A few weeks ago I had a pretty rough long run. I couldn’t get my fuel open. My hands were cold. I had to pee. (So I obviously peed on my hands to keep them warm.). Okay. Not really.
Things go wrong when you are running. That is normal.
Things can go very wrong when you are training for a half marathon or marathon and tackling long runs. The longer you’re out there running for hours at a time there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong with your body, the weather, your route, your gear, motivation, energy, your phone or GPS watch, your running buddy …
Things that can go wrong during a run include, but are not limited to the following:
blisters, stomach issues, falling, getting lost, running out of fuel, chafing, water fountain broken, cramp, wearing too much or not enough clothes, phone dying, bee sting(!), injury coming on, hitting the wall, getting a call you have to take, crying, laughing, peeing, getting hungry, nose bleed…
Your job during training is to use the bad runs as a learning experience. It’s never a ‘throw-away’ run. You learn more from the bad runs than the good ones.
So, when you have a bad run – note it, learn from it and move on to run another day.
Training for half marathon or marathon is the BEST time for stuff to go wrong.
Yes. If something is going to go wrong during a run you’d rather it happen during training and NOT during the race.
So, when something does go wrong use this process to fix it and learn from it.
What to do when your long run goes wrong:
First, be happy it’s not race day!!
(If it is race day – uh oh, you’re in trouble. Just kidding. Use the steps below to problem solve and fix it.)
Be a Problem Solver.
A. Identify the issue:
Be specific on what is going wrong.
example: If you are having a hard time taking in fuel – that is the main problem.
But that starts to affect your energy and stamina. And feeling depleted of energy can make you hit a wall psychologically. So it starts to snowball and then you might freak out and be unable to recognize and fix the main issue.
B. Assess how serious it is.
Is it major?
Ex. An injury? Something that makes you feel dizzy? Major stomach issues?
If it’s something you’d consider serious and/or needed immediate attention:
-> Stop to assess the issue. What do you need to fix it? Do what you can to fix it right away.
Do you need to stop running? Do you need to walk? Do you need to find a restroom asap? Need to sit down? Do you need to find salt? Do you need water?
If it is a medical situation you should stop and get help. This could be anything from an Uber home to sitting on the curb for a while to locating the nearest place to get water/fuel. But ‘toughing it out’ and potentially making an injury worse or passing out is NOT good for you or your running.
Is it minor?
Ex. Slowing down. Harder course than expected. Music isn’t working.
-> Stop to walk or slow down. Do what you can to fix it – get water, fix your music…
C. Choose a solution and fix it.
Now that you know the problem and how serious it is – move forward to fix it.
Ex. Water, Fuel, Salt, Rest, Positive Thinking, Emergency Help…
Pick your solution and go with it. Fix it. Try not to let pride, emotions, fear, pain, stress… get in the way. This is you working as a coach for yourself and fixing the problem. You can figure out how this may impact your training later.
Is it helping? Good. Keep it up.
Is it not enough help? Okay. Problem solving is a process – what else can you do?
The key is to stay calm and focus on the fix (not the problem). You can get through it. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.
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