What Goes Up Must Go Down

Last weekend after my half marathon my fire was lit.  I was excited, I was ready and I wanted to get more quality training in.  The fact is after running a 1:25.32 half marathon (something I didn’t see myself capable of for a few more months again) I was still the same runner as the morning before.  It wasn’t as if I had been given magical powers for 90 minutes, the race was a reflection of training smartly the last couple of months”

I was told something a couple of years ago (very early into my running career):

“When you have a significantly good or bad race, you are still the same person before the race.  The race itself is a reflection of good, bad and mediocre training.  You have not changed because of the race”.

After racing I was ready to dive back into regular training.  My plan was to take 3 days easy, another tempo run on Thursday and off on Friday, easy shakeout on Saturday and then a 10k in Philadelphia on Sunday.  That had been my rough weekly schedule the last month and it payed off well. On Tuesday I realized how stupid that plan was. 

After two easy days (Monday and Tuesday) I rested on Wednesday and came back for more easy runs the rest of week.  It was the smartest thing I could have done for myself.  By Saturday and Sunday I was feeling relatively normal again.

I think mentally it was the toughest for me.  With a three week window between Lake Effect and Shamrock, I wonder if in reality I can drop 40 seconds on a tougher course?  I have to constantly remind myself that running is a process and that I am still the same runner whether I have an extremely good race or an extremely bad race.

If for instance, I run a 1:35 half marathon due to blowing up or having a personal bad race at Shamrock, I would still be the same runner that ran a 1:25 at Lake Effect half marathon three weeks prior.  The same applies to PRing.  Last year I raced half marathons ranging from 1:24.49-1:31.  I ran half marathon training runs that went upwards to two hours.  Running is a blessing and a curse that has you always striving to be better.

Mentally taking it easy and recovering was exactly what I needed last week.  We often get caught up in looking towards the next race or PRing at the next distance but we have to remember that we do need down time.  If we don’t recover, we won’t be able to PR.

As runners we have to constantly remind ourselves that to reach the top of the mountain we have to start at the bottom.  Once you reach the top, you must climb (or slide I guess) back down so you can climb back up.  No one stays at the top of the mountain forever.  It’s always a hard and humbling lesson but one I truly believe everyone needs to learn.  Through injury, rest and recovery we slide down the mountain just as we climbed up.

There are many mountains in your lifetime and training to climb.

Question for you: What is the last humbling experience you have had? 


  1. I am so glad I saw this, because this is the reminder I needed. Although I am marathon training, I have a target 5K coming up and due to poor short distance times last year- this girl is a little nervous. There is always that worry of not getting faster and faster- but the truth is that there will be days slower than others and that’s okay, just like you said. Thank for you for this- I am your thoughts with me this weekend for my 3.1! 🙂

  2. Now, I do thunk you are being a little hard on yourself, especially because of how much you are racing – but I totally understand your sentiment here. I struggle with understanding (or accepting) what my body is capable of, and sometimes I need to let performance goals go for recovery. That being said, I think you are going to surprise yourself in this race – but even if you don’t, you’re accomplishments are alway amazing.

    I love how you want things without reservations. I need to do that without creating caveats that will protect me if I fail. So inspirational!

    1. Thank you for your support! I’m just taking it day by day and seeing where I go! I won’t be devastated if I don’t PR but it would be really nice.

      1. Oh, and I will respond to your email! Sorry it’s taken me so long – school is eating up my time like crazy!

  3. My most humbling experience in recent memory was the 2013 Crawlin Crab. In that case it was both me and the race or, at least, the weather on race day. It was unseasonably warm and I had decided ahead of time that I needed to PR. Rather than taking the temperature into account and modifying my expectations, I went out way too fast and by Mile 10 was in horrible shape. A couple of times I almost sat down on the curb. I walked a lot. In the end, rather than being my best half, it was, by far, my worst. At the time, I was crushed. In retrospect, I reflected on all the things I did wrong and made it a lesson learned.

    1. I remember reading how hot it was. It reminded me of the rock and roll half with those conditions. I think some of the hardest races we learn the most about ourselves!

  4. Planning this wedding is extremely humbling. I have to recognize that, no matter what, I still should accept people’s help and suggestions. they may not be what I had in mind, but they also may be more than I could have thought on my own!

  5. Just this morning. I like to chit-chat in the morning. Mrs. Bommer…not so much. This morning, she looked at me lovingly and said: “You talk too much.” 🙂

  6. My most humbling experience was having to walk to finish my second marathon. I had raced a 20 miler earlier in my training (about 6 weeks out) at 2:18 so I was planning for sub 3 and ended up at 5:20 or something like that after eating a gel that had fruit extract in it and spending half an hour by the side of the road puking. I had the allergic reaction, then was so dehydrated and fatigued, I couldn’t run anymore. I had to walk the last 11ish miles which made me so upset. Logically, I know it wasn’t a reflection on my training but all that hard work and statistically, if someone were to look me up I look like I was unprepared to run and super slow and it took me months to get over that.

  7. Sounds like a really smart decision to take it easy for a couple of days as soon as you realized your body needed it, rather than stubbornly sticking to your plan (as I often do). The worst thing you could do for your upcoming race is neglect your recovery from Lake Effect.

