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The Anatomy of a Run

Many people are natural runners, and the whole thing just makes sense to them. You can see it in their fantastic form, their faces and in their crazy speed.  I love watching a good runner.  I watch them often. I watch them blow past me on a daily basis when I am running, and I tip my visor and say, “Wow. Look. At. That.”

I am in the middle of a new diverticulitis bout (for those of you who have been playing along at home with Swim Bike Mom for awhile, know that I started having flare-ups after my second 140.6. They have been  under control for about 7 months, but I am sort of in the middle of one now.) Well, my antiobiotics have been obtained and a long run was on the books for today. I thought about bumping the run to Saturday, but I really wanted to get it done. Despite the poopy situation that is my stomach.

So I went anyway.

I have many athletes and friends who are “not” runners.  In their own heads, they have discounted the fact that they are runners–even though they run and do triathlon.  We have had this conversation on the blog many times. If you run, you are a runner.

The most daunting part about triathlon for me, in the beginning (and still), was (is) running.  I think, for the most part, people come to triathlon as runners.  Or swimmers.  Or cyclists.  Me?  Well, I came to triathlon as Choice D, “None of the above.”

[Here’s a little post from 2014 about Learning to Run.] One of my favorite lines from that post is:

  • Do not worry about what you look like when you are running.  Pay attention to your running form–yes–but do not think about what faces you are making, what body part is jiggling, or what the kids on the bus are laughing at.  (It is probably you… just let it go.)

(Every time I see a school bus while I am out running, I cringe.)



So anyway, I went for a 2 hour run (10 miler) today. Even though my stomach was pretty uneasy and I wasn’t feeling the best.

Many new runners tell me, “Well, running is so hard. I don’t like it.”

I will agree that running is and can be hard.  I will also agree that running is so much of a mental game that sometimes it’s incomprehensible to me how I actually get through each run.

Here’s the Anatomy of this particular 10 Mile Run from a non-running runner.

The biggest take home lesson?

Sometimes running is hard and hurts, and guess what?  You have to do it anyway.  You must suck it up, and just do it.

So much of the running (and tri) game is mental.  (See last part of the post).

Mile 1

I pulled up the car to the park and parked.  I went to the bathroom.  I put on the headphones. I was ready. 10 miles, here we go. Time to ruuuuuun!

Beep! goes the Garmin. And away I went.  Step step step… shit… step step step… why…step step step… do… I… step step step… think… I… can… actually… run.

I look down at my watch. 0.25 mile completed. 9.75 to go.

Mile 2

I hate myself. I hate running. I hate triathlon. I hate Ironman. I hate everyone.

It’s 90 degrees in the shade today. Ironman Lake Placid.  Keep moving.

Mile 3

Oh! This isn’t so bad.  My pace is steady. Heartrate is nice.  I can totally do this. I think I will run 15 miles today…

Mile 3.1

I hate this so much I can’t see straight.  Why is running so hard?  Snap out of it. Too far to go, and way too far to go to start whining. Get your head on straight.

Mile 4

It’s one mile back to the car and then I am going home. Justification: surely five miles is sufficient for a “long run” before Ironman.  The sweat has set in.


Mile 5

I am not a quitter. I will fill up my water bottle and then I will turn around and do that entire thing again. Just one more time. Not that big of a deal. Lake Placid.  Keep moving.

Mile 6

Why are my shoes are full of water. That’s sweat! Ew!  Wow. That also means that I have four more miles of sloshing. This is out of control.  I am literally baking in this sun.

Ironman Lake Placid.  Keep moving.

Mile 7

Zoom goes the super fast and fit girl by me.   Catch her.  Oh, hell nevermind. She’s gone.  Like really, gone.  Wow.  Impressive. I want to be like her when I grow up.

My phone is ringing…  Lake Placid.  Keep moving.

Mile 8

I hate everyone. Why are these people walking in the wrong direction? There are signs.  Walkers go against traffic; cyclists go with traffic. What is the confusion?

I love this new Eminem song. I am not Phenomenal, though.  Oh yes I am! What! What!

Mile 9

Two more miles. Pick up the pace… to walking.   Shit. Run, Meredith. Run.  Why would you walk at Mile 9?

Chafing! Ugh. I feel the underarms chafing… my damn batwings.  I wonder how much an arm lift costs, and what the recovery time would be. The batwings have got to go.  There ain’t no amount of tricep extension that’s going to bust up this mess… Ow! Chafing! Lake Placid.  Keep moving.

