A Series of Unfortunate Runs

My marathon training over the past week and a half has been strangely reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Only substitute the word “Events” for “runs,” and that would be my life in a nutshell.

I wish I could report to you all that my 15 miler today went splendidly and that my nap yesterday gave my body the extra oomph and energy to cruise through the run with ease and strength.

But no.

Sadly, this run was a tough one. Unfortunate, if you will.

It wasn’t tough for me because my muscles were sore or because I didn’t have the cardiovascular stamina for it. Nope. The primary reason for my misery during this run was dehydration, and boy, did it pull a number on my system.

To start things off, I didn’t actually start running till 8:00, which was a definite mistake on a day when the forecasted temperature was in the 90s. As I ran along my minimally shaded path, I began going through my water much faster than anticipated. By mile 2.5, I had gone through one of my water bottles, and by mile 6, I was almost done with the other.  At this point, I had 9 more miles left in the run, so I decided to save my last little sip of water for the Gu I was planning on taking around mile 9.

Did I even think to turn around at any point? No. Because I’m an idiot. I just thought I could “tough” it out until I made it back to the car where I had a water bottle stashed.

Big mistake.

As you can imagine, the lack of water began to get to me, and my pace continued to get slower and slower. Around mile 7.5 (my turn-around point), I realized that I couldn’t continue running, so I reverted to the Galloway method and tried to run 4 minutes and then walk 1 minutes. This ratio eventually reversed such that I was running 1 minute and then walking 4 minutes. I call it the Dehydrated Lindsay method. Don’t follow it anytime soon, my friends.

As the sun continued to beat down on me, I began to grow thirstier and thirstier, and I literally could not stop thinking about water. My mouth grew very dry, and it was at this point that I started to get upset. I was so frustrated with how this run was going. I felt terrible; I was disappointed with my slow pace; and I was so mad at myself for not listening to my body and turning around earlier to get more water.

I began to break down and cry, and for a few minutes, I wallowed in supreme self-pity. And with that pent-up emotion finally released, I forgave myself and focused on what I had to do. I had to get back to the car. I had to get water.

I tried running a few more times just because I thought it would help to get back to the car faster, but it just made me feel worse. I grew even more parched and weak whenever I broke into a jog. I quickly realized that it was becoming dangerous for me to continue doing anything more strenuous than a walk, so I just walked the rest of the way back to my car.

During the last half-mile of the “run,” I felt very faint, dizzy, and vaguely nauseous, so I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and getting back to the water in my car.

When I finally made it back to my car, I flopped into the passenger seat and chugged my water bottle. When I set it down, I realized that I was shaking. Literally shaking. I have no idea why, but it wasn’t pretty and it didn’t feel very good. I just sat in the passenger’s seat for the next 15 minutes, sipping at my water, blasting the air conditioning, and trying to calm down and feel “normal” again. As I’m sure you can tell, the run really took an emotional (and physical) toll on me.

Luckily, I feel like I learned a few things as a result of the run:

  1. Water is of the utmost importance. I am going to plan out my future long runs, so that I can loop back to the car several times and refill my water bottles. I will never again do such a lengthy out and back run without having some way of replenishing the water supply.
  2. I need to drink more water in the days before my long run. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t fully hydrated to begin the run, so I’m going to make it a priority to take a Nalgene bottle full of water with me wherever I roam. I’m still adjusting to Colorado’s arid climate, so proper hydration takes on even more importance when exercising in such a dry climate.
  3. I need to start my long runs earlier. By the end of my run, it was 90 degrees out. In order to avoid running in that kind of heat, I am going to work on getting up a couple hours earlier, so I can start and finish my runs in cooler air.
  4. It’s okay to walk if I need to. For some reason, I have always felt like walking on a run is a form of defeat. As though I am a failure for having resorted to walking….but I honestly think that walking saved my bacon today; and if my body demands that I walk on a future long run, I will listen to that urge and feel no shame.

Just for the record, I am feeling much better now. No need to send out an ambulance or anything. After drinking a ton of water throughout the day and eating some food, I’m a whole new woman! I’m even looking forward to my (well-hydrated) run tomorrow. Even though I had a terrible run today, I know that this run wasn’t an indicator of my failure as an athlete.

Quite the contrary.

In fact, I know that the lessons I learned from it will make me more prepared for my future long runs and ultimately the marathon itself. These lessons will make me an even better athlete than I was before.

Question: What kinds of lessons have you learned from your less-than-ideal workouts?


