I headed over to my favorite local trails yesterday for a 25 mile training run, but came home with only 20 miles on the Garmin. It’s very rare (like maybe once a year) that I don’t end up getting in my planned mileage. While I’m a little disappointed in my performance, I’m not overly torn up about it. Probably my biggest issue with the run is that I don’t know what to call it.

DNF. It’s true I did not finish my planned mileage, however I typically only associate DNFs with races.

I quit. This is a little closer to the truth, however feels too negative. The primary purpose of the workout was to get in a long run as prep for Phunt 50k in 2 weeks. I think anyone with half a brain (even those of us who run ultras) would agree that 20 miles is a long run. So mission at least partially accomplished.

I bailed. Yeah, this feels right. I was doing a similar route to last weekend’s 20 mile run, however the effort felt higher and the pace was a little slower. This can mostly be attributed to the condition of the trails, which were quite a bit muckier than last weekend. I was slogging and sliding around much more, which resulted in very tight hamstrings. My energy levels were also a tad on the low side. Turns out fish and chips are not the best meal to have the night before a long run. Tasted good though.

The decision to bail happened pretty quick. I was content to just keep grinding out the miles until mile 18. I took a step and ended up ankle deep in mud. As I wrenched my foot out, hoping my shoe stayed on, my calf muscle screamed at me. It worked itself out after a couple strides, however was enough to convince me I was rapidly approaching heightened injury risk territory. This was just an early season training run and the benefits of continuing on were vastly outweighed by the downsides.

This was confirmed about 100 yards down the trail when I slipped on a wooden bridge and came down hard on my elbow and face (yes, I literally took it on the chin). My right hand/arm was numb and tingling for the next 15-20 minutes. Eventually it worked itself out, but it definitely removed any doubt about whether I had made the right decision.

The only “valid” reason for me to gut out the last 5 miles would be mental toughness. Many people would argue this is how you build grit. There is some merit to this, however I’ve never personally been able to trace gutting out tough training runs to performance during races. Partly because I never think about them while I’ve got a bib pinned on, but mostly because they’re different kinds of mental challenges. The mental challenges faced during training runs are short shallow things compared to 35 miles or 20 hours into a run. It’s really an apples and oranges comparison in my experience.

So I bailed on the run. Hopefully, it leads to better days ahead and is not a harbinger of things to come.

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