Mile 10

One more mile. 11 more minutes if you are diligent, 12 more minutes if you slack, and 14 minutes if you quit and walk.  Go….

Done. Where are my snacks…


The Pattern

Here’s the truth about running (for me):

In order for me to get through an entire long(er) run, I must find a pattern of words in my head–and it goes something like this:  

You will not quit until you are done.

Or, in my case, today it was: Lake Placid.  Just keep moving. And moving forward. And just keep moving foward.

Through the last five years, I have run and run and walked and cursed. And the one thing I have learned that is the most simple is this:

I must dig down and do whatever it takes to tell my brain to tell my body that I will finish.

Sometimes that means lying to my brain. I’m okay with that, too. Just Keep Lying Running MOVING Forward.

I make up stories. I focus on the finish line of whatever race is coming. I focus on the pain. I just focus and I keep moving forward.  Truth.


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  • Heather

    July 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Everything about this. Yes. I feel you, and will be thinking of you tomorrow during my 2 hr run. You’re awesome, gal!

  • Jackie

    July 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I agree with EVERYTHING said in your post. Running is hard and a total mental game every time. Yesterday I struggled through 4 miles; how in the hell am I going to get through 26.2?!? Embrace where I am today, push through longer, harder training runs and embrace the suck!!! you are amazing!! Keep pushing hard, you got this!

    • Sam

      July 17, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Yep- embrace the suck- pretty much sums it up. As Paula Radcliffe famously said- it never gets easier- you just get faster! ( Though it is hard to take when some days so feel like you are going slower).

      Running is tough, tough tough…. I try to make myself go out- even for a small distance if I “don’t have time, don’t feel like it, or dream up an injury in my head” As long as you have momentum you can keep going. When you have a few days or few weeks off- it is SOOO hard to get back to it

  • Lisa

    July 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Mere I am laughing my tush off because I posted almost the EXACT same thing on my blog today.

    The conversations I have with myself on the run are nothing less than certifiable!

    Thanks for bringing the funny and validating my crazy once again 🙂

  • Rebecca

    July 8, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Man I hate the run. And what makes it worse is that I choose to go without music etc. Figure if I can’t race with them, why train with them?! I am seriously my own worst enemy. Embrace the suck and know that yes, for me it is going to suck. That’s all I can do. You are my hero.

  • Pam

    July 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    All of it, so true! I was completing my version of a 3 mile track workout last night with two young boys (high schoolers) also working out on the track. I felt like Sam from Captain America every time they lapped me. I just knew they were thinking “on your left” as they passed by!

  • Stephanie

    July 8, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Good to know I’m not alone. I have so many mind games I play get me through- counting, singing songs, focusing on one specific part of my body/form so I don’t hear the other parts screaming at me. Most of us are in full-blown bust ass mode as racing season is upon us, so we are running those long miles less than 24 hrs from a hard biking or swimming workout. Thank you for confirming that WE ARE AWESOME. No matter the pace, no matter the distance, we “keep moving forward”. Love your blog.

  • cheryl

    July 8, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    I love running…I just fell two weeks ago and cracked/bruised my ribs. I got to run a mile yesterday. I was so happy! I have been running for 44 years and have yet to call myself a “runner” or “athlete” or “triathlete”, “swimmer”, “Cyclist”, etc. I will leave those attributes to those that do those things professionally. I am just playing around with it…
    Congrats on your 10 miler! Good job!

  • Kay

    July 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    When I was raising kids and would go to a parenting class where they did a skit of all the wrong things to say to your kids, I thought”How did they get into my house and tape me?”
    Reading this today made me laugh and ask how you know what I am saying every mile of my run?
    Thanks so much, I am not alone!

  • Stephanie

    July 9, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I love triathlon. I do. I really do. But at this point in my training I hate EVERY activity on my training peaks. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
    I especially hate the running. My runs sound much like yours.
    I looked today and cursed out loud when I saw I had a 1.6 mile swim. During the swim, I kept lying that I would quit after I finished each set. Then I would look at what was next, curse out loud, watch the clock and keep swimming.
    When I got home I cursed even louder at the dog (and your name might have been attached) because of the 24 mile bike tomorrow.
    But I still do love triathlon.
    I do.

    Just. Keep. Moving.
    IM Lake Placid for you
    70.3 Santa Cruz in 9 weeks for me.

  • Martha

    July 29, 2015 at 9:14 am

    My sentiments exactly. Running is my nemesis! I’ve grown to love the swim and biking, but continue to struggle with the run. Thanks for the great tips, I’m going to try the HR training approach.


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