Go ahead. Give it a big ‘ol hug. Make it your friend. Because you know it’s going to greet you somewhere along your run.
Not all runs are sunshine and rainbows. Some are full of clouds and doubt and humidity and pollen puddles and agony.
Whether you are a newbie or have years of experience, you can’t escape the suck. It finds you. It taunts you. It tries to get you to stop.
And the best way to beat it? To acknowledge it with a smile, and let it know you don’t care.
Ultras are the suck’s favorite event. The longer you run the better the chance the suck will pop out of nowhere and join you. Maybe several times. And ultra training is no different.
So, where am I going with this? Yesterday’s long run was full of suck. Right from the first step.
It was humid. So humid it eventually rained. Which I actually didn’t mind until my feet got squishy.
But my head was just not in the game. And the idea of 16 miles seemed daunting. So I just started slow – practicing my “you’re going to be moving for 12 hours in August, so go easy” pace.
I looked for things to distract me. Like this cool tree that is some woodpecker’s favorite.
And the suck sort of stayed at bay…but I could see it out of the corner of my eye, waiting to try to get me.
And then I saw the deer step out of the woods ahead. And the fawn that followed her. I stopped for a staring contest (was not getting any closer – didn’t want to chance it being more than staring. lol). When they continued on, so did I.
And by mile 9, climbing the worst hill on my route, the suck closed in. Strong. Really trying to break me. And I closed my eyes, tossed out my arms and took a deep breath. Welcoming it in, and sending it out.
And it got better…for a while. Especially when I spotted a rare treasure, a random “runners oasis” .
And the downhills that came the next couple miles were great, but by now the rain was picking up. And around mile 13, the suck returned.
My legs went lead, my mind was fighting with me, everything hurt, and I realized I had misjudged my loop and it was going to be closer to 17 miles than 16. Oops.
But again, I embraced the suck. I got comfortable being uncomfortable. And somehow I kept moving.
And watching a chipmunk dash into a hole in a wall, I spotted this…a gorgeous mystery staircase.
And I made it to mile 14, still running. Somehow.
I had originally planned to run the first 13-14 and then run/walk the rest. But since I was going further than expected and now off my “expected return time” I knew I had to just run.
It felt slower than it was. It felt like slugging through molasses with ankle weights. But I embraced the suck and I put my chin up and a smile on my face, and I made it…to mile 17.17.
And you know what? Maybe the suck isn’t a bad thing. It builds mental toughness. It helps teach you to fight. It’s more of a frenemy than pure evil.
Which is good – because I have a feeling I’m going to meet it a lot in the next couple months. 🙂
Happy Monday my friends – and happy running!