    I’ll admit, I was kind of proud of myself for running through the snow and ice this winter. Then I realized it was aggravating my chronic IT band issue, and I found myself having to take more time off. Talk about humbling!

  8. people totally underestimate the power of the week after a race, especially if you are planning on continuing with other races in the near future. I always play it easy after.

  9. The most humbling race I have done in recent times was the marathon. But, I think all first marathons are humbling and I don’t normally go for long stuff, so I don’t even know if that “counts”. Otherwise, it would be the Winter Solstice 5K because that was quite the humbling 5K, I guess because I went into it with high hopes of doing well and… didn’t.

    I love the mountain analogy. You are so right, no one can stay at the top forever. Recovery is equally important.

    1. I agree and I think the majority of people I’ve chatted with post marathon have said nothing could have truly prepared them more but to actually run it.

      1. You are so right. I don’t think anything really prepares you for it, and there are so many race day variables. It’s easy to “just run through” issues in a 5K or 10K. Not so easy with a full… regardless, it’s definitely a distance you respect after you run a full whether you run one or a lot of em!

  10. Oh my!! I absolutely love this post Hollie I could not have wrote this any better myself. This post really is a true eye opener and my thoughts exactly. I need to constantly remind myself of these words. I’ve been trying to climb back up that mountain since March of last year to the point that most probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth race wise (I’ve only raced twice in one year’s time). My most recent disappointment is still fresh in my memory because it was just a couple weeks ago (Gasparilla) that race left me completely humbled and still needing to climb back up that mountain, a slow process which has begun today. I’ll be posting about that whole story soon. Once again, nice post!!!

  11. Woof, I wish I came across that quote after my first half. I made it so darn competitive and was really harsh towards myself for my time because I didn’t do any hill training and the entire course had rolling hills. I let that stupid time define me and my efforts. Months of training in AZ heat, countless long runs, everything went “bad”. Shame on me right? I look back now and laugh at how silly that was. I didn’t change because of the race, I grew wiser and stronger. I also learned patience within myself. Months later I feel humbled that I experienced those feelings and can identify between running out of love and running out of competition. I prefer to run with love and hit a new PR on my 2nd half. Guess what? I went in with no expectations, just wanted to have fun, and got a whole lot more out of it. Life is kinda strange that way huh? 😀

  12. Very nice!!! Well said. I have a couple elite friends here in Dallas. I’m always humbled when they run past me on the roads. I’ll try to keep up and chat with them, but can never last more than a mile or so (and they have to slow down some for me). To give you some perspective, one of them just ran a sub 1:04 half marathon!!!

  13. This post is dead on for me! I ran my 2nd BQ attempt unsuccessfully on Saturday and this post is a great reminder to me that my performance at that race doesn’t change me. I am still the runner I am. Thanks for this!

  14. This is kid of why I like racing into shape, because races give you confidence in workouts, which in turn give you more confidence for your next race. But I think that works best with shorter races. You can’t really do the same thing with half marathons and marathons because it takes longer to recover. I think you’re being very smart to take extra days easy between races.
    I haven’t heard that particular saying before, but I have been told that “talent doesn’t go away”, which is a nice reminder after a bad race or when you are injured. The meaning is similar, that you’re still the same runner you’ve always been. I have taken comfort in that many times when I start training after a long break.
    Recent humbling experience… My first 5k after having Emma, I got beat by a masters runner wearing sweatpants. Evidently she ran a PR and had a great race, and I was happy for her, but it was kind of tough to realize I was THAT out of shape.
    This has turned out to be a very long comment.

  15. I understand your feeling, but I also like your perspective on it. You address that you’re feeling like this and the steps necessary to “get over it”. We’ve all been there, though, and sometimes our slumps can last a while. Our running doesn’t change who we are as people, even though sometimes we feel like it does.

  16. I agree fully that your race reflects your training-sure we can have super days with perfect conditions but bottom line is it often matters how much time/effort/SMART DECISIONS you put into leading up to that day.

    For me, all of Crossfit has been humbling. I’m a very strong lady… been lifting since I was 13 years old. But doing that first open workout last week showed how much work I still have to do. And I’m ready to tackle all the training to get there =)

  17. Possibly having a stress fracture has definitely been a humbling experience for me. I’m used to assuming my body will take whatever I throw at it, so when I bumped up my mileage a little bit and was running way more than I was used to, I was just excited to be getting faster. I was starting to get obsessed with meeting whatever weekly mileage had been suggested for me, no matter how I actually felt, and eventually I realized that a pain I was feeling had started about two weeks prior and I’d just ignored it. By not dialing back just a little bit when I was feeling run down, I’ve had to take almost two weeks off. I’m hoping that tomorrow I find out that nothing is wrong, because even though two weeks off sucks, it’s a lot better than the time off needed to heal a stress fracture!

  18. This is a great post, Hollie. It’s tough to ignore the post-race/PR endorphin high and hit the ground running in terms of training immediately after (without giving your body the chance to rest and recover). And I totally agree with the idea of reaching the top of one mountain, then “falling,” and having the chance to climb another. Like yesterday, I moved up a group for speedwork; I hung with the group for five of our six 800m repeats, but fell off halfway through the last one. That was tough. But running with faster folks will only make me better–it’s all about the process.

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