The Good, the Bad and the Downright Funny

It never ceases to amaze (not to mention entertain) me that some runs are rotten while others turn out to be brilliant for no apparent reason. This week I’ve had my fair share of both types of runs and you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world.

If nothing else, this week has taught me that running, just like life, is full of ups and downs. If it’s good, it’s wonderful and if it’s bad, it’s experience!

On Tuesday, I took my scheduled 90 minutes easy run to the fells. I always find it hard to run for over an hour in the evening after work, as I usually spend the majority of this time fantasising about dinner. I had hoped that beautiful scenery would offer some distraction, and was not disappointed:

NormansLaw

Wednesday saw the worst run of the year for me so far. I know we’re only just at the start of February and I fully expect worse to come; however, this doesn’t change the fact that my so called speed intervals were a calamity. It was a proper British wintery day; grey, rainy, cold, miserable and very, very windy. My legs were feeling the fell run of the previous day and were refusing to shift through the gears. To make matters worse, I had forgotten my gloves, which not only left me feeling even more cold and miserable, but also rendered my fingers useless to operate my sportswatch. Also, in case anyone is wondering, I can confirm that dropping both keys and phone into a puddle isn’t at all conducive to running an interval session.

I admit that at first I felt quite deflated after finishing the session, but that feeling didn’t last. Once I was sat down at home (in warm, dry clothes and sipping on a steaming cup of peppermint tea) I had a chance to review the random jumble of gibberish that my watch had recorded on the run; a testimony to my frantic attempts to operate the stopwatch with frozen fingers in the middle of an icy storm. I laughed at the special kind of idiot (aka me) it took to go out and try to run an interval session in those conditions in the first place… but intervals I did run, six times 1.5km (more or less). Who cares how fast or slow they were? I was running straight into the middle of a northern winter storm; and if that isn’t a good workout, I don’t know what is!

Friday morning saw me find my early morning running mojo on a pre-work run along the coastal paths. I didn’t expect to be capable of much power at such an unearthly hour, but once I was warmed up I was positively bouncing. Perhaps the rest day had worked it’s magic, or perhaps the stars were aligned for me. I don’t mind either way; the run was beautiful.

On Saturday morning I managed yet another early start and thanks to utilising the time otherwise reserved for breakfast, I was able to take part in my local parkrun. In a spontaneous act of lunacy, I inhaled a chocolate bar while standing on the start line, hoping that it would give me energy. Instead, it gave me stitches about half way around the five kilometre course. This seriously dampened my engine and I resigned myself to simply making it to the finish line. You can imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line and realised that I had just taken a few seconds off my pervious parkrun record. I only hope that this won’t encourage me to repeat my narcoleptic nutrition strategy at future races.

Sunday is the day of the long run, and although today’s run wasn’t all that long by my standards, it got progressively faster in pace. Just for added entertainment value, every single one of the 22km of the run was complicated by a rather mischievous west wind. Every outdoor runner in Scotland is familiar with the sensation of running as hard as they can, but not moving forward at all, thanks to the wind. This made for a frustrating and very slow first five kilometres of my run. Then I changed direction, at which point the wind also changed its strategy of interference, in that it was now actively trying to kill me. Rather than just stopping me from going forward, it was now picking me up mid-stride and randomly dropping me at a point that was previously somewhere to my right. Twice I took off in a straight stride along the sidewalk and landed in the middle of the road (and thereby in traffic) instead. Clearly, this was yet another problem that could only be solved by eating more chocolate (it soothes my nerves, gives me energy to lean into the wind and it makes me fat, thereby complicating the wind’s endeavours to transport me elsewhere, I reasoned). Despite the turbulence, I ran the last five kilometres of the run at a solid half-marathon pace, hence finishing my running week with a metaphorical rude gesture at the west wind.

If there’s a moral to be found in all of this, then let it be that some creativity and a sense of humour help in almost all running situations. Failing that, I personally recommend chocolate.

