Keeping it going

Can anyone tell me why some days it feels really brilliant to be out there running and the next day it is a real struggle to put one foot in front of the other?
I went out for a long run (well long for me approx 6 miles) on Sunday it felt great and I really enjoyed it. I have entered a 10K in September,and started thinking that I wasn't going to be able to do it. Hence the six mile run. My usual milage is approx 2.5miles 3 times a week with a longer 4 mile run at weekends. Was quite tired on Sunday night so didn't run on Monday to give myself a rest day. Did go out Tuesday but boy,it was a real struggle, I was breathless and found I was taking walk breaks when I don't usually. As a result when the alarm went off this morning I couldn't get the motivation to get out of bed, let alone go for my run.
Is this a common problem? Or do you think I just upped my milage too fast and need to take longer to recover?
Any ideas?


  • There are going to be those days. Sometimes you find out why later (cold starting, or..) sometimes you actually know why already (the night before or..) and sometimes they just happen.

    If I feel like stink I still try terribly hard to make myself start a run, promising myself that if I start REALLY slowly, and at the end of a mile still feel wretched, then it is probably time to call it a walk.

    If I feel only pretty bad, I take the extra walk breaks, and pretend it's training for miles, 21 through 26 of a marathon (I've not yet run one).

    And I make a promise not to get mad at myself for these days, but rather be pleased that I at least tried.

    It's when you get a whole string of such days that you've got to do something: ease up, take a holiday from running (set a time span and don't begrudge it), check you're not anaemic, eating ok, sleeping ok and the like.

    What constitutes a string? In my case a week. Never had unexplained bad runs for over a week.

    But above all, don't get mad at your body for it: it does help to remember that you and your body are actually on the same team.

    Let us know what happens, and good luck. Marj
  • Aaaw Marj & Slowcoach -- this was just what I needed!!! I had a really bad run tonight.

    I posted in the training thread but basically I ducked out of even completing my normal 2 miles. I just was finding it so difficult to concentrate and to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    Slowcoach -- This has happened a couple of times to me since I've been training (4 weeks). I'm due to run a 5K race for work on 8th Sept and nights like these, I don't think I'll do it. I think upping the mileage could be a factor but I would say as Marj said, sometimes it just happens. The best piece of advice I've been given is to listen to your body and if the body is telling you it can't do it - don't force it or it'll end up injured. I'm beginning to wish I'd never entered the 5K race because it is so near and I don't feel ready and I feel like I could go back to my beginner schedule anyday.
  • Fiona MFiona M ✭✭✭
    Cath you will most DEFINITELY be fine for your 5k - if I could manage to hobble round it at walk-a-minute, run-a-minute in 36 mins (in May) after about 4 weeks running, you will be just fine.

    On the topic of bad days - and one for the girlies - what are other people's experiences of running whilst pre-menstrual? The most dramatic "bad run" I had (had problems getting enough breath into me to run a minute, let alone the 5 or so I had been doing at that point) turned out to be due to that - and it's not something I usually had trouble with. Have noticed it mildly since then but never as bad again to date.
  • Cath, I did a 5K 5 weeks after I started running or rather running/walking. I didn't run all the way I stopped and walked twice but finished in 31mins. (I was dead chuffed) So think you'll be fine.
    Really impressed you run at night as I tried it once or twice but found it really difficult. I usually fall out of bed around 5.30am and start. Sure my brain isn't awake enough to register what I am doing and by the time it has I am almost finished anyway!
  • Not too good news, today.
    Did drag myself out of bed, more like 6am, took 30mins to get up. Did go out but found it really difficult. My legs felt like lead, and I was tight chested and very breathless. Had to cut 1/2 mile off my usual distance, took walking breaks, and really was doing a walk/jog rather than a run.
    Feeling quite depressed at the moment, feel as if I am taking backward step rather than improving.
    I don't think I have been overdoing it. Although maybe my body is tring to tell me otherwise.
    Mind you been going through a bad phase with the old diet at the moment. Maybe its my body telling me it doesn't like all the rubbish I have being consuming. I still haven't quite got my head round the food for fuel thing rather than eating for comfort or pleasure.
    Whatever the reason I am going to try real hard not to let this become an excuse to stop.
    Hope you all have better day.
  • Slowcoach

    Every runner, no matter what their experience level, goes through those days when you just can't seem to drag yourself out of bed or out of the door. We all dream of those nirvana like moments when we're seemingly gliding across soft trails with a light mist hanging in the air!

    So don't worry and don't get depressed provided - provided you stick at it you'll get through your difficult patch.

