The First Few Miles

I'm not a huge fan of the first few miles of a run.

Well, let me rephrase that. I'm not a fan at all of the first few miles of a run. To be more precise: I'm struggling through the first 3 miles / 5K of my runs. Yep, all of them.

There is this Dutch saying stating that the last part of everything (for example: a project at work, a marathon, a work out) is the hardest part. This does not apply to me. At all. I'm the girl you will definitely not catch smiling during the first 5K of a marathon. Then again, I'm the girl that's smiling like a mad girl in the last couple of miles. Nutso, I know. Maybe that's also why I usually try to avoid 5K races.

Don't get me wrong. When I head out for a run, I'm looking forward to it, only to find myself feeling blah for the first three miles. After that, I'm smiling. Yep, smiling. Even on a hilly (okay, monster hills) 20-miler. And enjoying the scenery. Especially in these gorgeous Swiss Alps. Every run feels like a precious gift out here (okay, cheesy, I know. Get over it.).

When finishing the Swiss Alpine Marathon K42 last July, I was smiling and jumping around like nobody's business. Best finish line photos ever. Hard to believe that I looked like I was ready to throw myself of a cliff at the 5K mark. Same thing happened at the New York City Marathon. Even with a calf strain. There's seriously something wrong with me.

I'm having a hard time believing that they will ever find a cure for my 'first miles' blues. They probably won't. Those first three miles/5K are just something I've learned to deal with. The thought of feeling amazing after that first hump, get's me through.

I guess I'm build for the long run. Or so I hope. ;)

Anyone out there battling this same problem?


Johann said...

I take 7km to settle into a run. I don't have serious issues the first 7km but just start feeling comfortable after 7km. The difference is that I find it hard again towards the finish.

Jason said...

I used to suffer that same issue, but I began doing dynamic stretches before every run (long or short) and now it takes me about 10 steps before I'm into it.

What is dynamic stretching? Walking lunges, high knees, butt kicks, step-overs....these all get my HR into the area of 113-115 and I am running at an easy pace at 140 so within a few steps I am there and comfortable.

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Morgan said...

What about if you stopped thinking about them as grueling work and tried to enjoy them as warm-up miles? I've found that when I mentally shift my attitude towards something, especially runs, I can get through them much better. I had a lot of this when I finally got over my hatred for running in the rain and now, now I look out the window without blinking and search for my hat.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

It usually takes a while for me to settle in too. Not always but often I don't feel comfortable with my stride, my form, the air, my breathing, the smells around me, the feel of the ground. It's like at first everything kinda bothers me and then without even really noticing it happen, I feel relaxed and at ease. It more than just a need to warm up feeling it's like there is something off and I just have to find that right rhythm.

nikeathena said...

I take awhile to settle in as well. I'm still building my mileage base, but I'm told even after you have a strong base the first three miles are difficult. I think Morgan has a point about making a mental shift and thinking about them as warm up miles.

giraffy said...

Nope, I'm the same... it takes me awhile to find my groove most of the time. Bleh. But generally once I get into it and find my stride, I'm golden!

Heather said...

The first mile is always the worst for me. Doesn't matter how far the run will end up, I feel like it is an eternity to get through the first mile.
I read the above comment about the dynamic stretching and might give that a try, I was wondering if there was something different I could do for the warm up.
You are definitely not alone in the first few mile "blahs!"

Holly said...

I am the same way. It doesn't matter if I am on a treadmill or the road. It does take less time if I'm outside than on the treadmill, maybe less to distract me. I think if I focus on my form and breathing that it helps me relax faster and get in the groove.

Beth said...

Yep, same thing here! The first three miles always drag and feel uncomfortable, but after that I can just keep going. I've just learned to accept that as my warm-up and only go on runs longer than 4 miles so that I feel good at the end!

Jana from Running Vegetarian said...

Lately I have. I think its because I have spent most of winter on a dreadmill.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it's not just me. I used to be able to roll out of bed, into my shoes and hit the ground happy. I do believe that runners by nature become hypersensitive of how their body is feeling and after so many years and miles of running (32 yrs for me), we know what an ideal run feels like. After that- many runs just don't stack up. It not only has to do with how my body feels, but what the weather's like, how I slept, what's going on today, etc. etc. etc. However- this is "my" time and I covet it more every day. It doesn't work to keep the destination (goal) in mind, and I am more into enjoying being outside than worrying about how fast I'm going. (If I go too fast, it will end sooner than I want it to!!!) I plan to run my next marathon pretending I'm running through a cool, dry pine forest with a soft, cushy trail. I'll try to ignore all that's going on around me, and how my body feels, and instead practice some imagery. Maybe that will help me get through the first three...Once the endorphins kick in- then there's usually no problem. The other thing I've learned recently- check your problems at the front door when you start. There is nothing that will make me want to stop running more than dwelling on a problem or something that makes me depressed.