Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Running Through the Funk

Have you ever set out for a long run and about 2 or 3 miles in you think "there is NO WAY I'm going to get through this"? or how about just waking up to the alarm at 7AM to start your run and thinking "I'm too tired to run, I think I'm going to sleep for another hour instead"?
That is the way that most of my long runs for my training have been so far. Either its the altitude change or just something purely mental. Today I set out for my long determined to change the way that I have felt about them so far.
I researched some tips online and figured out that I may be starting out too fast and burning myself out before I could finish the run. I was being really hard on myself and pushing myself too much, because my comfortable pace is a bit slower here than it was at sea level. Because of this I was pushing myself too hard and beating myself up for not being able to run at the same speed. But today was different.
Like I said, I was determined to have a good run today. Afterall, I run because I love it and it makes me feel good. I needed to get back to the roots of why I started running in the first place.
I started out this morning at 8AM ready for a 10 mile run. I kept track of my pace and decided to keep it at a moderate pace for the first half of the run so that I didn't burn myself out too quickly. And it worked! I kept at a slow and steady pace of about 9 minute miles for the first 5 mile stretch of the run. By the time it was time to turn around and come back for the last stretch, I felt great!! I decided for the last few miles I would just let myself go at whatever pace I felt comfortable with, and at one point I looked down at my watch and was running a 6:58 pace! What the heck?! I guess starting out slow really does work!
I even felt good enough to go one more extra mile and  was able to finish with a strong sprint for the last quarter mile. Todays run really gave that confidence boost that I needed. It felt great to get that long run in this week and not feel like I had just gotten hit by a bus! That being said, I was reading an article in Runner's magazine today that talked about mental tricks to use to get you through those mental blocks when running, and some of them really helped me. Here are some highlights:
  1. While your running pick a spot in the distance and pick up your pace until you get there - I did this ALOT during this run and it really helped. The last quarter mile that I sprinted, I focused on an underpass the whole time and it really got me through it.
  2. Pick a new route - this really helped me a lot today too. I found a new way to go on the trail that I had been running on that was a lot nicer and shaded. Plus taking in the new scenery really made me want to go further to see what was next!
  3. Focus on positive things, not negative - this is something that I really struggle with. I will look down at my watch and think "what? 10 minute pace? you slow poke!" and then I will push myself too hard and burn out. Today I focused on comfortably running and not looking at my watch so much and I finished the run feeling proud, not down on myself.
Another tip that I thought worked great was timing my music with my pace. I usually listen to really upbeat music, and that makes me run faster. A lot of times I have trouble starting out slow because I just run. Today, I tried starting out with slower music and then getting up to faster beat music. This really helped me start slow and taper up to a faster pace, which ultimately helped me finish my run strong and with negative splits.
What do you do to get through the "running funk?"
Do you believe that running is more mental than it is physical?


  1. Congrats on the great long run!

    Love the tips, I am always in need of new ways to trick my mind into doing things I know my body can handle! :)

  2. When I get into a funk... sometimes I will pick a saying or a 2 word phrase like 'Run - Strong' and every time my foot hits the ground I say one of the words. Seems to work:)

  3. Wow, I am impressed! I love reading running blogs that make running sound relaxing and make me want to get off the couch right now and go to the gym! I'm going to copy your advice tomorrow when I run - start out slow - that is the hardest for me to do and I know I have been burning myself out. Love the blog its just the inspiration I needed today.

  4. Love the idea of positive not negative focus!! You are a rockstar :D

  5. I find it funny that for you a 9 minute mile is "slow", clearly I'm not a fast runner because I consider that fast for me! :D Of course I haven't run in like 2 years so who knows how fast my slow mile would be now!

    Good for you deciding to have a positive attitude going into your run, it's amazing how much of a difference it can make!

  6. Yay for having a great run! I know we were feeling the same way after you commented on my blog the other day. It's great to break through the funk! Taking off the pressure to run faster helped me a lot. And I am just not a run first thing kind of girl. If that means I have to use the treadmill so I can run mid-morning, that's just what I'll do to get through my summer runs. It's still better than nothing.

  7. I agree with you - changing up the scenery helps a lot. Sometimes I go to the gym and run with the t-mill just for a change of scenery / run with different people around.

  8. I definately need to change my route ... have been doing the same one constantly and I'm bored. Great blog, glad i found you.

  9. I went through a very similar funk with running...I was getting really tired about halfway through my run, even short runs and I couldn't figure out why...but it was because I was starting out too fast...now when I start running my first mile, I try to get in that comfort zone and then I don't even notice when I increase speed because I was already comfortable!
    Good for you on 10 miles!

  10. ugh today i was super sore and struggled. i think i need to get back to listening to music again to help motivate me! I have been switching it up with sprints and x-training etc.