Detours: When Your Run Gets Thrown Off Course
No matter how much you prepare for a long run, or any length run for that matter, there are things that will inevitably happen that can throw you off course. Yesterday I set out for my Sunday “long” run (it was only 7 miles, but good for me in my current state of fitness) and there were so many times where I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk back to my car. I stuck with it and have to say that it wasn’t pretty, in fact it was downright ugly, but I did it. I am stronger because of it. I have more confidence because of it. So, what can put a kink in your stride and what do you do to keep on truckin’?
iPod/phone or GPS/watch dies mid-run. This is the most annoying thing, and yes, both happened to me during yesterday’s 7-miler. I hadn’t prepared the night before for my run and charged my iPod and Garmin like I should have. I figured, “no problem, I will just take my trusty iPhone 4S that is almost 3 years old…” I left the house with an 88% charge on my phone and was using it for my music and GPS (through RunKeeper), when it died before I even hit the three mile mark. Now I had a phone in my pocket that was worthless and ear buds that weren’t doing anything but driving me crazy. After cursing at my phone for a few minutes (how was I going to keep track of my pace now!?), I decided to use the opportunity to enjoy the run for what it was and not worry about my pace. I was also forced to run without music, which is something I usually only do on trails to be more in tune with my surroundings, and it was actually kind of nice to be left alone with my thoughts on the beautiful Sunday morning. I can’t say that I will chose to run like this often, but in the event your gadgets die, don’t let it kill your run. Look at it as an opportunity to run without being plugged into the modern world and enjoy the time to yourself.
You get a side-stitch that won’t go away. This can be so painful and distracting and also happened to me around mile 3 while I was cursing at my phone for dying. Luckily I have learned what works well for me and keeps me going. The trick that I always use to recover from a side-stitch is to breathe out HEAVILY (big burst of air, think blowing a whistle as hard as you can) when your opposite foot strikes the ground that the side-stitch is on. For example, if you have a right side-stitch, like I did, I would blow out forcefully every other time that my left foot hit the ground. Don’t worry about spraying spit everywhere as you do this. It’s inevitable. It is impossible to breathe out heavy like this every time, unless you are going really, really slow, so every other time, or every third time works well. Concentrate on bringing your breath into your belly and exhaling it all with one powerful force. I was back to my stride in about 5 minutes of doing this.
You over- (or under-) dressed for the weather. When I left the house at 10:00 am, it was 40°F. When I got back home at 11:20 am, it was 52°F. That 12° change can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being comfortable in your running gear. I thought that I would need a sweatshirt on my run, but then it got so hot that I was baking. Not thinking straight when I left the house, I failed to layer properly so I couldn’t shed the sweatshirt without risking being too cold in the tank top I had on underneath. This is one thing that I have learned time and again, but never seems to sink in. Take it from me, always layer (for warm or cold) and remember you can take off (or add) layers as needed. If you’re not prepared, then you are going to be incredibly uncomfortable and it can make for a struggle of a run.
There is literally a detour in your running route. This was the one thing that didn’t happen to me yesterday, but it did happen to me today on a 4-miler. Whether it is snow on the trail that makes it impassable without risking injury (my situation today), road construction, or a bear blocking your way (yes, this really did happen once), it is always good to have an alternative route mapped out in your mind before you head out on your run. When this does happen, I always sing in my head “Take the long way home“… gotta love Supertramp. I look at it as the universe telling me I need to get more miles in and just go with the flow. After all, we should just be happy that we are fortunate enough to run in the first place.
What are some of your least favorite detours that can sidetrack a run? What do you do to make the best of it? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.