the one where i have an emotional breakdown

Things have been going really well. Too well, I guess.

My runs have all been pretty positive and affirming. I’ve been keeping up with my speedwork and weekly mileage increases. I’ve felt strong and empowered. Sure, there were some occasional off days, where maybe my legs felt a little sluggish or I was dragging a little, but nothing major, and my attitude has pretty much been that you can’t have the good without the bad, but I would make up for it next time.

And then came Sunday. I was planning on 11 miles, which was freaking me out because the last time I did 11, it was pretty rough. Pile on some guilt that I bailed on Saturday (reason? torrential downpour and exhaustion from working most of the day and night at little man’s school carnival), and my mental state could only be described as “unprepared.”

I tossed around the idea of just going for 12 instead of 11. Just because I thought maybe the number was creating the block in my head. I didn’t commit one way or the other, but just decided to see how it went.

Things started out ok.

I selected a new route to mix things up and make them more interesting. I thought having some new sights and a new configuration of road would be a good way to keep my mind off how I was feeling. It was a good plan, and it actually seemed to be working. I was kind of excited to see a pig I didn’t know was in residence, and later on I caught of glimpse of the local zebra.

I was up to over six miles by the time I returned to the main road, but I was starting to struggle. I had a pain in my hip and my breathing was getting hard to control. During a walk break, I texted Mr PugRunner to give him a status update. I was trying to make it home in time for church, and wasn’t sure if I could. He asked how it was going and I responded that I was going to push for 12 but I didn’t think I was going to make it. His reply: “What is 1 more after 11? Get your head straight and do 1 extra.”

And I lost it. I couldn’t catch my breath and I thought I was going to be sick. I had just turned into a neighborhood and I sat myself down on the curb and started crying.

Because that’s what any reasonable adult would do.

I felt like an imposter. A fraud.

I’ve been “running” for nine months. And I think I like it. I mean, why else would I get up every day, lace up and subject myself to sweat and aches and cramps and exhaustion? Why else do I make my legs move in ways they really don’t want to move and But I still, somehow, feel the need to qualify myself with air quotes. Or with descriptors. I research and implement training programs and mix my distances with speed work and hills to keep getting faster, but I still find myself saying things like “I just ran x miles, but I’m slow” or “but I do intervals” or any of a million “buts” that really shouldn’t matter.

I buy the right gear, hydrate well and practice appropriate fueling. I can troubleshoot aches and pains and discuss good form with my friends, my husband and on social media. I am even attending a good form clinic to help improve my own. But I just don’t see how I’m remotely qualified to do that in small groups when, at 6.5 miles, I’m weeping in front of a port-a-potty with my brain chanting “not good enough.”

In my heart, I know comparing myself to others is ridiculous and counterproductive. I work very hard to focus on me and my numbers and training, and not what everyone else is doing. It gets difficult sometimes, because I can be competitive and I like feeling a part of things. I want to go out on long training runs and not be intimidated by the pace or the amazing athletes. I want to feel comfortable in my own running bubble, instead of worrying about what others on the road might think of my plodding stride. I need to remember that my focus is not smashing world records, but being healthy and having fun and staying fit.

After a few minutes, I got up. I drank some water and adjusted my laces. I wiped my tears and started up my Garmin again.

And then I ran the remaining 5.5 miles for a grand total of 12. The longest distance I’ve ever run at one time. One-point-one miles shy of the distance I will need on December 1.

I’m not sure what came over me or why I even worry about things like that. In some ways, I wonder if I should go back to running with music to keep my brain busy and distracted from throwing such negative thoughts at myself. I remind myself, for the millionth time, that the bad times are there to help us appreciate the good that much more.

I took Monday off. I think I needed a break from training and from myself. Today, my goal is to go out and just run for a bit. No set distance or time. It will be a run “just because.” It will be to remind myself why I’m doing this and that no matter what, it’s just something for me.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be a great runner. Then again, I’m not even sure if it matters. I still have races and runs and miles and years to go. Bad days are bound to happen, but I am not going to let myself get derailed by them if I can help it.

