Tri Challenge: Not every workout is a good one
July 6th, 2011
10:11 AM ET

Tri Challenge: Not every workout is a good one

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It’s good to hear about all the positive workouts and events that I and the other 6-packers have had, but sometimes it’s comforting to know that no matter how hard you train, you’re just going to have a bad day or two. I’m human and sometimes things just aren’t going to go my way.

I had a longer run scheduled for this past Sunday. Six miles. Mentally, I know I can do this distance; I raced a 10k back on April 2 without any problems. I wanted to use this run as a test of how far I’ve come and pace myself according to my NYC race plan. I wanted to rock this run, so I went to bed early. (9:30 on a Saturday night. Ahh, the exciting nightlife of an aspiring triathlete!)

I ended up sleeping later than I wanted to because I was very tired from my long bike ride Saturday morning. I got up and ate a good breakfast and gave my food some time to settle. The weather was cool and there were scattered storms expected throughout the day but it was just cloudy when I headed out. My first mile or so was grueling. My legs just weren’t into it yet and felt like cement blocks. I started loosening up and feeling pretty good and that’s when the rain started. It came down heavily for a minute or two and backed off. I can’t say that this particularly bothered me. It was actually very refreshing. After the brief shower, the sun was trying to peek through and was really heating things up. The air was so thick with humidity it was a struggle to breathe at times.

At about the 2-mile mark, I was cruising along nicely and heard a pop. I wasn’t sure what it was, but being the day before the Fourth of July, I figured it was a stray snap pop on the sidewalk from an impatient child itching to start the celebration. Then I heard it again and felt something graze the top of my head. It wasn't a pop it was a bird chirping loudly. A BIRD WAS ATTACKING ME! I’m running down the sidewalk on a main street in my town waving my arms above my head and screaming because of a silly bird. I’m shouting at the top of my lungs and this bird keeps dive-bombing me. I take off in an all-out sprint to try to escape the wrath of an angry mother bird. I escaped, but pushed my heart rate higher than I should have.

The next few miles of my run were rather uneventful. Run, fuel, hydrate, repeat. I was moving slower than I’d have liked to and just felt generally kind of yucky on this run. At the 5-mile point, I noticed that the sky was starting to get pretty dark and clouding up. I could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance, but figured with only a mile left, I’d be safely inside my house before the storm broke out. About .40 miles from home, the sky opened up. I couldn’t hide my disgust for this run any longer. I started yelling really loudly because I was so frustrated. The rain was coming down so hard and fast that flash flooding was beginning around storm drains and low-lying spots. My feet were squishing in my shoes from the standing water that was in them, I could feel my feet rubbing uncomfortably on them as I trucked it back home. My GPS went off alerting me that I’d finished my 6 miles and I was so irritated I walked the last few hundred feet back to the house because I was already soaking wet, what’s a few more drops?

After a bad run, I’m even more committed to making the next one ROCK. It can be frustrating to go out with the intentions of having an awesome workout and then get foiled by weather, birds, or a million other tiny things that can throw you off, but training is training and bad runs are still good practice. There’s always an unexpected variable that can throw a wrench in your race, and I’m happy to say I’ve worked through a few blunders on this training run.

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. TriHardNinaLove

    Stasia, what a HOOT!!! I wish I could have been with you for the angry-bird-incident; we would have fallen over laughing! I have also been caught in a storm; all you can do is try to dodge the lightning and come to terms with being soaked. These things build CHARACTER and GRIT! 😀 See ya in 4 weeks-can't wait!

    July 6, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stef

      Nina, I totally agree with you. Too many people are too fast to criticize. The bird incident sounds like something that would have happened to me. You can make that stuff up and it always makes us laugh! Personally, I love running in the rain– makes it less painful in my mind, however, I think we've all had those days when we've just had "enough" of mother nature. Good luck to the whole slew of you and enjoy the friendships you've made along the way!!

      July 6, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  2. Cathy W

    Ouch! Hope the bird didn't do too much damage!

