I've been running for probably 5 years consistently. I've been fortune to have completed all of the major running mile markers of 5K, 10K, 10-miler, 13.1 mile Half Marathon, and 26.2 mile Full Marathon within a 5 year period. I'm in no means a pro, but I've had quite a bit of success and experience. Yet even when you think that you know and have seen it all, some dumb mistakes occur that sets you back a little bit and makes you say "What Am I Really Doing Here?"
After a long running layoff of some years, I decided to road race again. My first race this year was a 5K, which is a different kind of run to mentally prepare for altogether. I finished this race today not exhausted, but out of energy from the start to where I just could not find that extra gear, that "runner's kick." Mistake # 1: I've been logging 30-40 miles a week this summer yet mostly indoors. Gotta get outdoors guys! Best way to simulate raceday conditions. Mistake # 2: I ran 5.5 miles, mostly outside, the night BEFORE the race, finishing at 9:40 PM. Keep in mind that I had an 8AM race in the morning. Dumb, dumb move. My legs and stride did not recover, and I felt completely flat. The training guides, etc of Galloway, Shorter, Kastor and other road masters say to not run the day before a race, and I just didn't listen. Mistake # 3: The 5K regpresented the final piece in completing my running "quinfecta", and here I thought that it was going to be an easy jog for 1 mile, grinding run on the second, and a full sprint in the final. Boy, was I wrong. There is much more strategy, in my opinion on running a 5K race. One particular key is knowing when to hit your running stride and rhythm, and just take off from there and enjoy. That just didn't happen, and I obviously didn't take this run seriously. Mistake #4: Not enought hydration the night before, not enough sleep. What can I say? I went to bed at midnight and probably had about 8 ounces of water when I should of had more. This goes without saying.
Ultimately, running a race is just more than moving your body step by step. It takes much more mental planning BEFORE you even run any race, in any conditions. I just didn't take this race as seriously as I should have, nor did I prepare very well. You live and learn from mistakes, and make those adjustments. Believe me that these adjustments will be implemented quickly for the next race!
I've always thought that running indoors vs. outdoors was a matter of preferance. It still is. Yet I believe that if you are training in the summertime for a running event, you absolutely, positively HAVE TO train outdoors. At least 85-90% of the time. And while there are going to be those days when the conditions are going to be unfavorable (heavy rain, etc), indoor running is a must but serious, you have to experience all of the running conditions outdoors. 1. Indoor running cannot simulate the outdoor temperature that your body cannot adjust to. 2. Indoor running, to a degree, cannot compensate for the many dips and turns and other road conditions that you have to adjust your stride for. 3. Indoor running, in my opinion, is just not that realistic in all other areas to race day conditions. 4. Indoor running tempo and breathing are far different when running outdoors.
I just finished a 5K this morning and wow, what a difference. While this is my opinion, I just discovered, for the first time on the difference between running on a treadmill for a few weeks and running outdoors. That humidity just killed my legs and made my legs feel like jelly. I finished ok, but I could have done soooooo much better had I spent more time outdoors on the trails, pavements and running tracks. If its raining, I'll hit that treadmill hard but after today, NO MAS!!
Has anyone been successful solely training indoors during summer?
Woke up this morning feeling absolutely exhausted. 4 consecutive days of intense training for my Fall races, and here I am on the morning of Day 5, struggling to get out of bed. Granted, I went to bed late at midnight after watching a couple episodes of Storage Wars (very compelling show) yet I did my post-training meals correctly with plenty of protein, water and light on carbs. And yes, I stretched quite considerably.
But wow, just when you think that the legs would be like jello, its really my level of alertness that is considerably lower this morning. Why is this? Is it due to the constant weather changes (1 reason) or physiology changes within the body? Or lack of additional carbs? Although I have my rest period on Day 5, I'm slightly concerned as to what is more of a priority: getting over fatigue or soreness first, or simultaneously? Quite odd to me in a way yet further evidence of the dynamics involved with training plus the aging process, I suppose.
Sometimes, I ask myself: why do I do this thing called running? Why do I punish, push, grind my body into performing at a level that it previously was not at the week, month, year (s) before? Is it for the exercise, or for the feeling? For glory?
Perhaps its all of those reasons, and some more, yet for myself, the physical aspects of running is about as addictive as a Starbucks Frappachino: it just happens, and then it sticks with you. The very moment I got that hook, that running "addiction", was perhaps during a 7AM 6-mile mile at a 9 minute pace while in the Army. It was in that moment, where about 60 of us ran in unison at a pace faster than the prescribed 9 minutes, to the point where some started falling out of the run, exhausted and exasperated. I was still in the middle of the action, smiling and laughing, singing and chanting, asking for our commander to push us harder, faster, and farther. And he did. And we continued to run, while I continued to smile and enjoy the feeling not of blood and oxygen pulsating through my body, but of accomplishment: I truly belonged among those doing this, this running thing.
I have to admit that I absolutely hate training in the summertime, especially when you know that your major running events are in the fall. Your body has adjusted to summer's brutal heat and humidity (particularly if you live in the Deep South), the endless BBQ's and get togethers thrown by your family and friends, as well as a more relaxed mood at work due to rotating summer vacations. And with all of that, there is that 800-lb gorilla of training that you have to deal with. Ugh! To paraphrase Allen Iverson's infamous "Practice" rant, you have to train, amidst all of summertime's offerings? Its just training, man, just training.
What are some good ways to break up the slump of non-motivation? Sure, you can try something different instead of running your usual 5 :30 PM 10k after work to 4:30 AM, or even undertake more cross-training, but what else? What else motivates you to achieve one more step closer to your goal? What is it that gets you excited to follow through on the grind of training? What makes you, in the words of Larry The Cable Guy, "Get Er Done?"