Have you ever had a good cry on a run?

When you get down about your training, what do you tell yourself to keep on going?

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50 Responses to the one where i have an emotional breakdown

  1. I had I bout of tears similar to this one time. I was running without my training partner at a park. I peed before I started to run the loop around the lake. My first run with my water belt…. Drank too much water, had to pee, nowhere to go and 2 miles away from the restroom. Couldn’t run anymore and somehow that mentally destroyed me. I fought tears the whole speedwalk back to the bathroom and broke loose the minute I was out of sight. It was silly, but I couldn’t help it. Sometimes this happens and its ok. You are a great runner and don’t need to compare yourself to anyone. All it takes to be a runner, is to decided that you are one. 🙂 You are great. Keep it up!
    Meg @ Meg-in-Training recently posted…16 Months?!My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Oh, gosh. I would have lost my mind if I had to go to the bathroom and didn’t have one in sight. I think I plan my training runs with easy access to a public restroom, my house, or someone I know who would let me in to use the bathroom.

      I hate that this happens. Running can be hard enough but to deal with the demons on top of it seems so unfair.

  2. I LOVE, not like, not think its great, LOVE this post. You are rocking your training, and you are a Runner.

    I’ve gone through these same feeling and thoughts no less than a million times. And I’m not sure that’s exaggerating. If you believe it, you are it. One thing that keeps me going is seeing (or reading) the women and men I think of as kick butt runners tweet and post about bad runs. Everyone has them, no matter how fast or slow 🙂

    I feel like I get emotional during at least one run a week. Many times I just get the urge to burst into tears because I can’t believe how far I’ve come, others it’s because it feels terrible that day. That’s how you know it matters 😉
    Cyanne (RunStretchGo) recently posted…November Goals: Giving Thanks and Getting StrengthMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Thank you, Cyanne. This one was hard to write.

      I do have to remind myself to look at how far I’ve come, but it’s hard when I think about how far I still have to go. I’m usually so positive, so when things like this get in my head, it takes a lot to come back from it.

      I know this is normal and I’m not alone, but it really puts such a damper on something that should be so awesome.

  3. I love this post! I hate how you got upset but love how you overcame it!!! So awesome – such an example to others when we’re having an off day!!!
    Kristen @ The Smith Summary recently posted…A Minnie CelebrationMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I don’t know much of an example I was. I just couldn’t stand the thought of coming home in failure. And thank goodness to this blog for keeping me accountable, because I didn’t know how I was going to admit to bailing either.

      I hate that I got so upset too 🙁

  4. I’ve never cried on a run – but I have, after (usually in the shower, if I didn’t adequately prepare myself against chafing). But, I’ve puked on several runs — usually when I haven’t eaten right beforehand and gone out too hard.

    lately, I’ve been having a lot of trouble keeping myself consistently running — I work out, but I just haven’t spent much time on the road. I tell myself that it’s because I have other stuff & if I can just stay “active” it’ll all work out, but I fear that I’m, mostly, making excuses. Though, when push comes to shove, running in Vibrams when it’s literally freezing outside makes for a really good excuse.

    Running further than you’ve ever run before is nothing to scoff at – even if you had to kick your own ass along the way.
    John (Daddy Runs a Lot) recently posted…Where I dust off the blogging cobwebs with bullet pointsMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Oh, I’ve puked too. One from not eating right before, the other from sheer emotions. It was crazy.

      I wouldn’t run in Vibrams when it’s freezing. Or anything else. That’s just too cold for this Floridian. Your excuse is completely valid to me. But I understand what you’re saying, and I feel myself get in those ruts, too, from time to time.