    July 6, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Charles Gilman

    Three mistakes; thinking 9:30 is early (try 7:30), eating before running (no one does that, unless it's oatmeal no earlier than 7 hours before), and not planning for the weather- some simple planning makes every workout without injury a great workout.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      I disagree about not eating before running. I'm not talking like a full-on meal here, but I like to have a piece of fruit or a granola bar 30 mins or an hour before running. It's probably completely in my head, but I feel like I have more energy when I do.

      July 6, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      If I don't eat something before I run, I will sometimes have a sugar crash in the middle of the run. I'm not talking about eating Thanksgiving Dinner here, but a bowl of cereal, or a banana, or some granola, etc.

      July 6, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • Casey

      Really Chuck? This was 6 miles, not a marathon. Feel free to eat before knocking out 6.

      July 6, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • TriMan

      You're clearly not a runner if you think every workout is a good one. There's just days where the legs are heavy/body is tired. Early is all relative, and eating before a training run is very normal (not immediately before). Also, not everyone's schedule permits planning workouts around the weather forecast.

      My advice to the bird and rain situation: Try to put a mental spin on these incidents that makes them fun. I usually have a huge grin on my face when training in downpours because it's something different and I don't care how wet I am! Remember, If your dedicated enough to push through these obstacles then you'll be that much more prepared come race day!

      July 6, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
    • pay attention Charles!!

      Charles, she said she went to bed at 9:30 the night before, she didn't get up at 9:30. maybe you should learn to read before criticizing someone.

      July 6, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      This depends completely on the length of the run, as well as individual comfort. When I was in the Army, I usually ate something small before PT in the morning, as it seemed to help on days when we were really pushing it. Occasionally, I'd forget, and the resulting acid stomach (and rare but always memorable oral discharging of bile) would be enough for me to remember to leave enough time for something light (fruit, toast, a cup of instant oatmeal) before that run.

      July 6, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    I always check the doppler radar before I head out for a long run. I've never been attacked by a bird, but one time I was attacked by the side-view mirror of a pickup truck doing 40 mph. Almost took my shoulder clean out of its socket! Got that b-stard's license plate number and called the cops when I got home, though.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bob Chase

    Sorry, but I can't help but think of that Seinfeld episode with Elaine's big, giant, freak-head. LOL!

    As long as you understand and accept the concept of: "expect the unexpected" you'll do just fine. There are millions of people out there that don't have the cojones to do what you're doing. Keep on truckin' and good luck in your race.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Michael

    6 miles considered a long run? YIKES! Prop's to you trying to get into shape though...

    July 6, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SnakeHips

      Everybody has to start somewhere. A year ago I was dying after my first 5K. I was just happy I finished under an hour and I wasn't the last person on the course. This year I'm ready to do the Tough Mudder.

      July 6, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • fun runner

      really? you're a dick to say that.

      July 6, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • cmh

      I agree with fun runner. I have worked up to walking 3.35 miles in hour. I must be a total loser. Oh yeah and I also had half a leg amputated because I had bone cancer. Hmmmmm, guess we can't all be as awesome as you Michael.

      July 6, 2011 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
  7. debbie

    I find it hilarious when birds attack, I mean what are they going to do? peck you to death??

    July 6, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daphne du Maurier


      July 6, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  8. alan seago

    I am a long distance runner, and have been for forty years. Ran my first marathon in 1980; ran my most recent marathon last year. Ran some ultras. Although I applaud this young lady for her commitment and accomplishment, I am surprised by how easily frustrated she is. A summer shower and an irritated bird ruined her run? She couldn't hide her disgust any longer? She is absolutely correct that not every workout is a good one, but she seems to want every workout to be a perfect one.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Reagan

    These comments are why I am ashamed to say I run: "I always plan ahead and things always go according to my plan", "My definition of early is earlier than yours", "I never get frustrated by anything in life", etc.

    Good for you girl. I enjoyed reading this. Don't give up!

    July 6, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Davee

      cheers to this comment! I'm a newbie triathlete and find it refreshing to know that not every runner is a snob who scoffs at those who think 5 or 10K is a long run. Thank you!

