Monday, June 6, 2011

You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em

Here is how I see it.  When you put your shoes on and head out the door for a run, one of four things is going to happen:

1. You think you're going to have a good run and you do.

2. You think you're going to have a good run but you don't.

3. You think you're going to have a bad run and you do.

4. You think you're going to have a bad run and you don't.

I cycle through all four options so regularly that it feels like I should just write them down on pieces of paper and pull one out of a hat before I head out. 

I should probably clarify what I mean by bad run.

Sometimes, it's about battling shin, calf or foot pain that starts out bad and gets worse rather than better as the run progresses.  That's just so discouraging. Sometimes it's about riding the blood sugar roller coaster and either having to eat a lot of unwanted food just to keep the blood sugars steady or it's about running through a high which feels awful in a way that only someone who has done it can really understand.  Sometimes it's about just feeling blah and every step seems heavy and laboured. 

Good runs are much easier to describe.  The body does what you want it to.  The blood sugars behave.  Nothing hurts and you feel strong and capable.  The best runs are the ones when I run the distance and a) can't believe how fast it went by and b) want to keep running.   

I don't think it's a simple as saying that it's all about attitude.  If I always had bad runs, I would say that perhaps I need to check my attitude to make sure that I'm not causing them myself.  Negative thinking and all that jazz.  But I don't always have bad runs.  I'd say, on average, I have at least twice as many good ones, maybe even three times as many good ones as bad ones.

What's crazy is that I cannot find a pattern.  There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for how a run will turn out. I've headed out countless times feeling awful - headachy, sore legs, exhausted after a long day at work -  fully expecting to suffer through a run.  Ten minutes in, I'm bounding down the road feeling great and I come home ready to take on the world. 

Other times I feel great, am well rested, well stretched and pain free.  I head out and, five minutes in, know that the run is not going to be pretty.

I've had great runs despite low expectations and a fabulous attitude does not guarante a fabulous run.

Sometimes I find it really frustrating.  I wish there was something I could do to understand what makes a good run - because who wouldn't want good runs every time?

Then I think that perhaps what makes a good run is actually all the bad ones.  Because, having struggled through some pretty rough ones, I recognize and appreciate the good ones.  I'm grateful when the run is good and the memory of running well carries me through the times when I hobble more than I run.

I guess it's a bit like gambling.  If the gambler always loses, they're probably going to stop gambling.  But sometimes they win.  Sometimes they win big.  And that keeps them coming back for more.

Purple dice - sweet!  

1 comment:

  1. You seem to have found a pattern. Similarily for me; a crappy nite sleep, feeling tired + crappy rainy, windy weather = best run. Good nite sleep, feeling full of energy + warm/hot weather = bad run. Go figure. I think it's the low expectations on those crappy days, cuz well...things can only get better, right? But we all want to have those great runs on sunny, energetic days. I'm learning to not let the crappy runs get me down, cuz there's always a superman-like run just around the corner.