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14 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Downright Funny

  1. TartanJogger says:

    Only not before a race 😉

    Well done on getting out there- especially on Wednesday- tough!

    • Thank you – I’m really happy with the running week and in a way it’s a pretty typical week for me – just the Sunday run is normally a good bit longer =) And tough runs happen, it’s all part of it.

  2. Angie says:

    It seems like the “worst” runs are often the most fun to talk about later. I like how chocolate played into your week too. I don’t know what I’d do without chocolate.

    • Chocolate… is there anything it can’t solve? 😉 And I completely agree, the bad runs are often the most entertaining ones to revisit. Sometimes they aren’t fun at the time, but with hindsight, they can be rather hilarious.

  3. Lily says:

    This is comforting, I had my worst run of the year yesterday. It is so strange that some runs you can feel unstoppable, and others you feel like you couldn’t possibly run another step only a mile in. Sometimes I even feel like I forget how to run, and others I feel like I probably look like a professional (in my mind). Good job getting out there!

    • Hey Lily and thanks for stopping by – I think we all get that; in that some runs are awesome and some are terrible and every shade of grey in between. That’s what I was getting at with this post. What I find even more intriguing is the unpredictability of it. Of course, some things like nutrition and sleep have a clear, direct influence on our running ability. But often, the nature of the run is a mystery until you’re out there doing it… However, I often find that a really bad run is then followed by a really good one for a strange reason. Perhaps it has something to do with balance in the universe, but I’m certainly not complaining!

  4. Fullmoonrunner: Un point
    Mother Nature: Nil points! 😉

    • *flex* 😉 I bet you’ve been getting your fair share of stormy runs as well, haven’t you? I’m running an ultra in June btw, so if you ever want to join forces on a crazy trail run in the Ochils or Lomonds or Angus Glens or Cairngorms or whatnot, please give me a shout – it would be awesome to have some company on those looooooong runs!

  5. Trails and Ultras says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks eating a chocolate bar 10 seconds before a race start is a good idea. It seems my mind has no ability to remember that indigestion and snicker burps don’t help when I’m trying to run. Although this is just for the short fast races…snickers are a god send on the longer endurance runs. Low intensity + snickers = perfect endurance food.

    • I’m addicted to Mozart Kugeln – they are an Austrian type of chocolate, and contain nougart, marzipan and pistacios, as well as milk and dark chocolate. I love love love them on my endurance runs and could eat them all day! They are hard to get in this country, but soooo worth it! They are a nice size, too – each chocolate gives you about two bites and 100 calories!

  6. I love this! And its so true some of my worst runs have turned out to be the most fun (after the fact) and they also make the good ones oh so much better! 🙂

    • I also think that part of the reason we have bad runs is so that we recognise and appreciate the great ones for what they are. Truly bad runs are thankfully very rare for me – I think unpleasant is a better word, but still great for learning more about myself in the process!

  7. I love that you started this post by acknowledging that some runs just suck!! I could not agree more. I am just getting back into running (I am an avid yogi at heart but I try to run several times a week, and right now I am training for a half marathon) and I got back on the treadmill earlier this week after a long running hiatus. The run was just crappy!! It was so disappointing, but then I got back on the next day and it was amazing, I had so much endurance and I was rockin’ the heck out to my pump-up music. Just goes to show you can’t give up on something just because you get discouraged. Thanks for this! Xo

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I am glad you find it helpful. I think we have a tendency to talk about the rave runs (and why not?), but politely forget about the others… which might give the impression that other people only have great runs. I absolutely adore running (as well as yoga, btw!), and in reality, most runs are good, some are totally awesome and a handful are just pants. Something goes wrong and sometimes we don’t even know that it was. So what? There will be better runs! Good on you for getting back into running, I find that yoga and running compliment each other so wonderfully. I’m also really glad to hear that your rotten run was followed by a great one. It’s strange, I find that’s often the case… Whatever you do, keep moving forward! 😉

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