It’s bound to happen. After a streak of pretty decent runs, it’s only a matter of time. Considering the fact that I run a lot, the laws of probability state that every once in a while, something bad is probably going to happen. Maybe it’s 95 degrees outside and you find yourself becoming one with the molten pavement. Maybe you are finding yourself exhaling the contents of your stomach rather than air. Maybe your legs are deader than George Washington in his grave and you feel like you’re running backwards.
You see, a bad run is like a bad date.
You start out excited and anxious, with feelings of incredulous optimism thinking, “I wonder where this could go!” I hope it’s great, maybe we’ll try it again if it is!”
And then the date begins. It starts out a little slow, but you’re still optimistic and hope for the best.
Shockingly, it doesn’t get better. You get bored. You become tired. You get distracted because you’re uninterested and perhaps your date is giving you digestive issues. The amount of strength it’s taking to remain engaged is exhausting and you feel like you might fall into a deep, hard sleep for a million years out of fatigue.
And when you didn’t think it could, it gets worse. You develop a permanent grumpy cat frown on your face. You may even shed a tear or two or throw a fit of rage.
After you can’t take it anymore, you throw your hands in the air and exclaim you would like to go home and have no interest in continuing this disaster.
You make your escape and throw up deuces. You wallow in self-pity, convinced your life is doomed from one bad date.
In the long haul, one bad run is nothing. But in the moment, it can tear you apart mentally and seem pretty tragic, especially if it’s a race.
Good news: you will survive. There is a cure called ‘get over it and try again.’ All it takes is one good run, and the bad one will seem like a little tiny fluke in the scheme of things.
Anatomy of recovering from a bad run:
- Throw a little pity party. Be upset, it’s okay. After you work so hard in your training and put in all those miles, it’s kind of your right to be a little pissed about it. Do what you’ve got to do to get your frustration out.
- Cheer up, buttercup. Anything can go wrong on a run, but it’s still important to remain positive. Negativity grows when you feed it, so finding a silver lining can help overcome it.
- Figure out what went wrong. If it was a race, consider things like if you tapered correctly, hydrate enough, sleep well, hit the wall, and your diet.
- Move on and set new goals. You’re probably not going to quit running after one bad race, right? Look to the future and see where you want to go next. If you’ve been running long distance, maybe focus on something different for a while.
- Manage your expectations. Know that bad runs are part of the game, and every once in a while you’ll come across one and think you’re totally screwed and your training has gone to crap.
Sometimes, you just simply can’t explain or find reasons why your run/race went sour. When you can’t nail it down to anything in particular, this can mess with your mind. When you have a bad race, remember that expecting every run to be a good one is expecting too much and will lead to disappointment. This isn’t to say don’t be optimistic, but just take it a day at a time. There will be days where you don’t feel like running, don’t finish the distance you set out for, and don’t meet your pace or time goals. Learn to go with the flow.
We run for a lot of reasons and we keep running because we like it. Don’t forget to run for the pure pleasure of just running sometimes. If you have a day when things don’t click, try again later. After all, having a bad run certainly beats not being able to run at all.