I had gone to the RiverCities Triathlon that year with GINGER TURNER and CHRIS GUNDERSON. But I was scheduled to do a long run. Chris and Ginger were also supposed to do a long run in preparation for the upcoming Canadian Ironman Triathlon.
So we did what we were “supposed” to do after we did what we wanted to do. (Can’t you just hear Chuck Hobbs going off on us?) Granted, this was years ago when we were all much younger and the grey hairs of wisdom hadn’t taken root yet. After the 800 meter swim, after the 18.2 mile bike, and after the 5K run, we began our 20 mile training run.
Since there were three of us, the time went by rather nicely, as I remember, once I was able to get mentally past having just done a race, knowing that the brain tends to block out uncomfortable feelings such as pain. We stopped at gas stations to get water, as I recall.
We got back to the awards banquet in time to hear each of our names called out for a trophy. Ironman legend DAVE SCOTT was handing out the awards. By the time I went up to shake his hand (reference the picture used in this column in the November 2005 issue) and receive some hardware, word had circulated about where we had been. When Scott shook my hand, he pulled me toward him and softly asked if I had, in fact, run 20 miles after the race. Yes, I replied. “Then you’re not racing hard enough,” he said as a flash camera clicked.
I don’t see Gunderson at all anymore. He moved to Austin to work for Run Tex and coach high school. But I saw Ginger the day before the August 6 Shreveport triathlon (Ginger took 4th in her age group this year, her 14th time at the RiverCities Triathlon.) and reminded her of that run we did many years ago. “That,” she said excitedly, “was my ‘hurt run.’”
Uh? Hurt run?
The Hurt Run. What an excellent term to describe that training run you peak for that tells you you’re ready for your goal race. The Hurt Run.
Yes, yes, yes, now I remember, going back through my big races, that one run, that, well, hurt. I thought it was going to kill me in some cases, but THE ONE that pulled me to the next level. Maybe it was hot. Maybe it was long. Maybe it was intense as in doing so many hill repeats you lost count. (I once did 27 Flag Pole hill repeats!) Or maybe it’s doing that final last killer track workout three weeks before that made you throw up, but also gave you the confidence to know “you are ready.” The Hurt Run.
It’s that workout that maybe puts you over your biggest hurdle: distance, terrain, weather conditions, strength, or pure, raw speed. The run requiring, no, DEMANDING of you more than you thought you had or were ready, willing to give. But once you paid its price, it paid you back in dividends you never imagined. It made you sure of yourself, gave you strength physically and psychologically, or helped you find gears you didn’t know existed.
“It just popped into my head,” Ginger said later of coining the phrase. “But I have thought about that run often, in training and when I think about my performance at Ironman Canada that year.” Her 11:59:56 finish that year is still her PR. “Gunderson had mentioned after the run, when we were waiting for awards, about it probably being the best single training session for Canada because you’re going out to train in an already depleted state, as in our case, a sprint race where you’re going all out. Painful, and very much similar to what you’re going to feel in the run at Ironman.” Ah, the Hurt Run.
“It let me know what to expect in Canada, and I believe it helped psychologically.”
This doesn’t apply just to running. It also applies to swimming where you peak for that killer workout, and survive. (DAM swim coach LIANA MCSTRAVICK remembers doing 100 x 100 meters on a minute, 10 seconds interval.) It also takes place in cycling, I believe, where during your build up, you suddenly find you’re hanging on a tough ride without getting dropped.
Whether it’s swimming, biking, or running, the workout session instills a confidence that carries you through your goal race. The workout becomes an experience you can “pull up” during the race to motivate and inspire your body through the valleys of fatigue and self-doubt.
A funny thing about The Hurt Run, however, is you don’t always know it is THE one until after it is over. Sometimes, not until the race you were shooting for, do you find it was the one workout that got you there. And then you just smile that you did it.