Tough Runs Make Tough Runners
I’ve always said running is a fickle sport because some days you have it and some days you “don’t”. As an endurance runner you probably know what I mean; some days you run marathons or long distances and other days you feel like you can barely make it through one mile. This can even translate to a race. You put your heart and soul into training and no matter how perfect the training plan was or how much you fueled up beforehand, it doesn’t always come together on race day. While this feeling isn’t fun, one thing I’ve learned through running over the years is that some of the toughest runs lead to the biggest improvements and learning opportunities. “The comeback is always greater than the setback!” In talking with some of our AMPT Ambassadors, I learned that they echoed my sentiments. Here’s what a few of our ambassadors had to say when asked what they learned after their “worst” race: – Listen to your body and don’t run injured, says Stacey Wilcox. “My worst race was near the end of 2020 and I’d been over training all year. By the time this particular race occurred, I’d already run another half marathon the week before and had a difficult run due to foot pain. Instead of resting like I should have, I continued to train during the week with a sore foot and I chose to run another race/half-marathon. Despite the excruciating foot pain, I managed to finish the race. A week later, I found out from my podiatrist that I had a stress fracture and I had to stop running until my foot healed. If I had just listened to my body and rested instead of over training when I first noticed the pain a month earlier, I could have avoided injury and having to take so much time off from running.” – Get to know your strengths and prepare accordingly! Katie Callendar: “I participated in a night race 1/2 marathon last summer. It started at 10:00pm and it was in July, so the heat and humidity was in full swing. I had a terrible experience, and learned that my body prefers to run in the morning, on an empty stomach, and after the night sky has removed as much heat from the pavement as possible!” – Control your controllables and learn from the rest – Ashley Morrison: In 2019 I ran the Chicago Marathon with my husband. We trained for months and were laser focused on our PR goals. During this time I was experiencing some groin pain that I ignored (and later had to deal with, as Stacey also mentioned). The first half of the race went well. I was on pace and felt strong! Around mile 14 or 15 things changed quickly and I started experiencing extreme pain with every step in my hip and groin. It was the worst it had ever been, but I was determined to finish the race since I was running for charity. I was so disappointed in my performance that it stuck with me for weeks until I realized the only thing I could do was move forward and try again! I went to PT, trained differently to get stronger, and came back with a 20+ minute PR in Houston 2022! Overall, my biggest takeaway from racing has been that no matter how hard we try, we can’t control everything as runners. There are some things that no amount of training runs can prepare you for (weather, how you’ll feel day of and mid-race, other runners, course conditions, the list goes on), and sometimes it doesn’t all come together as planned. In the end, that’s okay! It’s easy to get caught up in PR’ing, especially when so much time and dedication has gone into the preparation, but at the end of the day remember why you started running and run for the love of it! If you know it’s not going to be your best race ever, just give it your best in the moment and learn from the rest! Every experience is an opportunity grow and you can always implement the “should-have’s” next time!