The Hard Days

As soon as I started the run I knew it was going to be hard. If you’re a runner you have likely had one of these days. When it seems to take all your energy just to put one foot in front of the other, and it feels like you’re going to fight your body for each step. Well, it was one of those days. As I ran for those first few minutes I tried to clear my mind, relax my shoulders and just warm up into it, I had a four-hour run ahead, I had to get my head right and not let this early difficulty mess with my head game.

The first km’s ticked away, they weren’t easy and flowing but they weren’t the worst. I had been considering naming my poles, and at the start of the run Jack and Jill (of went up the hill fame!) came into my head. I occupied my mind trying to think up alternate words to the rhyme, something catchy to make me smile and get me through the hard yards…I didn’t nail it but it took my mind off how I was feeling for a while.

Nearing the top of the switchbacks.

Then I hit the climbing! Well if the rolling ‘flats’ had been hard, the climbing was, well, horrible! It just sucked. As I got higher, it got colder and windier, and the clouds closed in around me, it was just dry, dusty earth, rocks, scrub and mist making it feel like all that existed in the world were me and the never-ending climbing switchbacks in front of me (pretty cool actually, in the suffering I could appreciate the beauty of it!). In an attempt to improve how my body was feeling I sucked back a gel which helped (or was it just the fact that I had nearly reached the top…hmmm coincidence? I think not) The top was howling wind, grey, and humid yet cold at the same time. I caught my breath found my flow and enjoyed running a few km’s down the track and into the forest on the other side.

The forest was also shrouded in mist and so dark for late morning, it was like another world, peaceful and still. Coming up to my time point for turn around I saw I was only about 1.5km away from making it a nice round 30km return trip so I figured I’d keep going. I hit the 15km mark and turned back to make my way out again. Faced with heading back up the cruisy downhill forest track I had been enjoying running down I sipped back another gel in an attempt to keep my body moving how I wanted it to. The run back (up) was hard but not as bad as it had been on the climb in. I’d had a bright idea for a future run pop into my head and the km’s flew by as I dreamed and planned about this future run. And so I flowed, until I didn’t, and the kilometers still left to go loomed in front of me!

My body had had enough, I had pushed it with sheer will power right from the start and it was protesting with some nausea and general shitty feeling. I hadn’t listened, I had pushed through and it was going to slow me down whether I liked it or not. At 1km to go there is a sign at a fork in the road, and I just stopped and rested on my poles, exhausted mentally and physically. I didn’t feel like I even had 1km left in me, but there was only one way out and that was on my own two feet.

I walked/ran that last km to the car and spent some time gathering myself. What the hell happened out there?!

I spent a lot of time on the run alternately battling with my mind and my body (which is never going to go well!?), and trying to relax, accept, and address the issues. Ultimately, it wasn’t all ‘bad’ but it was hard and there were a bunch of lessons to be learnt.

I could have called it at the start of the run (but if you know anything about me by now you’ll know I’m not a quitter!), and I’m glad I didn’t. Sometimes runs don’t give you what you want – they give you what you need.

What about that run did I need!? To experience everything going wrong from the beginning and to push through and to still be able to find the moments of joy and happiness within the crappiness. I don’t know what Northburn is going to throw at me, at the miler distance, anything can happen! But this run gave me another experience in the bank that I can draw on when the going gets tough.

Coppermine Saddle

– Sleep is soooo important, I’d been sleeping poorly in the days before this run – it adds up!
– Food! I’d been eating poorly in the days before this run…are we seeing a pattern yet?!
– Hormones, hands up my ladies who lose alll their energy in the week before their period, any solutions for me?
– Nutrition and fluid on the day. It was really humid and I didn’t drink enough because I’d used a bladder and had miscalculated how much I had consumed. Gels…I think my gel days are numbered, my body seems to be fighting these little sugar hits and I’m on the lookout for a better fueling option – Spring energy? Suggestions? Hmm…
– My head game was off. For whatever reason, maybe all of the above, I struggled not to let the negatives overcome me, and I spent way more time ‘battling’ than i’d have liked as battling using more energy than it’s worth!

So, what was your best and simultaneously ‘worse’ (most needed) run you can remember?

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