What happens when your heart (figuratively) just ain't feeling the run?
How do you know when to call it quits, turn around and head for home? Or, if you're pounding out some miles on the treadmill, how do you know when to pull the power?
Let me set the scene...
Winter has really turned on me. Granted, I'm a self-professed summer gal who much prefers the heat (and subsequent humidity) to the frozen tundra of winter. I've lived in the Midwest all of my life, though, so I know how to deal with the cold (even when it gets extreme).
The past four weeks of winter have been especially cold (Polar Vortex, anyone?) and icy. So, I have had to keep most of my runs inside. Although I can tolerate an occasional treadmill run, my treadmill has not seen this much action since the winter of 2005/06, when I was a new runner and didn't know different.
On Thursday, February 14th (2019) at approximately 5:40 a.m., I completed my 10th run on the treadmill this winter. Would you believe all of those treadmill runs happened in a matter of 27 days? Quite frankly, my runner's heart is struggling to stay in the game. Scratch that, I have not lost any mojo, whatsoever. The cabin fever, though, has become chronic and my mind and body need to get back outside and away from Milly.
I do a lot of 5-mile runs. The 5-mile distance is kind of a benchmark for me...it takes less than an hour (including warm-up and cool-down), so the time commitment is minimal. The 5-miler is not too long, but it's definitely a legit distance whether you're going easy or attempting a tempo-paced run. The bulk of my 5-milers happen in the early hours of the day (known as my #5a5's...five miles at 5:00 a.m.).
Over the course of those five miles, here's what my H.E.A.R.T. will typically experience:
*Mile 1 is usually hard, because my body is still in the process of waking up.
*During mile 2, things start to feel easier, as I get into a steady pace.
*By mile 3, my body has pretty much acclimated to the elements...the temps, the terrain,etc.
*Mile 4 usually has me in a steady rhythm and my body is just going with the flow.
*Finally, mile 5 leaves me feeling triumphant!
This monumental 10th treadmill run (mentioned above) was one of those runs that just felt a bit off, from start to finish, and my HEART just wasn't in it. I awoke before my alarm (which is pretty common, even with a 4:30 wake-up on tap). My body felt stiff and DOMS-laden from an upper body/ab workout (approximately 36 hours prior). My lower back was achy, too (probably a result of the several rounds of heavy snow shoveling earlier in the week). Also, this would be yet another #5at5 on my own (instead of with my running friend) and it would be on the treadmill (again).
The first 1/2-mile was at an easy warm-up pace, then I started increasing the speed slightly in 1/2-mile increments after that. Each mile actually felt easier (ironically, considering they were progressively getting faster), but I just wasn't enjoying the experience. I realize not every run is going to feel sensational, but attempting to knock out five miles with a tired body wasn't a great scenario, especially on the treadmill. I made it to four miles and decided to call it quits....before things got ugly.
After those four miles, I probably could have soldiered on and done a fifth mile. But, I had the idea in my mind (before I even laced up) that I could stop after four miles. I've gone on and done extra distance on similar runs that felt "off," so I know my body can win out over my mind. My gut just told me to end it right there, right then...and I chose to respect it. By stopping when I did, I can say the run ended on a high note because I really wasn't feeling defeated (yet). Had I gone on, I suspect I may have struggled (even without increasing the speed further). However, there's also the slight chance I would have felt accomplished for sucking it up and doing that final mile. Oh well, I guess I will never know, but I'm okay with that.
Bottom line, I chose to simply stop and called it good. No regrets.
The thing is, although I have some 10K's happening in a few weeks, as well as a 10-miler in early April, I have a strong cardio and endurance base. I didn't need to risk injury by forcing a run (or even an extra mile) when my body clearly needed a little more down time. Besides, I have been pretty lucky in that most of these treadmill runs have gone well thus far...a few have even left me giddy with of all kinds of endorphins.
What would you have done? Have you ever cut a run short, even though you knew you could have probably run longer?
I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey for the Friday with Fairytales and Fitness link-up.