Most Important Running Virtue

I disconnected myself from all forms of social media last week.  My husband, son, and I flew to Portland last Wednesday.  We had a family wedding to attend and decided to make it an extended trip to spend time with my husband’s immediate family who we don’t get to see much of due to proximity.  My mother/father-in law and one of my husband’s brothers (and his family) all live in Alaska while his oldest brother (and his family) live in Portland.  We are lucky if we get to see them once or twice a year.  So we jumped on the idea of being ALL together for an extended period of time.  Flying across the country at 32 weeks pregnant was NOT the easiest thing in the world (will post about our flight experiences later this week) but it was definitely worth it!


During an appointment before our trip out west, my chiropractor said something to me that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.  I was updating him on the previous weekend: I woke up with very little pain and so rather than continue resting and icing (per doctor’s orders), I vacuumed and moped the entire 2nd floor of our house.  Not smart.  And as a result, the following day was one of the most painful ones so far.

He told me that I needed to just have patience.  He repeated it over and over to me throughout my entire appointment that day.

Patience.  A virtue that has eluded me throughout my life.  I am NOT a patient person by any stretch of the imagination (which is why it’s SO strange that I am actually quite patient and okay with waiting to find out the sex of the baby!!).

I’ve gotten exponentially better since leaving the army and after giving birth to my son, but I’m still a very, very impatient person with most things in life.  I don’t like waiting…I want things/results/updates NOW.

Patience is SO important – and not just for everyday things…it’s extremely important in regards to running:

  • Patience to build mileage. One of the biggest reasons why beginning runners (or anyone looking to jump to the next racing distance) become injured is that there is the expectation that you can go from 0 to 60 in no time.  To prevent this, I almost always follow the 10% total mileage rule and ~2 mile long run rule. That is, I increase my weekly mileage by 10% or less while ensuring that my long runs jump by no more than ~2 miles each week.
  • Patience to improve and see results.  I first was introduced to track / speed workouts five years ago when I was training for the Army Ten Miler on the Fort Hood Team.  Each Tuesday we headed to the track for our daily workout.  The first 3-4 weeks were extremely tough – I had never done these types of workouts before and was getting frustrated that my times were not improving.  Then, after a month of hard workouts, my splits started dropping – and not just by a second or two – they were dropping by substantial blocks.  Over the next few months I saw my mile repeat times drop from around a 7 min mile to 6:10.  The biggest sign of the improvement was when I took the bi-annual APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test).  My 2-mile time dropped from close to 14 minutes to 12:40!
  • Patience in a race. I struggle with this frequently.  You show up to a race, your well-rested legs, pre-race jitters, and the excitement of the crowd cause you to go out too fast.  There is no such thing as building a time cushion for the end of the race.  If you go out too fast, you will pay for it later in the race. I’ve discussed my lack of patience during races in several posts.
  • Patience when you have an injury. This is what I am currently dealing with.  The temptation is to immediately start running the moment your body shows signs of recovery or improvement.  I’m still not running – although I am itching to head out to see how I feel. I am really trying hard to be as patient and smart about this as I can and will not attempt a run until my chiropractor gives me the okay.  Yesterday was the first day where I honestly forgot at times about the back pain.  It came and went – but even when the pain was there, it wasn’t the excruciating, shooting pain that it had been.  And I am no longer limping (for the most part) as of about 2 days ago!! I’m extremely hopeful that I will get back to running either sometime at the end of this week or at the start of next week.
  • Patience after an injury.  You were running x miles at an x:xx pace before you got injured.  You were forced to take 4-6 weeks off from running.  The inclination is to immediately jump back into the pace and mileage that you were at prior to your injury.  While it won’t take you 4-6 weeks to return to your previous running state, it will take some time to build back up to where you are.

What other areas of running do you need patience?

What do you have a hard time being patient with? 

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    19 thoughts on “Most Important Running Virtue

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    3. I loved reading this post. It is so true and such an important reminder. I took a day off from my training today, even though I had a major workout on tap. I was trying to listen to my body and be PATIENT. It is not easy but in the end it pays off. Thanks for your insights!

    4. Michele – I love your posts. All of this rings so true for me too. Patience is definitely not my virtue :-) I’m still struggling with patience and my knee. I got to run 3 min on the treadmill at like 4.5. I just wanted to keep going but it also made me realize what a long road back it’s going to be. Trying to take it a day at a time but it’s hard for sure.

