretty much healed, following three cortisone injections in two different areas. But now I’m dealing with piriformis syndrome, which causes pain in my butt, back and hip, and a host of related problems stemming from months of my body compensating for injury. Yes, I legit sit on pillows all the time, even while driving, to help keep the pain at bay.

Yes, I’m still going to physical therapy, only this time, I’m going to a “manual therapy” expert. Our sessions consist of lots of dry needling, deep tissue massage, ultrasound and stretching, and only a few exercises (no more friggin’ band walks, thank goodness).

Yes, my previous four months of physical therapy worked because I am considerably stronger and more flexible. No, my previous four months of physical therapy did not work because I am still in almost constant pain.

Yes, I’m still planning to run the Illinois Half Marathon on April 25. Yes, I realize it is only five weeks away. No, I’m not crazy.

Yes, I’m still incredibly frustrated, but I am optimistic. Yes, I have felt optimistic before only to have my pain and injury backslide. But no, I will not let that stop me from feeling hopeful again.

Yes, I would like to go for a run with you. And no, I don’t want to talk about my injury anymore. — Mags

 

Race Recap: Heart Mini Marathon 2015

Looking back at last year’s Heart Mini race recap, I realize how different the race was for me this year. While my finish time was nearly identical (spoiler alert: I ran the race exactly one minute slower than in 2014), the race felt and meant much different things to me this time around.

I went into the 2015 race coming off an exceptionally great training run. And also, a big week of training. (Read: Dead legs.)

I halfheartedly wanted to run Sunday’s 15K race at my desired spring race pace and give it my all, but I wasn’t really THAT committed to it. While this was a race, it was also just a 9.3-mile training run to help me prepare for my spring half marathons. Ultimately, my husband, Keith, and I decided we would run the race together, at race pace, until Keith peeled off to add the extra miles for the half marathon.

Heart Mini Marathon

Aaand, they’re off!

Technology Fail

Cut to race morning. It was setting up to be a pretty beautiful day, despite the flooding Ohio River, which had forced race officials to change the course at the last minute.

Keith and I found our way to the 9-minute pace group and set our GPS watches on a mission for satellite signals about 15 minutes before the race began.

Just as I crossed the start line, I looked down to start the timer on my Garmin … which was STILL SEARCHING FOR A SATELLITE SIGNAL. Sonofa! I sucked a calming breath through my nose and decided to stick with the pace group and start my watch at the first mile marker once my watch (hopefully) found a signal outside of the confines of the downtown buildings.

Half a mile in, Keith announced that his watch had a signal, while I was still cursing at my loading bar. We ran into one of Keith’s co-workers, and he helped me trouble shoot my watch — which included two restarts — as we cruised past the first mile marker.

Still no signal.

I was getting more frustrated and frantic. “Don’t worry,” Keith said, “You can just run with the pace group.”

“No, I can’t,” I pleaded, “I’m only running the 15K, remember? I’m not going to have any idea what my pace is or how far I’ve gone.” Oh, the agony.

“Here, just use my watch,” Keith gallantly offered.

I refused him because I knew if our roles were reversed, I would not want to run a half marathon GPS-free. I could suck it up. I would suck it up.

But as those pace balloons bounced farther and farther ahead, I felt the miles of my tough training week weighing me down. I felt myself giving up as I became more and more frustrated with my watch. Frustration grew to anger, and now I was irrationally LIVID with my stupid watch.

Keith offered me his GPS one last time. He took it off his wrist as he said, “Give me your watch. Take mine.”

I didn’t turn him down this time.

I clumsily strapped the monstrous thing to my wrist, and he gave me a tutorial about the features and functions while we ran at what was becoming a rapidly uncomfortable pace.

Around mile 3, I waved Keith ahead. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold the 9-minute pace for the entire race. It just wasn’t there yet.

Keep On Keepin’ On

A few minutes later, I relaxed a bit and started running more comfortably. According to Keith’s watch, a 9:15 pace. “Hey,” I thought, “That’s not so bad.” And suddenly, the giant Garmin flew off my wrist and landed on the other side of the road. I panicked and ran back to get it.

His and hers non-working watches.

His and hers non-working watches.

“$@#%! #%^&! WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!”

I held the watch, now in two pieces, and fired the screen back on. Yes! It was working. No! This meant that I was going to have to carry the damn thing in my hand for, like, 6 miles.

I stood there for a moment, trying to figure out what to do. (And trying to figure out what all of the buttons on Keith’s watch do.) And then I did the only thing I could do. I kept going.

I looked at the sun rising on the horizon and remembered this was just a training run. No need to lose my mind. Just keep moving and get the miles in.

Soon enough, we reached the turnaround and looped back toward the city (and avoided the big hill at Delta we had to run last year). I walked through the water stops, took my ShotBloks and rocked out to some tunes.

Finishing Lessons

As I got closer to the city, the only thing standing in my way was the massive hill of the interstate ramp. But I’ve been working hills into my training plan, and I felt really strong as I picked off runner after runner until I reached the top.

A beautiful day for a run.

A beautiful day for a run.

We cruised back downtown, where we had to add more miles. Here is where I really missed my watch. There were no mile markers, I had no idea how far I still had to run or where the course was taking me, and I was pretty gassed from that giant hill. It felt like we kept running for MILES in town (all told, it was probably only 1.5), but it hurrrrrrt.

