On Quitting

By Carissa

I had a nice big slice of humble pie for breakfast this morning.  It didn’t taste so good.  This pie was served up on my treadmill where I had set out to run the following:

1 mile @ 8 min/mile
9 miles @ 7 min/mile
2 miles @ 8 min/mile

Last night I spent some time debating the pros and cons of when and where I should do this workout.  Running a seven minute mile feels much easier outside but I needed to get started an hour before it gets light and I favored the comforts of the treadmill over the local school track that I would need to lap 6 times for a mile. (Don’t even get me started on the impossiblity of running a pace run on the crazy hilly neighborhood I live in.)

I woke up at 5am a little reluctant to leave the coziness of my bed but determined to tackle this run.  It would be the third benchmark on the road to a half marathon I am training for next month.  My training schedule suggested a 15K (9.3 miles) race for this week but since I wasn’t going to be racing I felt that a training run of nine miles at pace would be a good substitute.  What I didn’t do was take two days of rest going into the workout as was suggested on the schedule.

My head was perhaps laughably filled with optimism.  I was going to run 12 miles on the treadmill.  Maybe I would even do it without music.  I was going to run strong.  I was going to put my physical and mental strength to the test.  I knew it would be hard but I really didn’t think it would be that hard.  I see now there was folly in my thinking.  

I did my warmup and adjusted the treadmill to 8.6.  By mile one it was already feeling hard.  I’ve run this pace enough to know that I should be able to run several miles with it feeling comfortably hard.  Not so today.  I had a few crutches within my reach if I needed them: my music and a Gu.  I hadn’t had breakfast before I got started so I figured I might need a Gu at some point during the twelve miles.  I certainly didn’t think I would need it so soon.  With two pace miles under my belt I was firing up my music and downing my Gu.  I needed something to get me through this workout!  It didn’t work.  My legs were still putting up a fight and my mind was relenting.  
In case I needed a little help along the way

Two and a half miles into the pace workout and I surrendered to the fight, hitting pause on the treadmill.  I stepped off, wiped the sweat from my face and assessed the situation.  Very infrequently do I come short of what I set out to accomplish in a workout. What was the problem with this workout?  My legs were complaining but I knew I wanted to practice staying strong mentally.  I could run through this.  I just didn’t want it to be this hard.  Okay, so the mental part was a lot harder than I was expecting it to be.  What choice was I going to make in response?  The brief break renewed my resolve and I stepped back on the treadmill.  I was again determined to see the workout through.
Even though I was quitting I first hit pause instead of stop

My resolve lasted only a mile.  Six miles is a long way to go when the first three have been bad.  Once again my finger went for the pause button and I was off the treadmill trying to figure out what to do.  And once again stopping gave me just enough physical reprieve to fight the doubts in my head.  Back at it again the treadmill hit the fourth pace mile and I told myself 35 more minutes.  I can do this for 35 more minutes.  But then I noticed I had been running for only 33.  Could I handle twice the misery?  I gave it a go but .39 miles in I surrendered.  I. was. done.  
I finally hit stop.  No more talking myself back into this run.

I stepped off the treadmill and immediately fell prostrate to the floor.  I gave the struggle of the run to the Lord.  I gave Him the smallness of being weak and saying I can’t.  The disappointment of failing to persevere to the end.  I quit my run and yet I feel completely at peace about it because I know what I can do:
I can run fast.
I can persevere.
I can overcome the mental battle.
I don’t do this on my own.  The Lord strengthens me and He is my hope for a better day whether it is a better run or another one of life’s challenges.
Not a normal position I assume pre or post run but mentally
the Lord is with me and He is my strength and my joy.

I believe that part of what attracts us runners to the sport is the challenge of it.  I’ve never heard a runner say that they too haven’t had bad runs.  It’s the bad runs that help us appreciate the good ones.  I’m going to give myself a day of rest and try this workout again.  Unfortunately, I’ll be running at elevation so it might be yet another humbling experience but that’s okay.  I know who I am as a runner and who I am in the Lord and I won’t let a failure among successes define me.

Here are a few verses that were on my mind this morning:
Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up. 
James 4:10
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 
Proverbs 16:18
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

How about you Sole Sisters?  How do you respond to a failed workout?


  1. I remember a few 'failed' workouts - not keeping the pace I wanted, feeling too weak to continue, feeling like I needed to walk or stop... Normally, I can tell when its just a mental thing, when I need to push through. But I think there are a few times when you just shouldn't push too hard and your body tells you. Its hard to get through, mentally, but I think its just as good to step back and learn WHY you need to stop, and WHAT it feels like so that we can keep ourselves healthy in the long-run.

    1. Such a good point Devon. I was definitely clued in to there being a physical aspect to what was going wrong with that run. Historically this is the point in my training cycle when I would tend to run into a failed workout since I've been working hard for weeks on end and the workouts are reaching their pinnacle. Hoping these legs are ready to rock my race in a couple of weeks! :)

  2. I can SO relate to so much in this post. Been there. Sometimes I've been able to fight my way through and finish. Other times I've had to pause the treadmill, regroup and I've managed to finish. Then, sadly there have been times when the workout was a COMPLETE FAILURE. For whatever reason I just couldn't finish. Usually lack of sleep plays a big role in my workout blunders.

    I think your immediate response was what kept your attitude in check. I struggle with this sometimes. I LOVE that verse in Joshua. That needs to be my theme verse this week whenever I gt nervous about my upcoming HM. Thanks for sharing these verses!

    1. Be strong and courageous was my mantra for my last marathon. :) I can't wait for you to race your upcoming half. I'm still so excited for you about your "practice" race on the track. :)

  3. Those are wonderful verses to keep in mind and heart whether running or just going about our daily lives. I like the idea of "humbling ourselves" in his presence. This requires a choice to step down and admit that He is in control. I have many many failures. It is hard to be in that spot, but sure does make the victories sweeter! And how these situations DO help us to see who is really the one who plans all things.

    I am pretty sure you did this workout again, so how did it go? Hope the rest helped!

    1. Thank you Raina for your wise words.

      I did take a day to rest. On the second day I woke up with an overly tight glute. I contemplated resting again but decided to do a long run instead. We were in Sunriver and I found two hours in solitude running the bike paths very relaxing. So the run never happened. Jodi, on the other hand, had a great mock 15k. :)

  4. Tough runs are what make us! One of my go to mantras for tough runs and races is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - it was also one of the first verses I taught my kids. I know this is an old post, but was just scrolling down and reading - so I also want to say, congrats on the half!!! You rocked it:)

    1. Thanks Katie. I really need to repeat/remind myself of that verse more.

  5. i really appreciated this post. Thank you.