Sometimes You Have To Push Yourself (Just A Little Bit)

Happy Monday!  A little recap from my weekend and the lesson I learned:

Isn’t it frustrating running a 15 miler that feels ten times harder than your 18 miler the week before?  That’s what happened to me this past weekend.  Granted, I spent the first part of the week dealing with a doozy of a stomach bug that completely knocked me out.  That certainly didn’t help matters.  But either way, this past weekend’s 15 miler was just plain difficult.

The frustrating part was that the week before I braced myself for a tough 18 miler.  I hadn’t done a run that far in awhile and 3 weeks into marathon training, I assumed I was going to struggle.  But I rocked it!  And I felt like a rockstar!  Every mile seemed to fly by and I felt strong.  Even when I ran home into the wind for the second half, I found that my conversation pace was faster and easier than I had expected.

So when I went into the fall back week, I left home thinking that it was awesome to think of it as an “easy” fifteen.  Before I hit mile 10, things started to suck.  My shoulder started to burn (go figure) and my glutes were screaming.  I felt depleted (might have had to do with said stomach bug).

In the last two miles I found myself digging deep.  The running coach in me was urging myself along.  That was when it hit me.  If this was race day, I would have to dig deep and keep going.  Chances are I will feel like this at some point during race day.


Not every run is easy and marathon training is meant to push you to the brink.  Most long runs have a point where you question yourself, your body, or your sanity.  Sometimes you question all of those at the same time!  Yet each run, pushes your body and makes you stronger.  And those rough training runs teach you a very important lesson.

If you didn’t have terrible runs at some point during training you wouldn’t get the chance to push yourself past those rough spots.  On race day when you hit a moment of struggle, you can remind yourself that you have been there before and you have gotten through it.  Those awful runs and horrible moments teach us that we are strong and in fact, they make us stronger.  Now you know that you can survive and on race day, survive you will!

On the flip side, if your training went off without a hitch and you got to race day and were met with some adversity, it would be easy to question your ability to continue.  You might not know how your body would handle this moment.  By dealing with this during training you are better prepared.

Keep in mind that at some point it is okay to stop or hang up the shoes during a run.  You should never push yourself past a major injury, or to the brink of dehydration.  You need to play it smart and know when it might be wise to take a break.  Walking is always an option.  Yet, there will be times when you must trust your body and let your mind take over.  Remind yourself that when your body says it must quit, your body (and you) are much, much stronger.


Always remember that every mile in running is different.  No two miles are ever the same.  Just when you think you will have to stop and hang up your shoes, another mile sneaks up that makes you feel like you could take on the world.  I have had runs that start out feeling so great I want to add on an extra five, only to quit a mile later.  And I have had runs that started out so awful and depressing, I thought I would never make it.  But sometimes, those runs and those races end up being the ones we remember the most and we the ones we love the most.

21 thoughts on “Sometimes You Have To Push Yourself (Just A Little Bit)

  1. Reblogged this on Em's Way To Go and commented:
    “Just when you think you will have to stop and hang up your shoes, another mile sneaks up that makes you feel like you could take on the world.”
    Injury or illness doesn’t have to be major to knock you sideways – Sarah’s recovered from a stomach bug!

  2. I think it is a great lesson … it is easy to remember that you should cut yourself slack to avoid injury, allow for recovery and when you’re sick. But as runners we feel guilt if we skip a run or cut it short when the only reason is that our body just isn’t feeling it. But the reality is – if you are 10-15 minutes into it and still sucking up a storm, what are you REALLY accomplishing by continuing to torment yourself? Is it building up your ability to push through the suck? Well, that is a goal – and perhaps a valid reason. But sometimes your body also needs a time-out. That is where things get tough.

    There are times to push, and times to not push. And there is not a clear line to distinguish. I have had plenty of mediocre and even some terrible runs, but mostly even if it is a slog after 10-15 minutes I wouldn’t stop for anything in the world.

    I also like the idea that dealing with adversity during training is important to handling it on race day.

    • It’s a hard thing to balance. We have to learn to push and also learn to be patient and give ourselves a break when we need it. Both are definitely important lessons in life and in running.

  3. I always sat those hard runs are what makes the effortless, easy days that much sweeter. Or the races that feel effortless – makes me appreciate those hard days. I’m half sorry you had one! Half sorry because I hate to hear of anyone feeling like crap on a run – that just plain sucks – but glad you got to practice embracing the suck!

  4. But why do sucky runs come out of nowhere? The days I’m rested, hydrated and ready to go, are often when my legs are like “What’s running? Huh? How?”

    Some runs feel so good, like you’re doing exactly what the body is made to do. Other days doing the exact same thing is a total struggle. I try to think of tough runs as mental training. They make me cranky, but you’re right – tough runs are certainly more memorable. And now you’ve earned another awesome run! Thems the rules.

  5. All of this is so very true. At my last half, the one I PR’d and felt freaking amazing, I pushed myself the last mile so that I *could feel the hurt*. I wanted to push myself to see and know that I could keep going even though it hurt. Thanks for another great post!

  6. These type of runs are character building, right? And you will definitely appreciate them if you hit the struggle bus at a race. I agree with you that they also make the great days feel extra special.

  7. Great post Sarah and excellent points that I think we can all relate. Just this past Saturday, I lined up in perfect running conditions for a flat and fast half marathon, in the midst of marathon training. Everything should have been primed for a close to PR race but within the first 3 miles, it just wasn’t going to happen. After breaking out from the crowd in the first mile, I had an awesome mile 2 split, well within PR range, mile 3 was ok – slower but within range. By mile 5 I was contemplating a walk break, but the past weekend I had just nailed a 16 miler at marathon pace. I couldn’t figure it out but just decided to run the last 4-5 miles at full marathon pace and not push. Just have those kind of days sometimes I guess..this sucked because it was technically my “tune up” race. There’s always another one though. Have a great week!

    • Sorry to hear about your Roth half. Running, by nature, is a beast that cannot be tamed. We can train the heck out of it, but it will always throw curveballs. The way I see it, if Meb can’t tame it, why would I think I can?!

  8. Such a great lesson! Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you should push yourself and when to listen to your body.

    • So true. But I think deep down we all know when we have a bit left and when it is time to take a break. Today’s speed work was a clear moment where I knew I needed an extra rest. I didn’t like it. But I knew it was okay.

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