19 responses to “A Series of Unfortunate Runs

  1. Ugh that run sounds terrible! I’m sorry! Last year when I was training for Marine Corps, my dad and I had to do a 14 miler in South Carolina and it was absolutely terrible. Like you we started too late, it was SO humid, and there was minimal shade. At about 10 miles I had one of my energy thingies and got an instant stomach ache. So the only running I did from then on was to a bathroom :/

  2. Oh girl, I feel you. I have been lucky in that my long runs over the last few months (one a weekend) have been pretty great but then this Sunday happened. I had done 3+ hours the last two weeks and then decided to just do 2. just two, no problem. left later than normal because its winter here in Africa and figured that was okay… but same thing happened to me. Dehydrated, in middle of nowhere bush Africa. and my hip flexors were killing me. and i was sweating so much it kept going into my eyes and running behind my contacts and several times i had to stop because i couldnt see, they were stinging so bad. OUCH. Oh and then there was the other time a few weeks ago that I almost pooped my pants. Both definitely not runs to remember. and then to add insult to injury, here four days later my hips are STILL killing me! sigh…

    • Lol…I can’t count the number of times I’ve almost pooped on my long runs. Luckily, a conveniently-located bush or tree or ditch has always been present during those times. Thank goodness! Isn’t it crazy how running just gets all systems flowing?

  3. Sounds like total hell!

    I have learned so many things through running! It is all about experience. For example, do not eat a black bean burrito and run an hour or two later 😉

  4. Sounds like it was a painful experience, but I love your positive outlook! It’s all in your perspective. The run wasn’t a failure because you learned from it. I recently ran 16 and used pretzels as fuel on the run. The saltiness helped with hydration.

    I had to stop running a few weeks ago because I felt dehydrated and nauseous. It ended up being a good idea because my next run was much better.

  5. sorry to hear about the rough run – we definitely learned the importance of hydration during training!

  6. Oh, no. Dehydration is such a horrible feeling. When I was in high school and ran on the track team, I pushed myself way too hard, and was trying to keep up with people who ran and played sports all year. Meanwhile I just wanted to get fit and run with my runner friends. One run we did left me really nauseous, and I should have stopped or walked much sooner. Thinking back on it, I must have been quite dehydrated, but had no idea. We keep learning more about our bodies every day.

  7. no shame in walking at all! my lesson: don’t eat a tall stack of blueberry pancakes, 6 links of sausage, and a side of home fries before a 7-miler. you will want to die!

  8. Oh gosh, that sounds awful but I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’ve been there before (running out of water) but I was always fortunate enough to be by a gas station where I could go in and get water. You know, the benefits from marathon-training come from accomplishing a distance rather than the fact you ran the whole time/how fast you are. So really, its no worries and you should be proud of yourself! 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂 I’ll definitely be telling myself this during my next long run (i.e. it’s not how fast I go, it’s about covering the distance).

  9. Ugh, story of my marathon training life here in Arizona! I haven’t had a run that has started in less than 86 degree heat and most of the time it’s around 95 or so when I finish, if not hotter, and that’s when I start running at 5am! I HAVE to run with a Camelbak and on long runs I’ll fill it with half water, half Gatorade, and I make sure I have money with me so if I need to stop and refill at a gas station I can. I just keep thinking about how great it will feel when I’m running the actual marathon in Minnesota in October! Nice cool air will be a welcome change!!!

    • Can I say that you’re my new running hero? I would not be able to train for a marathon in Arizona in the summer. My goodness, girl! I can’t imagine running when it’s starts out at 86!!!! I’m sure that after a summer of running in what must feel like an oven, that Minnesota air is going to feel amazing!

  10. Uh-oh, that sounds incredibly scary. Glad you’re okay! Thank God for that stashed bottle in the car! Hydration is definitely something I have to watch here in Florida. I don’t drink a lot to begin with but I’m always trying to work on that.

  11. Oh gosh. Unfortunately, I have been learning the same thing during my runs… I get so dehydrated too! I take two, sometimes, three 8 oz bottles with me and that is just not enough! The next run will be better for you! 🙂

    Which marathon are you running?

    • I’m doing the Denver Rock n’ Roll Marathon in mid-October….I’m so glad I’m able to train at altitude now. I can’t imagine coming here from sea level and running 26.2 miles….for the people who are doing that, I salute them!

  12. oh I could have written this as I know the feeling oh so well! I have completely learned about the importance of hydration!

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