Purpose Of A Run VS Plan Of A Run

Why being unable to run at the pace you planned to does not make that run a failure.

As we all know, weekends were invented to give runners time for our long runs. Some people prefer Saturdays, others prefer Sundays. I’ve used both and like them equally, but this week my long run was slated for Sunday.

So today I had a 20 mile run planned, and I wanted to have 2 sets of 4 miles at my projected marathon pace (MP) in that run, hopefully somewhere under 6:25/mi. I’m a proponent of some long and medium long runs having race pace miles worked into the mix. The purpose of this workout was to run long with a couple sections of fast miles, in order to exhaust me while also allowing me to complete that long distance.

I started out with 5 comfortable miles, then crushed the next 4 in about a 6:22 average as planned. It was tough, (and hot), but I spent the next 7 miles recovering, fueling (raisins YUM), and hydrating, and got started on my second set of 4 miles at MP. The first went alright, but the next two I just couldn’t get myself to keep the pace up, and about halfway through the final mile I gave up on trying to and settled into a slower pace for a bit, before pushing hard at the very end. I wanted to average around 6:22 again for these last 4 miles, but instead my mile splits at the end were 6:18, 6:48, 6:42, and 6:56.

So I failed… I couldn’t complete the workout as planned.

Just as I was starting to feel down on myself, sitting on a bench trying to catch my breath, exhausted, I thought about the purpose of this workout. The purpose was to go on a long run, with a couple of sections pushing the pace hard. I had a plan for what that pace should be, but in the grand scheme of things the purpose wasn’t to run those exact splits. I ran a long run, and there were two sections where I pushed the pace and was left exhausted, and that was the real goal of this workout.

There’s no way to know for sure what your body will be capable of on any given day. You can plan to run X miles at Y pace, but behind the scenes your body may have other plans.

Every workout should have a purpose, and you should do all you can to run with that purpose in mind. You can and should have a plan for your workout as well, but when things don’t go to plan, it’s not the end of the world. Your run wasn’t a failure just because you couldn’t do what you planned to do. You still went out there and ran, and that in and of itself is something you should be proud of. And if you ran with purpose, your run was a success.

How To Prevent Side Stitches While Running

2 step method for preventing a side stitch during a run.

Here’s a tip I discovered somewhat accidentally when trying to cure a recurring case of side stitches (or stomach cramps, side cramps, whatever you want to call them). It’s a two step process:

Step 1- On a normal run when you don’t get them, take note of your breathing pattern. Track how many steps you inhale vs how many steps you exhale. A common pattern is 2×2, meaning you inhale for 2 steps, and exhale for 2 steps. My pattern is 3×1. I found that I’m most comfortable inhaling for 3 steps, and exhaling hard for one. Your rate can change depending on your speed, but find out what your comfortable breathing pattern is and stick to it!

Step 2- If you feel a stitch coming on, adjust your breathing pattern to do the majority of your exhaling on your foot on the opposite side of the stitch. Not sure why this works, but it does. You might feel constantly on the brink of getting one, but sticking to your comfortable breathing pattern and exhaling on the correct step should stop it from becoming a full on stitch.

That should hopefully be enough to help you fend off a side stitch, but if you can’t seem to get rid of it you may need to take an extended break from the run you’re on, or even cut it short. Running through that pain is a grueling experience and stumbling along in agony is not going to make you a better runner.

I have a theory that getting a bad case of side stitches one day leaves you more susceptible to getting them again the next day, which is all the more reason why if you feel it coming on, stopping and choosing to live to run another day might be wise.

So there you have it, my two steps to preventing side stitches. If you have any tips drop me a comment and I’ll test them out next time the need arises (which hopefully won’t be for a long, long time).