There are probably a thousand and one ways to categorize your runs.
- You can do it by course description: the trail run, the road run, or the mountain run.
- You can categorize it by time: the weekday run, the evening run, or the crack of dawn run.
- Or by effort level: the easy run, the tempo run, or the fartlek run. You can also label is by feelings: the happy run, the tired run, or the woo-hoo double exclamation points run.
My run this weekend was entirely in the I Don’t Wanna category. After my slog of a run last weekend, I was really not looking forward to tackling the exact same course again. Especially since I was planning on tacking on another 5 miles and 1500 feet of elevation gain to a workout that had already kicked my backside something fierce. I was dreading it all week long.
Saturday morning I really, really, really wanted to stomp my foot and shake my head like a little child would when presented with brussel sprouts. I knew the run wasn’t going to be fun. Even though it wasn’t something I wanted to do, I knew it was something I needed to do. So much of ultrarunning is gagging that little kid in the back of your head and ignoring him.
And I have to say the run didn’t completely suck. Just mostly. The temperature was in the mid-70s as I headed away from my truck at 6am and the humidity was high enough that I was sweating profusely before I even got into the second mile. My pace started out slower than the past 2 weeks. Part of it was that I was taking it a bit easier due to the planned extra 5 mileage, however the heat and humidity also seemed to be impacting my performance. After 10 miles, my pace was about 20 seconds per mile slower than the previous run. Not too bad, but I was starting to fear what the last 5 miles were going to be like considering how quickly I faded after 16 miles last weekend.
It was right around mile 12 that the little kid’s voice started up in the back of my head. The miles were hard, the humidity was high, my pace was slow, and he just kept screaming over and over again that he wanted his ice cream. After about a mile of this, the voice deepened to that of a young adult who started rationally telling me that I was progressing from hard to too hard. My perceived effort kept creeping higher and higher and it was starting to look like I was going to blow through all the fluids I brought along.
The now very reasonable voice suggested cutting out the extra 5 miles/1500 vertical feet and just do the 20 miles/6000 vert that I’d done the past 2 weekends. This would still be a good workout, but wouldn’t be what I had scheduled. And I abhor having to cut runs short because I couldn’t hack it. Even though it was the smart thing to do, I felt like a failure having to do it.
With the decision made though, the last 6-7 miles of my run were among the more enjoyable of the day. It was like a weight had been lifted from my running soul. I was still slowing down a bit (15 minutes +/-), however I wasn’t blowing up. I felt relatively strong and was maintaining halfway decent form. I’m glad I got out and put (most of) the miles in even though it was definitely an I Don’t Wanna Run.
So the moral of the story is ultrarunners shouldn’t listen to the childish voices in the back of their heads that tell you it’s OK to stop and go have fun. Only the mature ones talking sense to you. And if you don’t like to run long distances but are still hearing voices, you should probably schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. Hearing voices isn’t normal, dude.