They don’t all go well.
It would be nice if every training run started with hope and optimism and finished with satisfaction and fulfilment, the target met, the bar cleared, the aches and pains merely a symptom of a job well done. But sometimes there is a different outcome.
On Saturday, my goal was to run 30 kilometres: 5k to warm up, then 20k at my marathon pace and the last 5k at half-marathon pace. I enjoy the challenge of these fast-finish runs and in the past they’ve strengthened my body and fuelled my confidence as I strived to run faster marathons.
I started a bit later than normal (I had returned late from Montreal the night before after watching Denis Shapovalov win his quarter-final match at the Rogers Cup). There was a risk of thunderstorms and it was supposed to be overcast, but after a few drops of light rain, the clouds parted and it became sunny and muggy. In my first loop of about 15k, everything was on track. But soon the heat and humidity caught up with me.
I maintained my pace through 20k, but each kilometre was harder than the last. Maintaining my current pace was starting to seem more and more daunting, to say nothing of the prospect of increasing my speed by 15 seconds per kilometre for the final stretch. For the 25th kilometre, I ran as hard as I could. When it ended, there just happened to be a bench alongside the path. I sat down, drenched in sweat.
After two minutes of rest, I got up and jogged home. The final 5k were supposed to be the fastest of my day, but they were by far the slowest. I was disappointed but not defeated. If you knock every run out of the park, then you’re probably not training hard enough. The reason these runs are such good tests is because they are hard. It was still a solid long run. And there will be another chance to prove myself next week.