      I’m really glad to hear that you are feeling a bit better and that you got to spend some time with family on your trip. AJ is SO cute in those pictures!
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: I almost forgot!My Profile

    5. Oh wow! I have more or less the same issue right now, and I too am seeing a chiropractor (which, for some reason, I always want to spell chriopractor). It’s my back that has made my hips de-align, and it is finally getting better. I’m currently focusing on weight training to help take my mind off the “OMG I just want to RUN” feelings. Let’s be patient together!! We can do this :)
      Ruby @ Focus, Woman! recently posted..Healthy Family Dinners: Chickpea & Broccoli CurryMy Profile

    6. I love this post and good for you on disconnecting for a while! :-) Everything you wrote about running and having patience rings so true for me. Anytime I veer of course from the 10% rule, I end up with aches and sometimes pains. When I stick to solid training plans that keep it smart, I do much better. I need to get better at doing speed work. I don’t have easy access to a track but I do own a treadmill and just *need to make it happen*. Glad to see you are keeping it positive during the injury time!
      Christina recently posted..Friends with health and fitness excusesMy Profile

    7. I hope you get back to running, but if not, enjoy the pregnancy as much as you can. My last one was difficult with rough nausea the whole way through. But I was able to get on the treadmill even if it was slow close to the last week. And I miss having a little one in my belly as that was the last. But lots of good memories to look back on too. So enjoy as much as possible and running will return before you know it.
      Andrea recently posted..What is Your Premier Running Distance and Why You Need to Know.My Profile

    8. Wow, such great insight and I completely agree with all of these running patience rules of thumb. Patience is also SO HARD for me (seriously, I think patience is easy for 1% of the population – lol), but especially in running, I get so easily frustrated when I have a bad run or a string of them or my breathing sucks or I start comparing. But then as soon as I reset myself and shift my focus a bit, it helps. But it is a one day at a time thing for me most of the time. GREAT post!
      jobo recently posted..Challenges anew.My Profile

    9. First off, I’m so glad to hear you are getting some relief! I have been thinking about you and worrying that it was worse since you hadn’t posted.

      And then can I say that I always love your posts? I think we look at running in very similar terms. I too am impatient and running is one of those places where you have to learn patience. I follow the 10%/2-mile rule as well and it seems to pay off. I’d add that new runners really need to consider race distances as well–have patience to work your way up the distance ladder. You don’t have to do a marathon your first year of running!
      misszippy1 recently posted..MellowingMy Profile

    10. Great post. Patience is something I struggle with as well. I had a couple of injuries that sidelined me for 6 weeks from running. And it was humbling trying to start running again. I had no choice but to be patient b/c I physically had no other choice basically.

    11. YES. Patience is so hard for me too — not just with running but in other areas of my life too. I have to give my husband a TON of credit for helping me to learn patience and over time have gotten better at settling down in that area, but I’m still not great at it. It’s a constant struggle/battle for me. Somehow with running, I’m probably the most calm about it…which is really odd for me to say given how much of a challenge running is for me. I guess maybe I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself with running, I just try to run happy as often as I can, and that somehow leads to happy running above all, for the majority of the time anyway. And maybe it’s also because I love to run but I don’t run for a time goal per se, and don’t place that kind of pressure on myself? In other words, I don’t run to win, I run for me. Does that even make sense?
      Jess recently posted..Marathon training is….easy?! ( Profile

    12. This is another great and inspirational post. Patience is such an important thing to have, yet so challenging at times!

    13. Yes, you nailed so many of those key running moments for patience… I’ve definitely dealt with the patience in injury and in coming back from injury. It’s very tempting to do too much too soon.
      Thinking of you Michelle, and hoping you can be patient and at peace in these final weeks!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Foodie Penpal Reveal!My Profile

    14. I am a get it NOW person as well. This is why running has been so important in my life. It allows me some space, time and slows my brain down enough for me to realize the “good and bad” of being this way. I am a “do’er” an anti procrastinator (this is the good thing about being impatient) . The negative is exactly what you stated above. Finding the balance is the difficult part for me. When to “do” and when to “wait”, it’s fine tuning that strategy that comes with experience that’s tough. Guess I’ll have to be patient! :) As usual a beautiful post Ms.G. Glad you were able to get away with your family. Hope you are doing well. xoxo
      Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Almost Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    15. It’s funny because what your chiro told you, my doctor told me – accept the injury and be patience, you will heal, it will just take time.

      As we live in a world where answers and replies come in an instant and you can get a google answer for just about anything within 3 seconds of thinking of the question it is easy to forget that nature doesn’t work that way…

      In other areas in my life, such as my career, I am impatient, I need to work up towards my dream job and gain the knowledge and skills rather than just land a position and mess it up.

      Have a great day, glad you are blogging again after your wonderful trip and time with your fam. AJ just looks adorable in his little tux.
      Helen recently posted..Once a hero, always a heroMy Profile