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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?