On the Run

The Runs I Nearly Talk Myself Out of Are Often the Best Ones

That post-run glow

This week, I’ve had my first cycle (and first chronic pain flare up) in three months. While this is all according to our new master plan for treating my chronic pain, it doesn’t make it any less, well… painful.

Because I haven’t dealt with my cycle or my pain in a couple of months, this is the first time in my new training plan that I’ve had to decide how to tackle an off week like my period pretty much always brings.

Historically, I’ve had a tendency to be very all-or-nothing with fitness. If I can’t follow my running plan perfectly the whole week is shot, and I’ll do nothing, instead. Not the best attitude, since life has a way of happening.

This time around, I’m trying to combat that. Instead of writing off the whole week because I felt too crummy to do my Kick It crosstraining on Tuesday, I took the rest day I needed and moved some things around. When I felt worse on Wednesday, I took another look and moved my run back again, with the hope of tackling my speed work Thursday morning.

Then Thursday morning came, and my cramps were still present, a hint of pain in my head. I considered my options. Skip the run altogether, shift to a conversational pace day, or… get out there and see what the heck happens.

I want to be very clear here. Taking a day off if you’re not feeling up to it is absolutely okay and generally a good idea. Sometimes, your body needs rest, and you should prioritize that. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like running or [insert other activity here] and that is also completely valid.

But sometimes, you dig deep and realize you don’t actually feel that badly, that you do actually want to do your workout. If you’re me, you may also remember that your neurologist suggested more physical activity for your chronic pain, not less.

Sometimes, you ask yourself if you want to run, and the answer underneath the cramps and the light rain in the forecast is “heck yes!”

So I laced up my shoes and told myself I’d just see what I was capable of today. Personal best effort, even if that meant giving up on the speed work after one interval if it didn’t feel right.

The moment I stepped out the door, that light rain my weather app promised began to fall. Thankfully, it’s a balmy 70 degrees in Pittsburgh today, and I love a good run in the rain when it’s warm outside.

One of the things that is often true for me as a runner is that the run’s I nearly talk myself out of are always the best. Maybe it’s that extra dose of pride that I didn’t quit on myself, or maybe something else is going on, but within the first moments of my warm up, I knew it would be a good run.

I didn’t completely nail my target paces for the speedwork, but then, I rarely do–hills get me every time. What’s important is that I felt strong and clicked in, not to mention a little big smug for being out there in the rain with only a handful of other runners (and that one very determined couple who walk every single day, rain or shine).

Some days, you need to rest. Other days, if you really ask yourself why you’re thinking of skipping that run, you realize it’s a good day not to give up on yourself. Today was one of those days for me and I’m glad I took that first step out the door. I almost always am.