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Running When You’re Not Feeling It

Rain on an umbrella from passing showersImage via Wikipedia

Sometimes your best runs come on days when you least feel like getting out there – today was one of those days for me. The weather in NH has really been awful lately, and the consistent lack of sunlight has sucked the life out of me. On top of the horrid weather, I’m in the last week of teaching before the start of my summer vacation (I opted to teach summer school this year), and I’m feeling incredibly worn down and burned out. A break is badly needed at this point, if for no other reason than to allow me to sleep in a bit and restore some of my sapped energy (presuming my kids allow me this luxury, which is always questionable).

Earlier today, my wife and I were at the store picking up supplies for our next camping trip and trying to figure out how we would fit in our respective runs later in the afternoon. I told her that I wasn’t feeling much up to running, and would probably take the day off. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that a run would probably help give me a boost. I once read/heard somewhere that if you absolutely don’t feel like running on a given day, just tell yourself you’ll do a short, easy one to get yourself out the door. That initial inertia is usually the hardest to overcome, and if you can just manage to get yourself moving, sometimes a great run will follow.

It was with this last thought in mind that I clipped on Jack’s leash and headed out the door. The plan was to do 3-5 miles at an easy pace (probably 8:00-8:30 min/mile), but Jack clearly had other ideas from the outset. As we headed down the street, a neighbor’s car approached with two of his best canine buddies’ heads hanging out the windows. As they turned down a side street, Jack begin to surge ahead and he pulled me with him. Seeing his buds had clearly lit a fire in Jack, and for the first mile it was all I could do to keep him close to me. We finished mile 1 in 7:44, and I was feeling pretty good – it was still cool out, and my legs were loosening up nicely. I thought to myself, “if the dog wants to run, then we’ll run.” I kicked into a higher gear, and pushed on down the road, finishing miles 2, 3, and 4 in 7:19, 7:12, and 7:16 respectively. As I approached what would be the final mile of the run, I could see that Jack was tiring, but that he was still holding up well. I decided to push the pace a bit more, and we finished mile 5 in 6:32. That was the fastest single mile I had run since early March (during my last 5k), and it felt great to finally cut loose a bit. All told, we ran 5 miles in 36:03, and I felt great. Jack was laboring when we got home, but he’s in good shape so he recovered quickly, and I really owe this run to him. He’s one of the main reasons why I went on the run in the first place, and the spring in his step at the beginning spurred me to pick up the pace. From a confidence standpoint, there’s also something inherently satisfying about being able to outrun a dog over a long distance – Jack is a far better sprinter, but over five miles I can usually outlast him without much problem. He’s definitely earned a nice easy run down to the river tomorrow for a swim!

So if you’ve made it this far, my advice to you is the next time you don’t feel like running, force yourself to get out there if even for just an easy jog. You never know, it ust might turn into one of the best runs you’ve had in months!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

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