That Inexplicable Feeling. By Alan Tou

TORONTO July 31st 2014. Digital Champion Alan Tou began running road races in 2013 and has never looked back. In September of last year, Alan ran the Oasis Zoo Run 10K. The hills and rain were very challenging and he ran it alone. He started the race just metres away from Reid Coolsaet and Lanni Marchant, then finished a few kilometres behind them. Nevertheless, it was an experience to remember. It marked the moment he knew he wanted to run further and faster. On the heels of running his first half-marathon in May and under the coaching of Rejean Chiasson, he is excited to make STWM his first full marathon. Connect with Alan on Twitter @alatus and on his blog.

That Inexplicable Feeling. By Alan Tou.

Waking up the morning after a light evening Alan Tou Tracktrack workout, I wasn’t feeling great but I definitely felt ready for an easy run. It was in the training plan and I was going to have company. “Company” was another Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Digital Champion, Andrew Chak, who I was joining in the middle of his Saturday morning long run. For both of us, the pace was meant to be easy and manageable. That’s why I was so surprised, at around the 5km mark, to find myself wondering whether or not I’d be able to finish the back of the out-and-back. The feeling was foreign and without a name (maybe Olivier). It wasn’t anything in particular except that I was feeling off, mixed with a strong urge to stop and walk; to quit.

As runners, we often think and talk about how fit we are; to those who care and do not care alike. We have an idea about what good shape means for ourselves, and so when we hit the pavement, it’s with the intention of getting to that place or reaching beyond it. That speaks more to the physical side of training. Without the volume banked, after all, the marathon is an all but impossible challenge for the body.

What I was reminded of this morning is another critical aspect of training that I had quite honestly forgotten amidst the focus on fitness building: self-discovery. In other words, no matter how well conditioning is going physically, there are going to be days when we are not “with it” mentally. There is no accurate diagnosis for what I felt this morning or what brought it about, but I am certainly grateful for two things:

1) That it hit me during a training run and not a race

2) That I had good company to help me push through it

Now, if this feeling ever creeps up on me again, it will be familiar, and I will know with confidence that I can shake it off. Now, there is one less wrench that can be thrown into the middle of what would otherwise be a successful race.

There is an enormous abundance of material about running in existence or yet to be written; a lot of tips and tricks. Some of them are useful, but I would suggest the time spent sifting can be better spent running.

Our sport should be kept simple. Training will be slow some of the time, fast at others, short or long. All the while though, what we are always learning to do is to listen to our bodies. Those lessons are more important than any that I or anyone else can impart upon you. They’re also separate from the fitness. As Andrew has wisely said, “Bad training runs can be as good for you as good training runs.” The next time you are betraying yourself, inexplicably wanting to quit, be grateful that it is a feeling common to us all and that it is one that can be overcome.

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