      I guess I just wish some of this came more easily for me. I feel like I have to fight so hard for every step and no matter how much *I* want to keep going, my body doesn’t always share my determination. It’s frustrating and upsetting, and while I know nothing good ever comes easy, it might be nice if every so often, a long run was a wee tiny bit easier.

      And yes. I am a pro at kicking my own ass. 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I got really upset, to the point of throwing myself a pity party, and started crying like a baby, but it was because I had this radiating pain from hip all the way down my outer leg to my foot. I was crying because it hurt, I was crying because I was angry and mad at myself. I was training wayyyyyy too much for the Marine Corps Marathon, and had gone and done some stupid things during that training (too many races where I really let myself push, when I had no business doing this during training time). So yeah, I’ve lost it before on a run.

    I think that the fact that you work so hard at running makes you a great runner. You don’t have to qualify it beyond that. You. Are. A. Great. Runner. End of story! 🙂
    Elizabeth recently posted…Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate ChipsMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Thank you. <3

      Sometimes, I just wonder what's the point. I am working pretty darn hard and sometimes I feel more like I'm spinning my wheels than making progress. And then I have to remind myself to be patient and that Rome wasn't built in a day and all those annoying platitudes. Sometimes it works, sometimes, I (obviously) end in tears.

      Training is such a fine balance. Undertrain and risk getting hurt. Overtrain and risk getting hurt. Push too hard and you may do damage, but if you don't push enough, you don't want it that badly. So many if, ands or buts.

      I hope you are feeling better. 🙂

  6. Alyssa says:

    I love this! We’ve all had our crying runs…I hope?! I was on the verge this weekend but somehow averted it. I’ve had lots of those off-runs lately, and I think I need to give my body a break to reset and heal so I can have a successful 2014 racing season. 2013 has been a bust. When you asked about crying, I immediately flashed back to this story: My biggest cry-run was on vacation when I actually got lost and stuck out in the middle of a golf course! I ended up adding 3 miles to my run while in the smoldering heat and spun so far out of control that I was sobbing down the street running back and forth! Keep your phone with you on vacation is the lesson learned. Thanks for the great post!
    Alyssa recently posted…Slow Down SeasonMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      It does seem like we all have had the crying runs.

      Oh, that sounds awful! I absolutely always take my phone with me wherever I go. I feel so much more safe with it. And clearly, it has directional purposes as well!

      I hope 2014 is amazing for you! <3

  7. Darlene says:

    Love your honesty. What is a “great” runner? Great doesn’t have to mean “fast.” Anyone who finishes a race is a great runner. YOU ARE GREAT!
    Darlene recently posted…Running UpdateMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      <3 Thank you for always being so supportive. I don't think it's about fast or slow. It just feels like I struggle so hard to make my distances. I'm doing pretty much all the right things, but my body doesn't just naturally turn to running. Which is frustrating and I think that's what makes me feel so badly about myself sometimes. I see people springing along like gazelles, and then there's me, looking like an extra from some bad zombie movie (minus the decomposition and lust for human brains). I hope that my form clinic will help me with some confidence, and aside from that, the rest will have to come with experience.

  8. Kathy Bruinooge says:

    I commend you for this post in particular… I haven’t pushed myself to that point but I think I’m getting there…. You must have been empowered when you got home!!! We are our own worst enemies!!!! Hold you head up high and be proud…. Just think where you were this time last year…. Congrats!!!!

    • runswithpugs says:

      You’re right. One year ago, I wasn’t running at all. And now, 12 miles.

      I wish I could say that I felt empowered, but I felt kind of sore and defeated (and hungry, if we’re being 100% honest). It was a crappy feeling, especially because of how far I’d gone.