      July 6, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Theia


      The running snobs nearly drove me away from the sport 5 years ago, but I stubbornly kept going. I now have 1 marathon, 6 half marathons, numerous shorter races (everything from 5K to 20K), 7 duathlons, and 8 triathlons on my resume - and more to come! Don't let the running snobs get you down.

      July 6, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
  10. PHL

    That's a bad run? Be HAPPY you CAN run! Wow – what we take for granted.

    July 6, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. mdonln

    Funny, I don't have any of those problems at the gym. lol This, among other things, is why I don't enjoy working out outdoors anymore – but to each his own. Then again, I'm not training for any triathlons. I just love working out, moving my body and sweating* (*in workout clothes) so much I don't want anything getting in the way of that. Oh yeah, and I eat full meals right before working out too – no problem there. it just goes to show we all do it for our own reasons and enjoyment – for me, the health benefits are just an added bonus because I'd do it anyway. There are many paths to fitness.

    July 6, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 2g1c

      You're probably fat

      July 6, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • Chris


      July 6, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
    • mdonln

      Good one 2g1c – was that supposed to hurt my feelings? Okay, maybe I was being a tad flippant and sarcastic before but that was my reaction to what I read. Let me put it simply so you can follow –

      Isn’t Ms. Cirricione training for a triathlon? Last I checked, those are held outdoors and they usually start early in the morning. She may be tired before and during and it may even rain that day too. Even if it doesn’t rain, when she emerges from the water after the swim leg, she will be soaking wet and may be uncomfortable. What is she expecting?

      Someone needs to tell or remind Ms. Cirricione training isn’t all physical. She needs to figure out what to eat and when; she needs to make sure she gets enough rest; she needs to have a plan but stay flexible and, of course, she needs to develop mental strength, focus and endurance. That’s what will ultimately get her to her goal(s). Instead of feeling defeated and irritated by the unexpected, she should embrace it for what it is – an opportunity. Learn from it, finish strong and enjoy the boost of confidence from having overcome it. And, oh yeah – lighten up; enjoy yourself; otherwise, what’s the point?

      July 7, 2011 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
  12. Clifford

    To Theia: You criticize running snobs, but you are equally quick to point out all your running accomplishments. Seems to me you're doing exactly what you criticize others for doing.

    July 6, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DidA10KOnce

      Clifford: I think you're a bit hard on Theia. I read hers as, "Don't listen to those self-important jerks! I was where you are, including being put down by the snobs, but I succeeded despite them - and you can too!" Big difference!

      July 6, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • Krystalyn

      At last! Something clear I can udnrsetand. Thanks!

      December 25, 2011 at 01:50 | Report abuse |
    • rdsonuhxt

      Wd7Nbp fkqbwshzrdwd

      December 25, 2011 at 11:10 | Report abuse |
    • kalieyyxck

      QliULM igovxvweubpt

      December 26, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
  13. alberto

    i laughed really hard, especially the part of you screaming to the top of your lungs while bertie bird dive bombs your head. i really did laugh alot. there will be better days, but more importantly, keep up the committment to YOURSELF and be proud of yourself..

    July 6, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Clifford

    To DidA10K: Yes, I read Theia's post the same as you did. Yes, she was suggesting that others, people who, like her are proud of their accomplishments, are self-important jerks. That seemed harsh to me. Theia is proud of her marathon and her eight triathalons and numerous other successes, and she is right to be proud. Just as Chris is proud to have endured a shoulder injury while training, and just as Michael is proud that he is so fit that he doesn't consider six miles a long run. And they are right to be proud of their accomplishments too.

    July 6, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rog

      You know there is a 'reply' function here...

      July 6, 2011 at 20:43 | Report abuse |
  15. MJSouth

    The joy of training!! Each day is a gift that makes the beer just that much tastier!!!

    July 6, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RunningDude

    Some days are great, and some just aren't your day...just chalk it up as a bad day "at the office" and the fact that you are training is great, I salute you...oops...time for me to get my run in...

