The story of two Tempo Runs

A 9k tempo run. At my threshold pace. Stress. I was only counting negatives.

That I’ve not run so fast all season.
That it wasn’t raining.
Warm up done. I picked up pace. I held it for a while, but when the heat got to me and I faltered. Rahul, being stronger and faster carried on. Now my only goal was to keep him in sight. Further down the road, Malay decided to join me. And there we were. Trotting along. Barely managing to hold pace. And then we turned around for the second half. Around 6.5 km I stopped.

For no reason.

No pain.

Not even out of breath.

Malay stopped too, with me.

Wondering if all was ok with me. Also wondering why did I stop. when he asked me I had no answer. I only managed to mumble – sometimes my brain gets the better of me. After gathering my wits/ thoughts/ will power, we started again. I had about 2.5 km to finish and 500m into the run I felt I got a stitch. Then my entire stomach seemed to be tied in a knot. I could barely breathe. But I continued running. It was an ordeal. I was ignoring the pain and going on. And all this happened within a kilometre. Suddenly, I saw the light. I couldn’t breathe because I wasn’t breathing. And that was root cause of all my difficulty.
So deep breaths!
Within 10 strides the knot dissolved.
And it got easier.
I found my rhythm.
With 100 m to go I sprinted to the finish and I brought the average pace down to a respectable figure. Not my target pace, but close enough.
Not bad!


I spoke to Savio post run. As usual he has the same words for me. Only if you relax and run can you run fast. Keep your shoulders loose and breathe. And there I was….Tightening up due to stress. From my brain down…arms shoulders stomach… All in tension. Constricted.
These words we hear all the time- but only when we experience it do we understand.

Life lesson.

And I put it into good use- when I left my wallet behind in a cab. When despite calling the driver, I had to catch a cab back from the airport as his cell phone was unreachable. When something was wrong with an order of furniture at work for a site, and I could only find the solution 3 days later. After a few minutes of panic. Deep breaths. What can I do. Relax and let it happen. Because that’s the only way it will.IMG_9644

Epilogue- The above run happened 2 weeks ago. And I have written it for myself today (Friday- 2nd October) as I had an absolutely disastrous tempo this morning. Yes I will blame the weather. And my hectic work schedule. But the point is…

When it got tough I gave up.

No talk. No discussion.

It was a bad day. I’m going to put it behind me. Everyone has bad days. They just don’t talk about them.

This is what I learnt from it…

1. Learn to appreciate your bad runs: We all hope that the stars will align on race day and we’ll have the perfect race that we’ve been training for. It is, however, possible (god forbid!) that you will encounter some problem or another during your race, whether it be excessive heat or cold, a stomachache, or anything else that might impede your performance. Or when you simply need to dig deep for the last push- when everything has given up. This is where your bad runs of the past will become your best friend. Learn to love them and fight through them, because, chances are they’ll help you push through a tough race in the future!

2. Learn to appreciate your good runs: Don’t take your good runs for granted. We are all training hard to earn them. If you have a bad run, make sure you keep in mind all of the good runs you’ve experienced in order to keep yourself from getting discouraged.(In writing this I’m only telling myself this!)

3. Track your bad runs to identify possible triggers: Note any specifics of the bad run including changes in your routine (e.g., hillier route, new shoes, weather, health, rest) to see if you can identify a pattern or possible causes later on. For example, maybe all of your bad runs happen the same day every week after you’ve stayed up late the night before for work/movie/Social event!!

The vultures are the voices in your head!!

4. Know that it’s OK to stop: Sometimes, you just have to pack it in and turn around early. If you are totally miserable or feel like you might be close to injuring yourself (or already hurting), there’s no shame in not doing as long of a run as you intended. I know I’d rather miss out on the last 20 minutes of my run rather than spend the next month not running at all because of an injury. Take solace in the fact that you still got out there and know that one run is not going to make or break your running career. Remember, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch!

5. Run again tomorrow: After a particularly bad run, it can be tempting to curl up in a ball on the couch and refuse to move for a few days. I mean, obviously, one bad run must mean that you now suck at running forever, right? Wrong! Get yourself out there the next day or soon enough t you will feel 100% better and, in the process, realize that your bad run was simply a fluke. That is, unless your bad run is the result of overtraining, in which case, please enjoy a much-needed rest day. I took the Saturday off, as I was sleep deprived due to work!

 I ran an easy breezy 21k on Sunday, after the Disastrous Friday!



8 thoughts on “The story of two Tempo Runs

  • In my (admittedly, limited) experience, I think we NEED bad runs. And bad races. Not too often, mind you…

    Evolution is a response to adversity. Stagnation is a response to comfort.

    A performance-oriented runner should see a bad run as a harbinger of growth. It means that your efforts are hovering at the limits of your abilities. Which is where the efforts need to be if the limits are to be pushed.

    Epic blog, Parul. And as promised, I bought your book 🙂

    • Thank you for this enlightening comment! You have put it beautifully. Much to learn from you. Your wisdom makes me happy. I am evolving. 🙂 thank you for buying the book! Do let me know what you think of it!

  • Dear Parul

    Thanks for another brilliant blog.

    You always succeed in conveying a deep and meaningful message through your running experiences . I not only enjoy the first read but I come back again and again . And with each visit , I discover a new meaning and find a new connection with life ! With my life at least .

    Maybe I am reading too much into the words . Maybe the sorrow of my illness finds love where none is hidden . But I don’t care because I find immense hope and strength in every blog that you write. That’s all that matters to me.

    Maybe your blogs are born in your mind but they live in my heart.

    Thanks for being such a brilliant human being and such a gifted writer.

    • Thank you Ravi! At so many levels running is about life… Like Oprah said – running is a metaphor for life! What you give is what you get!

  • Nice , Infact very very nice , like ur running , u seem to have developed a decepitive writing style, making ur hard runs easy and tough motivating thoughts easy.

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