      I’ll be better about it. I will. I have too many goals and commitments to let it get me down.
      runswithpugs recently posted…the one where i have an emotional breakdownMy Profile

  9. <3 Sometimes even the "toughest" people need a break! It's hard to carry all that stress on yourself CONSTANTLY! Proud of you for finishing 🙂 I have only cried during a run due to personal issues, not due to the run itself, but I have been frustrated and wanted to cry. I just took 5 days off from running because I'm not training for anything and my little leggies were KILLING me, but I think those 5 days off were great for my mental health as well because now I feel refreshed.
    Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom recently posted…Goals Check-In: November RecapMy Profile

  10. Jessie says:

    We all go through our rough patches! When I feel down about a run or about my progress, I like to look back at my journal or my runkeeper. There’s something about seeing those numbers in black & white that really make me focus and realize that I’ve made progress & I’l keep making progress. And, so will you! xo
    Jessie recently posted…Let’s Stop Comparing.My Profile

  11. Everyone has some hard runs sometimes. I had an awful one early in my training where I just couldn’t finish a six mile run. My legs felt like lead and I let it freak me out for months. It sounds like you put a lot of pressure on yourself (I do the same thing) but you should be so proud that you pushed through your anxiety and fear and busted right past that 11 mile barrier! Way to go!!
    April Shuping recently posted…Daily Gratitude – Day 5My Profile

  12. But? But What?
    BUT you ran 12 miles. That is friggin amazing, and that is all that matters. You did it, you and no one else! Get it girl!
    Anne @ recently posted…Spreading the HappyMy Profile

  13. Brittany says:

    You have come so far! I still am in a bit of shock of the persistence you have shown from a few years ago saying you realized you would never be a runner but just a fast walker. And now I would definitely say you are a runner and a good one at that! Hard days come to everyone that is not a robot. I’m still trying to find the right pep talk to get me out of my mental games. Sometimes you just have to let it out and then keep going like you did. Kudos! I have also had times that I could not get myself to keep going and I feel that is okay. I’ll pick back up when I’m ready. Setting goals is a good thing but make sure you recognize all the ones you have already reached. On a strange side note, remember humans are the only animals that produce tears when crying and to me that makes it a powerful emotion and one to embrace as you grow to be the runner you want to be.

  14. Lyndsey says:

    The fact that after only nine months of running you can run 12 miles absolutely blows my mind!

    I’m a pretty bad asthmatic and just never thought I’d be able to run, but your unbelivable progress just gives me so much hope and encouragement that maybe could run a little, I could at least try. But boy I’d be happy with just a couple of miles, even one. Twelve is ridiculously far!

    So I think I will get throught this Scottish winter and then try to start running in the spring using the coach to 5k like you did, becuase I have so enjoyed and been encouraged from your stories.

    Keep up the good work!

    • runswithpugs says:

      First, I am incredibly jealous of your Scottish winter. I’ve always wanted to go! Stay warm, though!

      I am also so touched and flattered. I look at myself and don’t really feel like I’ve done anything impressive, but then I read something like this and I am so happy that I have been able to give you encouragement. Let me know when you start! I want to cheer you along your journey!

  15. Since I always run alone I am constantly having to give myself a pep talk about the rest of my run.
    I typically don’t run with my phone on me (I really should though), so I never reach out for help really. I always have a really tough time with the first 3 miles, then I typically coast through the next 5-7, then the last few are rough. It is a pattern…at least I know it’s coming though!
    Amanda @ There Are 2 Sides recently posted…Diet-to-Go Giveaway – Win a Free Week of Meals!My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Why are those first 3 miles such jerks??? I hate them so much.

      I don’t usually reach out but I wanted Mr PugRunner to know where I was at in case they needed to leave without me. I’m kind of glad he gave me the tough love so I could continue.

  16. Taylor says:

    You are a TRULY GREAT runner! It takes incredible mental and physical strength to keep going when you’re having a tough run. Your story is what many use as inspiration and motivation to KEEP GOING!

    I think a lot of us have been there 🙂 That 13.1 finish is going to be SO worth it! Keep it up 🙂

  17. DragonLady says:

    I’ve had runs where I broke down sobbing and I just can’t breath and cry and run all at the same time.

