Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Running Through the Flat Times

You know those days when everything is just clicking?

Those days when it just seems you were destined to be a runner because you can't wait to go for your run and when you do, it seems like nothing can stop you?

We all have those from time to time.

And then, most days you look forward to traininng and at least once you get moving everything seems to smooth out and start working. Most of us, if we run regularly have a lot of the same feelings around our runs. Sometimes we don't feel like it and yet when we get moving its all good. Other days we can't wait to get out there and the rewards are just incredible.


What about those times when you really want to run and you just plain feel flat?

Have you ever had that feeling? How long does it last for you? Have you ever figured out what really caused it?

There has been a lot of research and experimentation around what to do when you hit a plateau and yet I'm not really certain this is what it is. A plateau for all intents and purposes iss a point in your training where no matter how much training you do, you seem to reach a point of diminishing returns.

That being said, I wouldn't really describe this as a plateau. Nor would I call it overtraining or burnout.

Quite simply... its just a flat spot. I've had this happen a few times over the last couple of years. Maybe even twice per year. When it comes on at first I get a little freaked. I just wake up one day and when I head out for a run, everything seems really flat.

What do I do? I used to do the complete analysis. What's wrong with my: nutrition, sleep, the weather, other areas of my life. I'd look at everything trying to find the broken link.

Nowadays, I just push through. What I found was if I thought I was getting sick and I focused on it, I got sick. If I thought the weather was just too hot and I focused on it, suddenly 75 degrees was too hot to run in.

My formula?

Go back to the basics. Put one foot in front of the other. If I have to walk, I walk. If I have to run a little shorter run, I run a little shorter run. If I feel the need to slow down my pace, I slow down my pace.

One thing for certain is I don't panic and I know that it will pass and maybe just maybe, I'll come out on the other side a little stronger and a little faster. Life is a journey not a destination and as far as I'm concerned I have a whole lot of running left to do before I do actually reach the finishline and so I'm not going to let a little flat spot (even if it does last for a couple of weeks) get me down.

Neither should you. If you've been running long enough you have probably had a similar experience and if you continue to run it will likely happen again. Don't let it derail you rather, use it as an opportunity to work on your drive and determination.

My second run of the day will be a short three miler and I'm certain that while my long run this morning sucked, this little run will be fast and that... is a good thing!

Pushing through and I'll see you on the other side!


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