    One common failure that can cause the symptoms you describe is not taking on enough water - especially if you're running early morning. During the day if you're not going to the toilet every 1-2 hours then you're probably dehydrated.

    Good luck and focus on that 10k - you're definitely in good enough shape.
  • Martin -- I'm convinved that my bad day yesterday was down to dehydration. I didn't feel dehydrated but as I've said previously I'm not the quickest on the uptake with stuff like that. I did the old "skin-on-back-of-hand-pull-up" test yesterday evening and a little ridge of skin took ages to settle down - so I think it was down to not enough water. The problem then is preparation I find... drinking enough throughout the day to get through the run later because I certainly can't run with a full tumy of water!! Thanks for that.

    Slowcoach -- thanks for the comment re: 5K. I'm in a better frame of mind today. I was just so disappointed in myself last night. But, it's just one of those things and I'm not going to let it beat me. I think I'm also probably still training too hard - I trained everyday last week (didn't run everyday but went to the gym) and I had a twisted knee due to dog collision on Thursday - so I tried to pick up the training on Monday and I'd intended to at least train Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Now that's changed to Thursday and Sunday. I'm finding at the moment I need two rest days between runs... maybe that's just me because I've only just started but rest is key (so I've been told).
  • Cath - I thought ht eskin on the back of the hand test was a test for ageing? Is it also supposed to be for dehydration?

    Anyway - as regards overtraining and your concern about doing two much, there are two schools of thought, one about routine and the other about variety i.e. those in the variety camp say you should vary your training to keep it interesting, those in the routine school favour doing a set session on a set day (so that your body and mind get accustomed to it - like cleaning your teeth). I tend to believe in the second school - possibly too much - but I do prefer planning particular sessions for particular days, I find it psychologically much easier. However, being injured as I have been have meant changes to my routine which has been really hard!

    Waffle, waffle.

    PS: Did someone stick a pin in your head to get it back to normal?
  • Does anyone think that air quality could be a factor? My morning run takes me near a fairly major road and sometimes
    I can really taste the pollution.
    Also can anyone tell me if it's bad to drink coffee before running.

  • Martin -- Blueknees stuck a virtual pin in me :) and as I understand it the skin on back of hands test was always a quick way of testing the elasticity of skin - i.e. how hydrated it is. Surely an ageing test would be to just count the wrinkles around the eyes..? Or to look and see if there's an old dear in front of you - maybe V-rap knows :)

    Also, I'm struggling a bit with the routine versus training bit. I have tried to get 4 sessions in one week and three the next so that it works out I'm training every other day. But it hasn't worked out like that. I've been pretty unstructured in my approach in the hope that I might gain by varying things a bit. The other problem is that I'm in training for a 5k (first) which foolishly I agreed to do for work (corporate race thing) and so I'm under a bit of pressure to be upto scratch for it - whereas if I'd just started and was just bumbling along I could take steps back in the training schedule but instead I feel as if I have to keep progressing even though I keep telling myself, I can walk it if I have to!!
  • Also - missed ChrisP there -- I don't think it was in my case last night because I wa sin the gym on the treadmill but I have also heard that air conditioned gyms make a difference to hydration levels too..?!!
  • Cath - I think the fact that you've taken up any training programme at all is a step in the right direction and "bumbling along" as you say will get you to a certain level of fitness. However, in order to improve more linearly its better to have a structure but more importantly structure makes training easier (in terms of doing it) because you have to devote less time to thinking about what training you will do (and less excuses not to do it). In part that why I like to exercise almost every day and my injury adjusted schedule now looks like:

    Mon - Bike
    Tue - Run
    Wed - Cross Train
    Thu - Run
    Fri - Rest
    Sat - Run
    Sun - Run

    I will also generally have in mind what I'm going to do each day, without being a slave to it i.e. if I have to work or I feel tired I will move my rest day or train less intensively.

    If you want to run a 5k race I would seriously recommend following a beginners 5k schedule as it would give you the routine.
  • Martin, Do you think it is a good idea to do something every day, even when you are a beginner. I was under the impression that rest days were important. I see that you only take one rest day. I wasn't sure if you should rest completly or whether it was okay just to do something different. At the moment on my rest days I don't do anything else. Did wonder about going out on my bike instead. But didn't want to overdo it.
    I did have a look at some training schedules but was a bit bambozzled by it all. All the different interval training etc. Have included a long run once a week usually on a Sunday when I have more time. But wasn't quite sure about the rest. Usually just run my usual route apporx 2.5 miles 3 or 4 times a week. Maybe part of my problem is that I am getting bored with doing the same thing all the time. I may hunt out some schedules and give them ago. Although the 10K is looming ever closer and I'll need to get in gear shortly.

