7 PUKEY MILES // THE IMPORTANCE OF STRETCHING
Because not every run is all unicorns, rainbows, and super fast splits. The final run of week three (aka Sunday's run and my last outside run for close to 3 weeks!) of training was an absolute shit show. Like, I wasn't even 5 minutes in when I knew it was going to be a brutal struggle to run as far as I had intended to. I was shooting for 8 miles, so I could round out the week at 40 miles total. I didn't even give have 7 rice cakes for breakfast that morning at 4:20 a second thought. Or even consider the fact that I had only gotten like 6 hours of sleep the night prior. Oh, and I hadn't stretched/foam rolled in 3 days.
I should preface the description of this run with the fact that I never eat right before I run...ever. I am the type of person who hates running fasted, especially when it's leg day and I know I have a super long run scheduled as well. However, I know from past experience that I perform best when I'm either fasted...or eat something light like a cup of cereal 3-4 hours before I run. So, when you run at 5:45 a.m. (4:45 when I'm in college and running in the dungeon)...that requires your body to wake you up at like 1 or 2 a.m. to eat. Which, when you're not in bed til 10:30 is kind of impossible.
So, naturally, I wake up absolutely starving at 4:15 Sunday morning. And even though I could have just ate a banana or apple and probably been okay...I was in the mood for rice cakes. And not the plain, lightly salted kind either. Which, in retrospect, probably would have made the run a little more bearable. Oh no, I just had to eat a sleeve of tomato basil rice cakes. In case you're not familiar with rice cakes (they are pretty much the most delicious snack on the planet in my opinion) there are 7 of them to a sleeve...so I did the math and figured eating all 7 (a total of 350 calories) would be perfectly fine an hour and 20 minutes before my run. Plus, I rationalized that with my half coming up in September...I needed to teach my body to be able to run with at least something in it.
Usually the first 3 miles of my run goes by in the blink of an eye. I run my fastest miles during that time, deal with all the hills while I have the most energy/motivation, and I don't really struggle mentally/physically until lap 2 aka the next 2.5ish miles. Not the case for this run at all. I cannot even tell you how many times during that first lap I felt like I needed to just stop and throw up. Or just scrap the run completely. Or how every time I burped I could taste the tomato basil and how that just made me want to puke even more. That combined with how shitty my legs felt made getting through the 7 miles quite the challenge.
Again at around 5 miles I contemplated just heading back towards the gym and calling it a day. Especially as I ran up main street and past a trash can that was legit calling my name. The only reason I didn't stop to try to get those shitty rice cakes out of my stomach was because I was afraid of not being able to get back running again. So, I told myself to just wait and see how I felt when I got to the fire station and had to choose between heading towards the finish line or adding on those dreaded last few hills. Obviously, I didn't really feel any better but I added on the hills anyhow.
And man did I feel like I was running through freaking quick sand on that first "hill" aka super long, gradual drawn out incline that I thought would never end. And as I turned to go down hill and prepare for the next hill (let's face it our town has way too many freaking hills!!!) I saw exactly what I needed to see to get me through that last 1.5 miles. Yup, you guessed it. A dog. Like a really cute dog that wasn't even barking and was just standing in someone's front yard watching me. Silently cheering me on to go the distance. Even if it meant only running 7 miles instead of 8. And that was all the motivation I needed to complete the rest of my run. That was also the only dog I saw over the course of my four runs while I was home so I that was a pretty special run overall, even though it sucked for the most part.
This run in particular really taught me that value of having bad runs/bad days/ bad workouts. That when you're able to get through those days, it makes anything feel possible. It also taught me that stretching and foam rolling after every run (AND REST DAYS TOO) is an absolute must...no matter how drunk or tired you are at the end of the day. DO IT. Also, rice cakes are not always your best friend...especially if you have a long run to get in that day. I finished week 3 of half-marathon training with 39 miles...and I AM SO FUCKING PROUD OF THAT MILEAGE. Especially the fact that 4 of those 6 runs were done at an average pace of 9:25 or better.
Now, the real challenge is getting through these next several weeks of treadmill running!