Contributed By Michele Gonzalez, Owner / Author of NYC Running Mama
One of my favorite parts of a hard run is the moment the pain arrives. Not pain from an injury. But pain from pushing myself.
Maybe it’s my lungs burning during a speed workout. Or my legs when they start to feel the burn from hill repeats. It may just be plain exhaustion when I’m 20 miles into a long run. Or the soreness my legs feel the day after a hard run. Regardless of the type, I have come to expect and welcome the pain. And I’ve taught myself how to keep pushing.
The first time I heard/saw this quote was in 2001. I was a sophomore at West Point and had just working out in the gym (I was no longer playing on the basketball team). After my daily cardio workouts, I would head to the mats to do some ab-work. These words were nailed to the wall I looked up at as I was doing my situps. I saw them every day and learned how to embrace the pain (so much so that I once yelled this phrase at my 11-year old sister when I took her to the gym – whoops!).
If you are looking to improve your racing time – regardless of the distance you are running – you must learn to leave your comfort zone every now and then.
Not every run can be relaxed and easy if you want to improve your race times.
You will never run a marathon at an 8:00 pace if every mile you run during training is a 10 minute mile. Your body will not be ready for the shock and stress of the faster pace if you don’t give it time to practice that pace (or a faster pace).
Nor will YOU know what to expect and how to keep pushing if you don’t practice this pace during training runs.
One of my favorite images from the Olympic Trials for Track & Field over the last two weeks was taken along the homestretch of the Men’s 5,000m final. You can literally see the pain in Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat’s faces.
Fall marathon training is in full swing (btw – I am SO jealous of everyone that has begun their training!!). The heat/humidity of the summer makes it easy to get into the routine of heading out on easy runs every day. While easy/recovery runs are a VITAL part to your training plan and will help ensure you show up to the start line rested and injury-free, they will not be the reason you cross the finish line at your goal time.
Embrace the pain.
Look forward to it on a hard run.
Learn to love it.
It will make you a stronger runner.
Note: Not every run should be an all-out effort. Your training plan should be a mix of hard runs that take you out of your comfort zone (whether it’s in pace or distance or a combination of both) and easy/recovery runs that give your body a chance to recover from those hard runs while getting some mileage in.