10 Things I Do to Push Through Hard Runs
Training for a marathon inventively means there will be numerous runs, long, short, easy and hard. I think that is actually one of the things I love about running – many times, running is unpredictable. During this training cycle alone, I’ve had many really good runs, but I’ve also had a lot of hard, ‘bad’ runs. Runs that left me questioning my abilities and if I can really run the marathon. But, I’ve also learned that it is in those long, hard, runs that I reach a new depth of strength, confidence, and endurance.
Over the years of running, I’ve learned a few tricks that help me push through a really hard run and keeps me going when all I want to do is quit. And before I go any further, I want to clarify: there is a time to quit during a run. I always stop running immediately if something is hurting and I either 1: Can’t stop thinking about it or 2: My gait is compromised because I can’t run correctly (i.e. I am limping, shuffling, etc.) Even though it is really, really hard for me to cut a run short, I always have to remember that a couple days or even a week off is wayyyy better than taking a month or more off! It’s all about perspective.
However, if I am not injured and I just feel like quitting because I want to go home, I dig deep and remind myself of a couple of things.
- I tell myself, “I AM comfortable.” – It is amazing how much positive affirmation helps me during a run. When my mind wants to constantly think about all sort of negative things (like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ ‘I should just stop right now,’ etc.) combating lies with truth like: ‘I am comfortable’ ‘I can do hard things,’ ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,’ ‘They will run and not be weary!’ help me push through those tough moments a TON!
- I focus on what feels good. – This is something that Janae mentioned she does and it has helped me so much. Instead of focusing on how much my legs or feet hurt, I turn it around and focus on what feels good. It is a little harder to focus on my painful legs when I am happy about my happy eyebrows 😉
- I think about my goals and how this run will only make me stronger. As long as I am not pushing through an injury, a little pain (or a lot of pain) is only a ‘deposit’ in my marathon race-day bank! Basically, what you put into you, you get out of it. If I slack on my training, most likely, my race day performance is going to suffer, big time. However, if I ‘just do it’ and push through those runs, hard or not, I will show up at my race, much more confident, more prepared, and more ready for the race than if I slacked.
- I think about hard times in my life and how I’ve overcome. During a hard run recently, Landon reminded me that if I had a baby without any pain medication – I could totally finish the 14 mile run. Just a little bit of encouragement like that goes a long way! I’ve also thought about how hard it was to walk through postpartum anxiety or overcoming an eating disorder and somehow, the that gives me confidence that if I could overcome those hardships through Christ’s strength, I could finish a hard run too.
- I picture the finish. – Many times, during a hard run or race, I picture how good it will feel to finish and cross either the finish line (if at a race) or go through my front door. Picturing the finish not only encourages me to run, it makes me run faster so I can get there more quickly!
- I dream about how I will reward myself. – This may sound super silly, but after a hard, long run I love to hydrate, drink my favorite smoothie and stretch for a long time. Later that night, I love to sit on the couch with my best friend, eat a bunch of popcorn, watch a movie and give myself a facial. These are some of my favorite post-run routines and I look forward to them after every long run. Not only does this help me push through, it gives me something to look forward to after getting home.
- I do math. – Another little trick I do while running, is breaking the run into parts. Instead of focusing on the 5 miles I have left to run, I break it into easy, two 2.5 miles runs. Or instead of going out for a 20 mile run, I am really just going out for 2, 10 mile runs. And it’s weird, because although I know I am tricking myself, I almost believe myself and it helps a lot!
- I try not to constantly look at my watch. – I am so guilty of continually staring at my watch during the entire run and while I love my Garmin, sometimes it feels like it slows me down. On our 20 mile run, I told Landon I really wanted to not pay attention to my watch, unless I felt like my pace was off. The entire run went SUPER well and I noticed, especially the first 6 miles FLEW by. I’m think I will start not staring at my watch more often!
- I turn up the beats! – Okay, so this one is a new to me tip, but I LOVE IT. During the last 1.7 miles of our 20 mile run, both Landon and I were feeling a little tired. Landon had the brilliant idea to grab his phone and throw on some intense music. That was JUST the pick-me up I needed to finish the last bit of mileage! Also, the song was pretty perfect. 😉
- I think about those who cannot run. – On a recent long run, we ran past a man who was an amputee, in a wheel chair. And as tired as I felt at that moment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the ability to walk, run, feel, push myself, and sweat. I know there are so many people who would give anything to be able to walk, move, and run. So, while I can, I am going to run and run my best.
So, next time you are in the middle of a hard run, make sure to check and see how your eyebrows feel, jam out to your favorite epic song, think about others, dream about your reward, do math, encourage yourself and simply, just run. Run happy, run because you can. Embrace the pain, embrace the hardness of the sport, for in those moments lie deep strength.