By: Brian Reynolds
Fred Devito once said “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”. This has never felt so true until I was running in Florida during the Holidays last year.
My plan was a 90 minute training run. I felt ok the first 15 minutes but as my body heated up more and more things gradually got tougher. I was starting to feel the effects of the 80 degree weather. However, I did not want to swallow my pride by slowing down so instead I just tried to tough it out and run the same pace just like I would back in Michigan.
When I was 30 mins into the run I realized that the pace I was running was not going to be sustainable unless I wanted to run at a heart rate of 180 bpm which is a 5K effort for me. So I backed off my pace so I could finish the run.
At the 45 minute mark I had to stop for a water break and recollect myself. I rarely stop for a drink break however, today was an exception. When I started running again I told myself to not worry about pace and just focus on keeping my heart rate at an aerobic threshold. Switching my focus from pace to heart rate gave me something tangible to target.
Unfortunately the run did not get any easier. After taking another water break at the hour mark I was able to finish the run. I still recall my legs and body feeling like dead weight after that run even though I was running a really easy pace. I was use to the 30 degree weather that I left in Michigan, the sun and heat sucked the energy right out of me.
There were a lot of good lessons that I took away from this tough run. I had to accept the fact that I was not going to run at my usual pace due to the conditions. This run was a workout for my mental game because I had to change my expectations during the run and focus on perceived exertion and heart rate which I normal don’t pay attention to during training. This kind of workout is great preparation for a race with non-ideal weather conditions.
I now look at these tough training days as a opportunity to become a stronger competitor. Imagine never dealing with adversity in training and then you go into your next race having to face terrible weather conditions, a tough course, etc. By not having rough workouts you could be missing out on valuable experiences and lessons that could make you a better athlete.
As they say you will learn more from a bad workout than you will from a good workout. The key is to learn and apply those lessons in your training. My lessons that day were to practice patience and run to effort rather than pace.