Day #31: Running Flat


On those days when our legs are stale, our attitudes blah and our ambitions weary, we still must run. Sometimes, the toll of yesterday’s racing comes to collect in full and our thighs refuse us any rebound. On these late evenings – the earliest we can muster up a desire to run the course – we can scarcely lift our eyes from our downcast visions. Only weariness stares back in the mirror. On these days, the thought of completing a half-marathon seems impossibly hopeless, and the accomplishment of having run for a long month of days consecutively hardly elicits a smirk. We are flat.

And still, the run waits for us. Like man’s best friend – with incessant flickering tail and ever-eager panting (and paws about us with jumping up) – the run calls for us, whines for us, complains to us. “When?” it whimpers, “It is already 10 in the evening and you have yet to run me! When?!”

We have been putting it off – this chore of forgotten joy. We forget that this is our one life, that to run is freedom itself, that a great grace of today is the gift of a distance run. We are ungrateful and flat.

Surely, you know these days. Maybe today is one for you. When you finally get outside and shoes tied, the first footfalls are agony, the breathing – though not labored – is a series of sharp stingings. And the legs have nothing in them. The slightest upward grade weighs with the full tug of gravity – it is “the unbearable heaviness of being” on these days.

So, what are we to do on days when we are flat and uninspired. Here are 3 ideas – not so much remedies as coping strategies:

1. On a day when your legs are not bouncing back, when the strides are more empty thuds than springy rebounds, stay hydrated, maybe sip an extra cup of joe, and try run on varying and rolling terrain if you can. In addition, think about throwing a fartlek into the run. Sometimes you can jumpstart out of the “flat-lands” by changing speeds and terrain.

2. Read some inspiring running quotes and read a few upbeat articles from this blog. For example, here are a few ideas: Day #6: To Run is Enough or Days 1-3 — Start here with “Day #1: Beginning Again”. Also, consider the wisdom of some who have trodden through such difficulties in their own time:

“Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.”            ~Steve Prefontaine

“My philosophy on running is, I don’t dwell on it, I do it.” ~Joan Benoit Samuelson

Part of a runner’s training consists of pushing back the limits of his mind..” ~Kenny Moore

3. When not only our bodies are stale and depleted, but also our aspirations, reflect upon the distance already run – the great string of consecutive runs in your streak. Think back to your initial goals in starting upon this course in the first place, and be inspired by what you have already accomplished! Think on your former victories to overcome the nagging potential defeat which confronts you now.

And when all else fails, just go run. You can do this!

~Coach Reed

And for more running inspiration, listen again to “A Runner’s Podcast.” Go to iTunes right now — and don’t forget to give us a 5-star rating if it does the trick for you today:)

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