Alisha Perkins is a runner and a mother in addition to being the wife of Twins closer Glen Perkins. She has written for numerous publications -- including her own web site and for Women's Running. She was kind enough to share some thoughts in this space, too, on what it takes to get through those tough moments in training to keep going.
“Running is real and relatively simple but it ain’t easy”
The truth is that sometimes running stinks. There, I said it. It can be hard, brutal, painful, wearing, and downright awful. It can make you curse and cry, make you want to quit or die. But as Dean Karnazes once said “There is magic in the misery, just ask any runner”.
Sometimes the beauty is in the pain. We need to be grateful for the trials because without them we would never find our strength. Without the long runs we would never get the runners high. Without the tempo runs we would never get faster. Without the hills we would not be thankful for those flat stretches. It is the simple things that you need to hold on to when the training comes with challenges.
I have trained for races of many distances: from the one mile race to a full marathon and though the training differs tremendously, the issues that can arise are usually the same. Though I am not running royalty or even an elite for that matter I wanted to let you in on what has helped me get through some of the rough patches in my training. A common (wo)man’s guide to training challenges.
I don’t know about you but sometimes sitting on my butt sounds a heck of a lot more appealing than banging out those 10 miles runs that your training calls for. Not only is the couch calling my name but I am also really good at talking myself into an “off” day.
“You deserve it”
“You’ll do 12 tomorrow instead”
“There is that nagging foot issue, you wouldn’t want to risk it”
We have all done it, right? Lost the motivation and given yourself the a-ok to quit, whether is it for a day, a week, or heck ... even given up on the whole training package.
So what do you do when the going get tough and even the tough can’t get going? Well… for me a few things do the trick.
1. It sounds dumb but go on Pinterest and read running motivation quotes and look at pictures of runners… it kind of gets you pumped up.
2. Meet up with another runner. Running together makes you get your butt out the door and makes the time fly by faster. If someone is counting on you then you are less likely to flake.
3. Don’t allow yourself to watch those shows you love unless you do it from the treadmill.
4. Don’t think, just lace up and go. The longer you wait and more you think the more likely you are to convince yourself onto that sofa instead.
5. Sign up for a race. This will keep you motivated to get ready for the challenges ahead and doesn’t really give you a choice as to whether you run or not.
The dreaded “I” word. We have all had them and as runners we are constantly trying to avoid them. Unfortunately just being a runner puts you at risk for injury; in fact for some it just screams it. Of course some are more prone to injury than others and not all injuries are the same. There are those that nag but you can run through and those that sideline you for weeks, months, or even end your running career.
I have been fortunate enough to be in the nagging category for most of my running time. I have had a tweak here or there but the most that I ever sat out was after I snarled my muscles up pretty good at a full marathon and needed 10 weeks off along with lots of manual therapy to release things and get moving again. While I may not be in the camp of chronic stress fractures and torn ligaments I do get how much it stinks when you can’t run.
The funny part is that when you can run you don’t always want to but once you are injured and are told you can’t there is nothing you would rather do than run. Any runner will tell you that the minute someone tells them they can’t run it is a gut shot, we know all too well that nothing gives you the same feeling that an exhausting run does.
So… when push comes to shove and that shove knocks you down enough that you can’t pound the pavement for a while make sure you are doing anything and everything you can to get back out there. You could try swimming, biking, yoga, walking, massage, therapy, ART, chiropractic work, or even a cortisone shot or surgery if needed. The best advice I can give is to find something that fills the void in the meantime because if you don’t you are going to go crazy and then you have a whole other thing to deal with on top of that stress fracture.
KIDS, WORK, LIFE ...
This one hits really close to home for me. When you think about getting the kids to school, getting your work done, making lunches, dinners, and the cookies for the bake sale, getting the kids to soccer and karate, dropping the dog at the groomers, getting your oil changed, your dry cleaning dropped off, mowing the law, getting the kids to bed, and spending time with your husband it is amazing that anyone has any time to run. I like to think that this is one of the reasons that runners have such a mutual respect for one another. It's one of the reasons we smile and wave as we pass each other on the paths: we know that their plate is full and yet they made the time to make that run a priority. If something is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.
As much as running may be a priority there seems to be a lot of other things that come before it and at times that it just life. When you have an overflowing plate and a run seems unattainable much less time feasible just try to squeeze something in. It can be hard to remember when you are used to running longer distances but something is better than nothing, even that quick 2 miles can do the trick and make you feel less guilty.
Speaking of the guilt though, I have been there, experienced that runner’s guilt first hand and it can be quite a heavy weight to carry. All day you beat yourself up thinking you “really should get a run in” when deep down you know it may not be possible but you still anguish over it all day. I want you to hear me say that you need to give yourself some grace. Even when we have the best of intentions things can come up and send our good-willed plans to the back burner and that is life. If you knew what a struggle this was for me then you would know that I am trying really hard to practice what I am preaching here but it is a battle between what I expect of myself and what is allowed in a day sometimes. Try your best but be OK with the days when your best doesn’t work.
There are so many more challenges in training but I think the most important part is that you are training, whether it is for your next full marathon or your next jog around the block. You are getting out there and staying active, you are making yourself a priority and sometimes that is all we can do. Try not to let the little things get you down, just keep getting out there and you may be surprised what you can figure out on the open road.