October 29 2015
This running coach shares her top trail tips for runners.
Order up! A heaping slice of humble pie with a side of lost dignity. . .
When I pulled up to a favorite local trail on Saturday, I put in my order for a nice, easy run. What I ended up with was a stark contrast to my desire. An unexpected serving of humble pie was mine, whether I asked for it or not.
I started off strong – feeling confident about the path ahead, but quickly realized my late-morning start wasn’t the wisest of choices. Having been spoiled by a colder-than-usual winter, I found myself bucking the idea of running early to avoid potential heat and happily snuggled my pillow well into mid-morning. Enter mistake number one. As a native Floridian, I know better. Running in May is the beginning of sauna season. Gone are the lazy days of winter. They’ve been replaced with running at o’dark thirty to avoid the heat.
I knew I was in trouble when my GPS watch beeped to indicate the completion of a mile. Feeling like I was pushing the pace just-a-tad, my eyes almost fell out of my head when I saw the time display a full 30-seconds slower than my normal “easy” pace. Knowing that my goal included four more miles, I knew immediately that it wasn’t going to be pretty.
I soldiered on, telling myself the heat was just in my head – but my stomach and body didn’t quite agree. Perhaps the tiny banana I had two hours previously wasn’t enough, or maybe I should have laid off the diet soda the day before in exchange for water. Whatever the culprit, I hadn’t planned accordingly to prepare for the heat and my legs and ego were paying the price.
After the second mile I resolved myself to survival mode and adjusted my expectations. I still wanted to go the distance, but decided walk breaks were a must. So I ran and I walked, and then I ran and I walked – until my GPS displayed the magical number of five miles complete.
I didn’t look at my finish time as I headed over to sit in the shade, disgusted by my inability to hang in the heat. But as I sat there defeated and dripping of sweat, I made a decision to eat the humble pie I was served. I could easily let the less-than-stellar run define my attitude about my running, but not this time. I know better than to set out on a late-morning run in the Florida heat. I know better than to saturate my thirst with carbonated sodas instead of water. And I know the importance of proper pre-run fueling. But I needed a little reminder to not take these things for granted, because without them – good running doesn’t happen. A momentary lapse in judgement (or a bad run) doesn’t define me. It only makes me stronger in the long run.