We here at Upper Left DT don’t like to pretend we’re a pack unicorns vomiting rainbows all over the place. While we like to have tons of fun and train hard, we leave the over the top optimism to the editors over at Trail Runner Magazine. My Instagram may tell a different story, but I’m here to tell you: running isn’t always fun! Most days it is, and should be (why else would we get up before dawn to grind out the miles?) But some days… it’s just not!
The effects of cumulative fatigue can be a factor that leads to some of those not-so-fun days. If you’re a marathoner or ultra marathoner, you’re familiar with the effects of cumulative fatigue throughout a training cycle. While multiple days of unusual lethargy, irritability and tiredness in a row can be a sign of over training (and should be treated as such) we all have days throughout our training cycle where the miles in our legs catch up to us and we feel heavy and tired. This is cumulative fatigue and it isn’t always fun! The best thing you can do on days like these is slow it down and remind yourself that you’ll be back to normal after a good meal and a solid night’s sleep, and that this too is part of the process.
Quality work is another time when the run isn’t always summertime sunshine and fresh peaches. Let’s not be ridiculous here and make it sound like everyone is going to enjoy whipping around a track at 5 a.m. at 6 minute pace; that’s not always awesome. Some of us might love charging hills and gasping for air like asthmatics, but for others, that’s the last thing we’d choose to do on an idle Tuesday. As hard as it feels most of the time, quality work is essential to improving as an athlete and those improvements will be your reward when your nail your “A” race.
That being said, race day isn’t always fun either! If you’re not competitive with yourself or your peers, then yes! Most of the time race day can be fun. If you’re a trail runner who’s simply out to enjoy the view and the social aspect of the event with the bonus of aid stations, you too can enjoy almost every race and that’s awesome! However, if you’re out to compete with yourself for a new PR, to compete with the front of the pack for the podium, or out to finish your first 26.2, chances are race day is going to be a tough day. Rewarding? Oh hell yes! There’s nothing like crossing that finish line with the feeling of euphoria from achieving a new PR, but giving it all you’ve got takes an immense amount of focus and determination, and that isn’t always “fun”.
The best rewards aren’t handed to you, you have to work hard for them. That’s a fact of running and a fact of life. While day to day running adds joy and fulfillment to our lives, it it isn’t always going to be easy, but that’s ok! Getting through the hard days makes the easy days that much sweeter and you know what? 90% of the time you’ll be out there having loads of fun and puking rainbows all over social media like the rest of us.