Holding On To Uncomfortable: The Key To My Running

I recently realized why I am able to endure distance running.  It is often said that running requires a unique mindset.  My realization might just add proof to that theory.

The other day I was out for a run in the warm summer heat.  Lately I’ve had a few struggle runs and whenever it gets warmer, I tend to feel nervous about how things will go.  On this particular run, I made it to the halfway point and turned around feeling stronger than I had anticipated.  That is always a good feeling when you are uncertain of the outcome.

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I started thinking about upcoming races that I haven’t signed up for.  There are two marathons this fall that had been on my radar, but due to work schedules, they aren’t going to happen.  There are also a few shorter races that I have been considering but the thought of them made me a bit anxious.
I started questioning why shorter distances make me so nervous compared to the half and full marathon.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the 5k is a distance I avoid.  I despise that race.  To me, it is a sprint.  I have a competitive mind when it comes to races (my husband would tell you that is also the case with many things in life).  As much as I try, it is incredibly difficult for me to just “run” a race.  I’ve attempted this during a 5k and the moment I start getting passed by young kids, I can’t help myself.
To race a 5k is in my mind, a mad dash.  It is 3.1 miles of fast running and feeling absolutely awful at the finish.  A 10k has a slightly better pace for me.
The half and full marathons are mentally easier for me because you can slow that pace a bit and settle in.  The key, I realized is that I’ve learned to learn to hold onto uncomfortable at that distance.
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Running, in general, is an uncomfortable experience.  As you begin moving, your lungs work harder, you heart has to pump blood more efficiently, your muscles must do more.  Every cell in your body has to push more.  It is a taxing situation and it is uncomfortable.  It is hard!  
 
Learning to deal with the uncomfortable, to hold onto that feeling, and to move your mind away from that feeling is the key to enduring any distance.  You will likely always feel uncomfortable to some extent during running, but it will get easier.  That uncomfortable becomes more manageable.
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Our minds are a vital tool in the sport of running.  Finding ways to hold onto that uncomfortable is the key to enduring.
How do you hold onto uncomfortable?

We’re Having A Heat Wave- Quick Summer Long Run Tips

Chicago is boasting some seriously warm temperatures right now, as is the rest of the country.  Instead of a lengthy post today I wanted to just do a quick one with some reminders for hot weather running.  Right now many of you are in marathon training as well as for other distances.  Summer is race season!  That means most of us are doing long runs this weekend and it is a great time to do a quick discussion on hot, sweaty, long runs (very sexy, right?!).

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate:  Don’t just down water the morning of the run.  Make sure you are drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to your long runs.  Once you get dehydrated on a run, it is hard to reverse the situation.  On the flip side, always make sure you don’t over hydrate as this can lead to rare but very dangerous health conditions as well.

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When you can’t drink from the Fountain of Youth I recommend plain old tap water too!

LSD means long and slow:  Long runs are meant to be done at a slower pace than your other weekly runs.  It is perfectly acceptable to go 30 seconds to even a minute slower per mile on these runs.  The point of these runs is to be spending lots of time on your feet.  It isn’t a dress rehearsal for the marathon.  So don’t fret about pace.  Just get those long miles in.

When it gets hot and humid, you have to slow it down even more:  While heat takes it out of you, nothing is more detrimental to your runs than humidity.   If you start looking at your GPS and scanning your paces you are going to become very discouraged.  Know as soon as you head out on a hot and humid day that you are going to have to run at a much slower pace.  When the weather takes a turn like this, forget your pace and make it your goal to just finish the run.

Remember that over time your body will get used to this:  Just like cold weather running or training at altitude, as you continue to train in the heat and humidity your body will adjust and you won’t suffer like you do in those first few days.  Be patient with your body.

Go ahead and add some salt:  If it is going to be humid on the day of your long run, don’t be afraid to add a little sodium to your diet.  Ordinarily I don’t recommend a high sodium diet, but with as much sweat as your body will lose on a long run, that added salt will help your body to retain some water and help to make that long run more doable.  A bowl of chicken noodle soup the night before your run can work wonders.

Plan your recovery:  One thing I love do on a long, hot run is look forward to my recovery.  Before I head out I like to take some almond milk, chocolate protein powder, a banana, and some peanut butter and make a delicious smoothie.  I blend it up and leave it in the fridge.  When I come home I have a deliciously cold, protein packed drink waiting for me.  Add a tall glass of water with a Nuun tablet and you are on track for a great training session the next time you are ready to go.

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How do you cope with hot and humid running?  What is your favorite way to recover?