    Cath I know what you mean about feeling as if you can't take steps backwards as you have things ahead of you. Ever since I entered this 10K I have been questioning my sanity. It has put added pressure on my training. I though that it would spur me on but I seem to be going backwards instead. Maybe I have just bitten off more than I can chew.
  • Here's something for you to think about slowcoach.

    I am in my third year of running. The last two summers I went through very bad patches and had to stop for 2/3 months. I am slightly asthmatic and assumed it was this. Well it was in a way but I saw my GP he told me I was probably suffering from an allergy without really appreciating it. I now take some stuff for the allergy and I am running this summer without a problem.
    I suffered the same problems - a feeling of lethargy. I went from doing 20-odd miles a week to not being able to run 50 metres. It was like hitting a brick wall.
  • As Martin as already said, we all got those bad days, when things are a real effort and you start questioning your sanity. I always try and learn something from each session, even it is as simple as realising I have been pushing myself too hard.

    We all have limits, strengths and weaknesses and part of training is finding out what they are and how to combat the weaknesses and benefit from the strengths. Often the only way to do that is to be prepared to experiment in order to find what is right for you.
  • Slowcoach - I'm not a beginner I'm just loitering!

    Seriously though I have been running on and off for about 20 years (I'm 37 now) and I hope its useful to share my experiences with those starting out.

    Whilst I train almost every day for some people, particularly those starting out, its probably neither good nor possible! My point was about establishing exercise as part of you daily routine - most exercise experts though would say that so long as you do a minimum of 30 minutes three times a week then you will get a long term benefit.

    Running the same route day in and day out will lead to staleness and I would recommend the following:
    1. Turn the route route and run it in reverse.
    2. Try and get off road into a local park or something.
    3. Once a week I take my running kit to work and then drive somewhere different for a run after work.
    4. Join a local club - this will really help with motivation.
    5. I try and have an adventure once a week where I head out the door not precisely sure where I'm going, or for how long - I just run a rough loop and then when I feel tired head for home.
  • Martin, Sorry after rereading my posting that does rather sound like a judgemental first sentence. That wasn't the intention it was more a question about what you thought not a judgement about what you do. If that makes sense. Just wanted to know if rest days mean rest from running or actual rest. Probably tied myself up in knots here. I am really grateful for the advice. Will try out your tips about changing my route. Not too sure I am up to joining a running club. Its quite popular where I live and a lot of very fit triathletes. Think I would like to feel as if I can hold my own a bit better first. Sure they are all a really great bunch though as everyone on the forum is really friendly and helpful.

    Rincewind - really interested to hear your theory as I am also slightly asthmatic and do suffer with a lot of allergies. Actually have been at my GP because I am having trouble with my eyes, another allergy. May be anti-histamine may be the solution. Will also up my fluid intake to see if that helps.

    Ian thanks for the advice. I will try and experiment as I am quite determined that this time I am going to keep going. As this must be the longest I have kept up any exercise program.

    Martin sorry again if I sounded judgemental, I didn't actually think you were a beginner. And I do think that it is really useful you sharing your experiences with people like me. Thanks
  • Slowcoach - I didn't think you were being judgemental at all and I in turn apologise if you misread my response.......we're so polite on these forums!

    Opinions differ on rest days some say take complete rest others say cross train. My view is a bit of a mixture! If you feel really tired then you should definitely rest - muscles need it to get stronger. On the other hand I believe part of the cause of a recent injury of mine has been due to 'muscle imbalance' i.e. my running muscles are great but at the expense of others, which puts strain on things like joints. So if you're up to it - it might be a good idea to cross train on a "rest day" e.g. swimming, cycling or circuit training.

    On the subject of being asthmatic - I have been asthmatic since I was little but as I've got older it is now just exercise (or cat!) induced. I find that a puff of salbutamol before each run makes a huge difference. Do you take anything?
  • Hi Martin,
    I take sambutamol before running too and so far have been ok while I run but I also take Becotide twice a day and that helps. Like yourself I have had it since I was little and it is now only induced by exercise or if I am in an extremly smoky environment. Was always told I would grow out of it but no such luck.

    I think I will cross train on some of my rest days as sometimes feel I should be doing something instead of just lazing for an extra hour in bed.
    No training today though still not sure whats up but chest was tight and asthma worse this morning. Will take some time out to see if this is going to manifest into a cold or something.

    Enjoy your rest day.
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