I once interviewed a very famous, world champion endurance athlete on techniques he’s learned over the years. He told me something that really stuck: In training, he’d eat a big bowl of nachos with cheese and other excessively evil foods just before a long run. Naturally, he’d vomit during the run and his stomach would shut down. However, this taught him to keep going even in the worst of pain. That way, come race day, when he’d eventually start to bonk, he’d have trained his body well to handle any kind of disgusting pain and could always make it to the finish line.
While I haven’t trained to this extreme, my thoughts do run (excuse the pun) to this interview when I’ve had maybe one too many fries before a long run and I suffer gastrointestinal distress. I think it’s important to shake up the running routine and try something new every so often. Here are a few techniques I like to take:
I do a race that isn’t timed. Many female-only mud runs are making their way to cities near you, and they’ve done away with timing. It’s nice to take my time in a race and not worry about what my Garmin says. I just hang out with my girlfriends and take the opportunity to really enjoy running without caring about the finish clock. If we hang out a little long at a particular obstacle, that means we get to spend a few extra minutes together.
I run at night. I run best during mid-day when I’m a little more awake than just after I roll out of bed with no caffeine… or just after work when I need some time to digest the day. Mid-day seems to be when I’m most alive. But I shake it up and run after 8 p.m. to shock my body. I don’t think my body appreciates the shocking and neither does my alarm clock, as I hit snooze a few extra times (running at night invigorates my blood so I don’t fall asleep easily). But I feel like it makes it harder, and harder is always a good thing. That means I’m not falling into a running rut.
I run my entire time up a hill. Near my house is a long, treacherous four-mile hill. It’s ugly. It’s brutal. Bikers curse it; runners’ legs scream at it. But we all make our way up it no matter what the pain. It makes my legs stronger and more appreciate of flat roads.
Try out something new and see what happens!