    July 6, 2011 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sarah

    Too funny! At least you seem to enjoy the story afterwards! I've trained for a number of events (various distances) and you are right- some times the runs just stink. Sometimes there are explanations for why things went wrong, while other times it just happens. In the end, you made it through- and that's what counts! Good job on a run well done- and may your next few training runs go smoother!

    July 6, 2011 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. victrav

    I actually consider every workout where I don't get injured in some way to be a good one. Fortunately, most are good. But when you mentioned hearing a "pop," I clearly remembered hearing the same sound when I tore my calf during an aerobic workout. And that sound laid me up for about two months. So birds I could take, and storms at 5.5 miles of a six mile run (one is probably wet at this point anyway), but "pops," I really hope never to hear that sound again.

    July 6, 2011 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. mrm

    I'm not sure what your complaining about, it sounds like a great run to me! Experiencing the weather, nature – all these things helped keep your mind off of stopping. Next time, GIVE THANKS THAT YOU ARE OUT THERE ABLE TO DO THIS and stop your whining.

    July 6, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. brickstrainingmomma

    Great job pushing through your workout challenge. It is fantastic you actually had that experience. One of my recent open water swims was very choppy and windy and I have to say I had a hard time enjoying it but kept thinking "it could be like this on race day" so I appreciated it. I too am new to triathlons and enjoy all of your posts. I am sorry that some others seem to just want to mock what they can't understand (meaning obviously some of you are not new to this sport -whether running or triathlon- and can no longer identify with being new to a sport). I wish you all the best in your journey this summer and hopefully many seasons to come. If you want to read about my ups and downs, check out glidertofinishline.blogspot.com. And, to make you feel better, my most recent open water swim I had an eagle circling me checking me out – it was interesting (at least he didn't dive bomb me!)

    July 6, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. jopsjennings

    Sometimes I wonder about those kinds of days because part of the difficulties are just a reflection of the thoughts/feelings you woke up with that morning, and another part of it is actually your body saying "Sod off, I don't feel like running today!" And it can be pretty tough to sort out how much of each is at play.

    July 6, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. jaja63

    I about peed my pants laughing reading your account of your workout, especially the bird. My husband regularly gets threatened (no real attack yet) by a bird on his runs. No one in our town believed him until it happened to another runner.

    And, I could totally empathize with your frustration. I can't count the number of times I've gone out for a planned workout that I've expected (hoped) to ROCK and have instead been utterly disappointed, frustrated, mad, wanting to scream or literally throwing up that pizza that I definitely should not have eaten at lunch. You've come to a conclusion that it took me months to reach – that bad workouts happen and that we can still get something out of them.

    July 7, 2011 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. squonk

    Just wait 'till you get sideswiped/run off the road when you are biking. A little rain will seem like a walk in the park.

    July 7, 2011 at 08:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Midwest Girl

    Love the part about the bird attack! I was attacked by a bird at work one day, and no one believed me. Nice to know I'm not the only one this has happened to.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Lane

    Dear Girl, by observing your size you need to focus on your interior & make it superior. You haven't mastered the mental game which spills out onto the physical which is the icing on the cake. "Life starts out looking like mountains in size. As we search out our minds & stretch out our strides, mountains become molehills through conditioning & pride." QUOTE from our book: "MIND MATTER MOTION." Check out http://www.motionosis.com you will easily excell from where you're at now.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SnakeHips

      Way to go with the back handed compliment. So not the place to advertise whatever creepy cult you seem to belong to. St. Fu.

      July 7, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  26. J-Rod

    I run 3-4 times a week, at least 5-6 miles at a time just to stay in shape. But these people who are "snobs" about running are just hilarious. Those who cant do, run.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. gogosss

    Go girl! Don't let the negativity get you down. You are moving... running... trying. Be proud of your accomplishment. Love your article!

    July 7, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Eve

    I'm training with TNT for this tri and I know how hard it can be... Congratulations on doing the work. See you the 7th.

    July 12, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.