    And I have to say AMEN to Amanda @ There Are 2 Sides about those first 3 miles. Which is really bad when you’re only running a 5k. 😉
    DragonLady recently posted…Maniacal Monday #22My Profile

  18. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing such an honest post about your feelings during your run this weekend.

    It has taken me a LONG time to compare myself only to myself. Having said that, I have learned that I cannot run long by myself. Actually, I can barely run short by myself. The negative voices in my head are really loud. I need someone out there with me to keep me going and to stay positive. In my mind, it is HUGE that you were able to run those 12 by yourself.

    GOOD JOB!!!

  19. Way to push through and finish up the rest of the run. There are two types of runners: those who’ve had a breakdown and those who will :-). A breakdown is a sign that you were willing to push yourself and test your limits. Look at this as a good thing!

    I had a terrible breakdown during one of my training rides. So bad, that I called my hubby sobbing and didn’t stop crying the full 15 minutes it took for him to come and get me.

    Keep it up, you are doing an awesome job!
    Wornout Soles recently posted…2014 DreamingMy Profile

  20. jan says:

    I haven’t ever had a good cry on a run, but I don’t think it sounds like a horrible idea. I always feel better after a good cry!

    Sorry you had a bit of a breakdown, but I think it’s awesome that you were able to work through it and come out on top. That had to do loads for your confidence!
    jan recently posted…A Great Reading/Writing Teaching Resource: ReadworksMy Profile

  21. Diana says:

    NINE months, you’ve been running. NINE. MONTHS. And you’ve already done all kinds of races and are training for a half marathon! Are you kidding me? You are awesome! No more air quotes or qualifiers, missy! You Are A Runner, you get me? Also. I’ve been running for twice as long as you and I’m slower than you are. If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to me – it’ll make you feel better! LOL 😉
    Diana recently posted…New Day DawningMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      It’s not every day I get called “missy” and it makes me smile. For what it’s worth, I’m feeling a lot better. I had a really great seven miler on Friday and it really gave me a big boost. I guess I just have to keep getting out there and keep going. Thanks for the pep talk. And the tough love. <3

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  23. Sorry you had a rough time in the middle of your 12-mile run, but look at it this way, you didn’t quit. Use that to make you stronger! Maybe you were just exhausted (both mentally and physically), whatever it was, use it as a learning experience and know that you can do it. Like you said, “And then I ran the remaining 5.5 miles for a grand total of 12. The longest distance I’ve ever run at one time. One-point-one miles shy of the distance I will need on December 1.” You’ve got this!
    Debbie @ DebRuns recently posted…Chilly Cruiser RunMy Profile

  24. Just by running YOU ARE A RUNNER. 1 mile, 5 miles, 26.2 miles – it doesn’t matter, you are making it happen. I think we all have our moments of doubt, but I promise you, thats all it is – an irrational feeling that I think especially up women tend to get when we overthink things. The one thing I can definitely vouch for is sometimes you need a break. When training its hard to take time, but don’t feel bad taking a day here or there to mentally recover, which is just as important as physical recovery. After your race you might want to take a few weeks or even a month off…its okay! That thing that drew you to running will creep back in and you’ll find yourself itching to get out there again, and that’s when you remember why you love it 🙂

  25. I’ve never cried on a run, but I did come close to puking and/or passing out once. My friends invited me to run 6 miles before my first 1/2 marathon (last year) and I had never run more than probably 3.5 miles at that point. It was hot, it was late afternoon in July and the trail we were on was in full sun.

    Oh, and they run about a 9-10 minute mile pace, and I was more like 13 at that point. And trying to keep up. Silly me.

    As for what I tell myself about my training — well, I just tell myself that I did my best (if I did) or that I will next time. I’ve certainly had my moments for both. Just hang in there, and know that you are a runner. Just say “I run, therefore I am.”
    Brienna Nesting recently posted…Suitcase of Stars by Baccalario PierdomenicoMy Profile

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