One thing I’ve learned since running is that no two runs are alike. There are a TON of things that can play into how your run feels that day, how fast you go and how far you go.
One of my biggest problems is when I run the same ‘route’ and beat myself up because my time is worse than the time before. I need to STOP doing that.
Here are a few things that play into how your run will go. Use these to analyze your run before, during, and after so you can notice trends. It’s always good to keep a running journal whether online or on paper and write how you felt that day so you can look back and understand your running better.
- How you feel physically: How did you sleep last night? Do you have a million things on your mind? Are you in a bad mood? Is it a bad time of month (you know what I mean hahaa)? Are you hungry? Are you suffering from allergies, getting over being sick, feel like you are catching something? Are you nursing any injuries? All these things will DEFINITELY play into how your run goes.
- Hydration: HUGE. Can’t stress it enough. Now that it’s getting HOT HOT in Georgia it is SO important to stay hydrated, even on short runs. If you plan to run in the morning, make sure you drink plenty of water the day before. If you plan to run in the evening – drink water all day long. This will help you maintain hydration on your run, and BELIEVE ME – if you aren’t hydrated you will have a poopy run – and could even suffer heat stroke!!! I don’t recommend that. Yesterday Heather and I went on a 4mile run – I had my FuelBelt – Heather didnt. It was 83 degrees when we finished and no shade throughout the run, so it was HOT. Fortunately the FuelBelt we have holds 2 water bottles because I ended up sharing one with her – wasn’t really in the mood to scrape her off the sidewalk hahhaa. Bottom line – STAY HYDRATED.
- Elevation: Learned this one while at the beach!! I think the highest ‘hill’ was 16feet. I’m used to 100+ foot hills (over and over) so the super flat terrain of Florida was pretty nice. Of course there are trade offs…. it was a lot hotter and I battled a few super strong winds that pushed back on me, but I’ll admit – I did not miss the hills of georgia. I shaved off a good 30sec per mile while down there…. Awesome! RunKeeper is a ‘decent’ tool for looking at elevation – although I’ve noticed that people can upload the same route from the same course and the elevation looks completely different, so make sure you read the actual numbers of elevation instead of just looking at the histogram.
This is my elevation from an 8.10 mile run in Florida – looks hilly right??? Nope – the ‘hills’ are no more than 16feet – so be careful when you look at elevation to really READ what the elevation is!
- Temperature: This kinda goes back into staying hydrated too. If it’s even ‘warm’ outside – drink plenty of water and bring water with you. I’ve decided to do a whole post on heat/temperature – so check back tomorrow for that. But the bottom line is – SLOWLY acclimate to running in the heat… We do a race July 4th every year and it is historically HOT for the race, so a few weeks before we run in warmer temperatures to get used to it. Don’t go out in the hottest part of the day for a run just because you need to get a run in that day. I know it’s tough with kids – but you don’t want them to get hot, and it’s better to reschedule your run than to pass out from heat exhaustion. A lot of times you may feel worse after the run and it could discourage you!!
- Buddies: LOVE buddy runs :) I can’t tell you how much nicer it is to run with a friend. Yes, sometimes its great to go your own pace – or run solo to let your mind wonder, but running with a friend can really help (even if they are in front of you or behind you – it’s just nice to have a familiar face out there). Heather and I are pretty good at the “Talk&Run” – venting, chatting, whatever during a run – but just know that this IS a factor that plays into how you feel during a run. It definitely takes more lung work to chat while running – so don’t expect to maintain race pace while running your mouth (running pun hehe).
- Random things: I have had to stop for traffic/cars, stopped to help find a lost dog, stopped to help guide a dog back home, stopped to tie my shoe, stopped for stretching breaks, stopped to shut my beeping watch up, stopped to give my daughter more snacks, stopped to try and figure out my way…. see the trend?? I’ve had to stop a LOT of times for completely random things. While usually it’s only for 30seconds-a minute or so – its enough to break up your stride and kinda mess you up. Don’t let it get to you – just carry on!
The bottom line of all of this is not to beat yourself up over a ‘bad run’. Stop and analyze what made it not feel so great. Even if you have a GREAT run – write down what made it great! I always jot little notes like “super hot”, “very humid”, “lots of hills”, “flat in florida”, “perfect weather”, “felt great”….. etc. Then when I go back and look at my times I can see what made it good or bad and try to duplicate (or avoid) it.