This morning I set out to run eighteen miles. I had the route planned days ahead of time and I had mentally prepared for the distance the night before. Just as the sun was beginning to rise, I fueled up with a slice of toast and headed out the door.
And it was great...for the first five minutes, anyway.
Suddenly, I felt like I was trying to run upstream in a river of jello, with bricks instead of feet. My shoulders tightened up to the point they were practically touching my ears. I slogged on, periodically shaking out my arms, and repeating to myself a mantra I once read on an ultrarunning website: "It never always gets worse."
But it did. My body felt heavier and slower with each stride. I know there are times to keep going, to push through it, but after a few more miles I decided this was not one of those times. I turned around at the four-and-a-half mile mark and finished out nine miles with several two-minute walks thrown in.
I couldn't help but compare it to last week's fifteen, when I hadn't felt this bad even at the end. While my brain knows that there will be good runs and bad runs, sometimes for inexplicable reasons, my heart has yet to accept that as a fact. But I did everything right! I whined. I ate a good supper, I got enough sleep, I've even been stretching!
Reminding myself that there is a reason for everything, that God always has a plan even when I can't see it, is a tactic I've tried lately to quiet the inner-whiner. It works better at some times than others. This time, it calmed me and helped me make peace with cutting the run short, but I couldn't stop analyzing why this had happened, and wondering what it means for my training.
Am I dehydrated? Did I not get enough rest? Did I eat too soon before running? Am I starting to get sick? Am I going to be ready for the race in five weeks? I don't know what the answers are. I don't know why these runs happen. But I know that I can learn something from every run, and hopefully today I learned something that will help me somewhere down the road. Today, I will refuel, rest, and try again on Friday.