The intention of today’s run was to run a 5:00min/km pace in anticipation of Saturday’s Richmond Park 10km. The idea was something in the way of keeping the legs ticking over, without pushing the limit too hard. As the run got going, the pace picked up and I couldn’t quite strike the balance between what felt comfortable and what began to teeter on a tempo. The end pace finished at 4:51min/km. I was tired and a little concerned, primarily because of my inability to sustain the pace comfortably over a relatively short distance.
By the time I staggered to close, I was suitably out of breath. I hadn’t pushed the pace at all but it had all been enough to require a solemn sit down by Itchen River and think about what had gone wrong. I watched the clouds for a long time, passing weightlessly and quietly above me and listened to my breathing quieten and my chest settle.
Bad runs happen and sometimes it’s difficult to know why. They come by often enough and hence the giddy abandon with which most runners celebrate a “good run”or a personal best. Good runs are not the norm. Certainly, I feel good after most runs, but it is rare to feel good whilst within one. I have felt closer to crying than laughing on more occasions than I care to list. Not that I cry during runs.
In my opinion, bad runs are down to five principle reasons, alone or in combination:
- Poor cardiovascular fitness
- Fibromuscular fatigue
- Poor preparation (sub-adequate clothing/weather)
- Failure to manage one’s own expectations.
- For no demonstrable cause.
As can be seen, most of these are straightforward and can be anticipated. If you have run every day for the last 2 weeks and you run a marathon straight after, you will have a bad run (Point 2). If you cannot run 5km but you undertake a 10km run, you will have a bad run (Point 1). If you expected to do speed work at 3:50min/km pace and your best 5km pace is 6min/km, you will have a bad run (Point 4). If it is snowing outside and you go out in a t-shirt, you will have a bad run (Point 3). In short, it is nearly always possible to anticipate why your run might not have gone as well as you might have intended.
Apart from when it’s Point 5. Point 5 is the unconsciouble nightmare that skirts around the fringes of most running careers. Sometimes, a run happens and it is bad for no other reason than that it was bad. Those runs are incredibly difficult to deal with and the runner is left panting on the side of the road wondering what the fuck is up. That was today. Today was point 5.
I’ve had a day to think about the run and I’ve decided to let it go. I was contemplating a genuine surgical dissection of the case but its best just to let some things be. I’m going to run 13 miles tomorrow and hopefully at a gentle and forgiving pace that will allow me to enjoy the run as oppose to rue it. The answer to any bad run is always the next run. It isn’t putting your shoes away, it is getting them ready for tomorrow.