Letting Go of Bad Runs
If you’ve recently had a bad run or workout, repeat after me:
“I am better than my last run.”
“One bad run doesn’t define me.”
“What defines me is all the effort I’ve put in over time.”
“I am going to learn something from my bad run and move on. Now.”
“My bad run is not an indication of how I will run tomorrow or next week.”
Recently, several runners I know and love have complained to me about having a terrible run. They can’t seem to let it go and are holding onto it with every last bit of brain power. They are living in a state of fear that their future running will be dictated by that one crappy day (or handful of days).
I’m here to tell you; you are better than your last bad run. Bad runs come with the territory. If you want to be a runner, you must embrace the bad runs. Just like life, running can’t always be perfect, no matter how much we want it to be.
A week ago, I had one of my worst runs of the season. Here I was, less than 3 weeks from my big race, and I ran 7 of the worst, most painful miles I can recall in ages. I literally felt like it was the first time I’d ever moved my legs. Let’s examine the facts:
- From the moment I left my driveway, my legs felt like lead.
- My body had zero energy.
- I had to stop and walk twice.
- I had to go diarrhea at a Starbucks at the half-way point. (C’mon guys, you know what you sign up for when you read this blog. It’s about the unladylike adventures of running. Stop giving me that disgusted face. *wink*)
- My last mile was my slowest mile, which is similar to the pace I run my slow warm-ups at before a speed session or tempo run.
Does a run like that shake your confidence a tad? Sure. We’d all be lying if we said it didn’t. But we often forget to think about all the factors that can lead to runs like these:
- Have you drunk enough during the last 24 hours, or are you dehydrated? Do you have the right electrolyte balance in your body?
- Have you eaten enough in the last 24 hours? Have you eaten well?
- Did you get enough sleep last night and during the course of the week?
- Have you been working out hard all week (or for several straight weeks)? Is your body sore, tired and/or in need of a rest day?
- How is the weather? Is it hotter than usual? Humid?
- Were you in the right mental state before you left the house? Did you think the run was going to be good, or had you given up before you even started?
All of these factors – and many more – affect our running. Identify anything you could’ve controlled and work on changing that when and where you can. And quickly move on. Erase it from your brain. Start fresh tomorrow.
Last week’s run doesn’t define me. Last week’s run isn’t an indication of how I’m going to perform at Beach2Battleship or what kind of athlete I am. Last week’s run doesn’t suddenly discount all the amazing runs (and swims and bikes) I’ve had during the last 19 weeks.
Please remember this the next time you have a bad run. I know it’s hard, but you are better than your last crappy workout. You are strong. Channel the frustration from that bad run into making your next workout great. Stop remembering what went wrong and focus on what you can do right moving forward.
3 days later, I had one of my best runs of the season. Case in point.
How do you deal with a bad run or workout? Do you tend to focus on bad runs for a while or let them go quickly?