We came up one last surprise hill (ooof!) and turned a few more corners to the finish line. I finished steady and really, really, REALLY ready to be done. The finish-line clock said 1:29:36, so I knew I had actually finished the race pretty darn close to my long-run pace — without the guidance of GPS.

I also had no idea what the ACTUAL time was, but I guessed I probably had 30 minutes to grab some water, hit up a port-o-let and wrap up in a space blanket while I watched Keith finish the half marathon. I took care of all of the necessities and found a sunny spot a quarter-mile from the finish.

I cheered on runners as they came into that last finish turn, and soon enough, Keith appeared in the finishing stretch (two minutes faster than scheduled!). I ran him into the finish as we both babbled about the race.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I need a back-up plan for potential Garmin satellite issues during the Flying Pig Half Marathon.
  • I need to mentally prepare for race day and find a better way to manage the miles (and discomfort), so I don’t do things like lose my mind over a GPS signal.
  • I need to race with my brain, not react with my emotions. Logically, I knew I’d run a lot of challenging miles last week. So LOGICALLY, I should have started the Heart Mini slower and allowed myself the reserves to finish the race stronger, instead of fading into the distance.
  • Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like The Wind” always puts me in a better mood.
  • My Garmin can’t run a race for me.
  • Training runs are for training. Some are good, some are bad, all are chances to learn. — Aidz

 

 

The Same But Different

My favorite place, ever.

One of my absolute favorite places to run, in this whole wide world, is on the Little Miami Bike Trail, which starts in Newtown and ends around Springfield, Ohio. The trail is more than 75 miles long, it’s paved and maintained, and every half-mile is gloriously marked for your mindless running pleasure. It’s also flat as a pancake, which is hard to find in Cincinnati. I’ve heard people complain that it’s boring, and while the scenery is much the same for most of the way, the scenery is beautiful. Woods, rivers and other active people running, riding and enjoying the trail made just for us.

I’ve been starting my runs at the Avoca Trail Head for the last nine years. NINE. I have landmarks in my head that I rely on to trigger relaxation, persistence and resolution. When I see the first wooden fence and slight curve, I know I’m coming up on the 1.5-mile mark. When I see the bridge going over the trail, I’m almost to the 2.5-mile mark. The road crossing the trail is almost three miles, and so on and so on. There are even certain trees that have meaning, not to mention the potties in Milford. There are certain people I see almost every time I run, the “regulars” who always smile and nod in mutual respect. (Hey, woman I chatted with, pushing a double-stroller while training for Boston, this nod’s for you.)

bridge

The 2.5-mile marker is now my starting line.

But now it’s different. I moved. The trail hasn’t changed, but my vantage point has. The 2.5-mile marker is now my start line. Which way do I run? Depending which way I choose, my old starting point is now my half-way point. Mentally I want to stop and get in my car, but I have to turn around and run home. I’m not complaining, I feel very lucky to be able to run to and from the trail from my new house, but I’m all messed up. I have to re-train my brain with new landmarks, new places to rest and new places to push through. It constantly amazes me how mental running can be, and during my long run this weekend, that fact was front and center.

This tranquil resting spot used to remind me that we were almost finished. Not anymore.

I suppose I’ll spend the next nine years re-mapping my beloved trail with those mental cues to help me along the way, but for today, the struggle is real. I’m in familiar territory with a completely unfamiliar foundation. The scenery remains the same, but the feelings that come along with every tree, nook and turn are all very different. — Amie

Stepping Out From the Shadow of Doubt

This winter, my training has been very focused and purposeful. For the first time in my life, I’m doing actual speedwork and following a training plan that includes timed runs, tempo runs and hill training.

So far, it’s been great. I feel myself getting faster and stronger.

At the same time, I feel neurotic and inadequate.

Because this is a new training plan, I’m in unfamiliar territory — and it’s scary! I’ve been doing my long runs according to my training plan, which means they are 30-45 seconds slower than my desired race pace. In practice, it’s awesome. It’s a comfortable pace for me, and I know I can sustain that pace over distance.

But running 30-45 seconds faster than my long-run pace on race day feels totally daunting.

To add to my neurosis, my husband is following the exact same training plan, only his miles are adjusted for a full marathon. We matched mileage at the beginning of year, but now he’s running 14/16/18 miles on a given Saturday, causing me to feel woefully (and irrationally) inadequate about my own half marathon race preparations.

Then last week, I had a breakthrough.

I had a 5-mile run at race pace on my schedule, and, quite frankly, I was scared of it — or rather, of my imminent failure. I was almost positive I could not do it. See, when you set goals in January, it’s fun and exciting. When the rubber meets the road in the spring, it’s scary and sometimes disappointing. I have a few bad runs under my belt, and combined with the other things I just mentioned, it has all been messing with my head.

Cue the waterworks.

Cue the waterworks.

I begrudgingly set out for my 5-miler and figured I’d go as long as I could at race pace then call it a day. As the miles ticked by, I was … totally fine. Sure, it wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t dying, either. After I logged four miles, I knew I totally had it in the bag. Holy crap, you guys! Training works! I finished the run with a victory lap around my office and wiped tears of joy from my eyes.

Yeah, sure, it was just a little training run. But it was also the farthest I’ve ever run at race pace, and probably the fastest I’ve ever run five miles. It was more than joy. It was hope. It was pride. It was RELIEF.

I realized I might just be able to pull off this crazy thing after all. And more importantly, I realized I do not need to be scared of training runs. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. But as long as you’re willing to give it a shot, you just might surprise yourself. — Aidz