Reasons to run

If you make comparisons, you might feel inadequate for being slower than another runner or you feel empty with no goals if you’re ahead.

If you find and know your own internal reasons why you run, others can’t stop you from enjoying running.

My reasons may or may not intersect with yours.

  • It all started with going faster than a walk.
  • To find beauty in nature.
  • To find beauty in strength.
  • Art. Taking photos, writing and talking about insights from running.
  • parkrun. Where do I begin?
  • Big-ass goals. Striving for achievements, and mini-goals and daily achievements along the way.
  • Curiosity, learning, data, statistics, science.
  • Friends. I’ve made more real friends in 3 years of running than I have in a lifetime.
  • Endorphins, and the runner’s high.
  • Weight management and earning more calories for yummy food.
  • Health. Blah, blah, blah, yes, it’s almost a cliché that running’s so good for you, but deep down I ecstatically love those annual “clear health” check-ups that ease many fears.
  • Aspirations towards Sisu. In Finland, Sisu is a unique trait that means consistency and resolute determination. It’s an epic quality of stamina and perseverance, of courage in the face of extreme hardship.
  • Zenmode.

Know your reasons and know they’re yours and you can run happy.

The psychology of running

They say, “Dig deep” on a tough run, but how do we do that? Here are strategies for dealing with critical situations.

You can use these for yourself or alter them to suit your method.

  • If I get too breathless, I will run at a pace that feels like I can run forever.
  • If I’m staring at the ground and feeling weighed down, then I will look up to try and find a nice photo subject.
  • If I want to quit early, then I will focus on completing a mini-goal or route section so I feel hopeful.
  • If I worry about my time or pace, I will remember my fundamental goal is to stay healthy so I can keep running.
  • If my shoulders get tense, I will rotate my arms to ease the ache.
  • If my legs/hips/calves hurt, I will count to ten and practice good form.
  • If I am really struggling, I will “Embrace the suck”.

We can face That Dark Place on a tough run, as I’ve seen someone call it. We shouldn’t be going there every run. It’s probably best to only do it every couple of weeks to avoid burnout. Most training runs should be run easy.

But when you expect a run to be tough and you have contingency plans and strategies for critical situations, you create psychological endurance.

You will probably think negative or defeatist thoughts. Here are ways of digging deep when that happens.

  • Wear a symbolic item that reminds you of your strength and/or why you run.
  • Visualise completing your goal.
  • Remember friends’ compliments about your determination/commitment.
  • Use your senses: Hear the crowd’s encouragement or nature; see the interesting route; taste/drink some water/fuel; feel your skin to make sure you’re sweating and not dehydrated, feel the breeze.
  • Remember overcoming a great obstacle in your life. Think outside the run – remind yourself you can do this, you’ve done other hard things.
  • Swear, and let your monkey feelings out.
  • In a training session, remember the purpose of the workout and remember that performance is improved by trying hard.
  • In a race, remember your training, and how you’ve built up to this. Let it all fall into place.

Being prepared to face That Dark Place can help. Visualise a certain point in the route (e.g. 32 km) and rehearse seeing yourself overcome negativity at that point by remembering these strategies.

You don’t need to leave it all up to luck on the day.

My First 50 km Run

My First 50 km Run – Sunday 10 June 2018 – Recap

I’d been planning it for 6 months. I have a spreadsheet I’d made with a Strava Premium McMillan marathon training plan in it, and the 50 km Ultramarathon training plan from the book, “Relentless Forward Progress”, and I basically managed to follow the distance of the long runs each week, while running 4-5 times a week as directed by what my body could cope with. Every day I would enter what I’d done, and tweak what I would plan to do.

I’d first thought I’d do the Canberra Marathon Festival 50 km event in April, but travel and accommodation were going to be too expensive, plus, events are stressful, so I decided I’d keep it simple: If I want to do 50 km, do 50 km. I don’t need to pay to run – just do it around home.

I chose this weekend, the long weekend in June, since I’d have more days to choose from if the weather was terrible, plus I could have time for recovery. Sunday was perfect. 5-15 Celsius (41-59F).

Started at 6:24 am

1-10 km (1-6 miles)

My usual morning run in the dark route on footpaths along the highway. I saw W and N who both knew what I was up to, and wished me luck. DK tooted her horn at me.

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I made sure throughout the run to only run at a pace that let me breathe easy. Early on, I had to keep slowing down, because I knew I’d need that energy later.

10-25 km (6-15.5 miles)

Uphill to the next town on a fine gravel path, then back down again. Saw G, which was nice. The fog was beautiful in the dawn sunlight.

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25-40 km (15.5 – 25 miles)

More hills. C pulled up next to me at 30 km, and I was happy to report I was feeling alright.

I did start getting slower gradually from there. Around 38 km my left lower back was starting to hurt and I could tell I was tensing up. It helped if I stretched my arms up and out.

Fuel: I ate yoghurt and a big muesli bar before I set out, and on the run I had 2 other bars, a donut, and 2 energy gels with caffeine.

Too much information: Loo stops were at 9, 18, 25, and 39 km. Didn’t “need” them all, but I’d planned the route to go near the loos in case I did need them, and then I used them so I was comfortable the whole time.

40-50 km (25-31 miles)

Mostly flat, on paths around the lake and along the creek. My body was running alright, if slowly, but it was starting to complain in places. It was also getting warmer in the sun. Had arranged for F to run with me for the last section. We chatted, and it helped distract me from the sore back. It was nice to have someone with me when I passed the 42.2 km marathon mark, and enter into the “uncharted waters of Ultra territory”, as F put it. Then it was a painfully slow countdown jog to the finish. I’d called my husband to meet me, and little did I know, my dear friend DB had arranged to be there too, with BB, AB, and G, and bunches of balloons. My own personal finish line and cheer squad!

Too long; didn’t read? Ran 50 km! Achieved my 2018 goal! Ran all the way, which was the cherry on top! Did it in 6 hours as I’d hoped! I have awesome friends.

Fun Stats:

My 40th run of 20 km or over.

12 month streak of running a Half Marathon or more per month.

(Started learning to run on Sept 22, 2015 when suddenly my usual walk wasn’t fast enough.)