I love a good run.
The kind of run where you don’t want to stop and you would just keep going if you didn’t have to worry about time, eating, and other responsibilities.
The kind of run where you’re exhausted when you finish but at the same time feel great. You feel like you could accomplish anything. You feel as light as air and if you weren’t so pleasantly exhausted, you could probably jump and touch that tree branch 12 feet in the air.
The kind of run where the weather is perfect. Not too hot. Not too cold. A nice breeze seems to be cheering you on, begging you to go further and faster.
The kind of run where your legs feel great. Fast. Smooth. Efficient. Like a machine.
The kind of run were everything seems to just fall into place and you forget about everything else. You forget about running form. You forget about work. You just let go and run.
Unfortunately, all runs can’t be like that. Everyone will inevitably have a bad run every once in a while.
Bad runs, like bad days, are a part of life. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.
There are days when you’d rather stay home and read or watch TV. There are days when you go out to run and still nothing seems to be going right. You get a side stitch. You stub your toe, trip, and fall.
For example, one of my wife’s runs last week was a bad run. The run started off fine, but then she realized her pre-run snack included to much hot sauce. Then she got stung by a wasp. Let’s just say it went downhill from there.
Often, when I have a bad run, usually other non-running things aren’t going so well either. There are those days when nothing seems to be going right. Everyone has days like these. No matter what you do or try to do, it doesn’t go as planned.
Maybe you’re not feeling your best. Your neck and shoulders are in knots.
Maybe there is an issue with your car. A strange scraping noise like it’s dragging a piece of metal or the engine itself.
Maybe you spill your iced coffee drink. You were looking forward to indulging a little. Something to make the day a little better. But the iced coffee with Stevia and almond milk creamer runs over the edge of the stove and into the bottom drawer, all over the cookie and cupcake sheets stored there. The liquid also runs under the stove and all over the floor. Instead of enjoying your drink, you spend the next 30 minutes cleaning.
Well, one of these days happened to me this week. This exact day, in fact. We’ve all had days like these so I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining or seeking sympathy.
Bad runs, like bad days, are a part of life. These are obviously small problems in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. Everyone gets into a funk every now and then.
On Tuesday when nothing seemed to be going right, I still ran. My neck and shoulders were on fire. My legs felt tired and heavy as if my feet were cinderblocks. The humidity was thick and the air was still as if the entire trail was covered in greenhouse plastic. The bugs were swarming, stinging my eyes, sticking to my skin. An unexpected thunder storm erupted in the middle of the run, forcing a change in plans. It was just all around unpleasant. But I still ran and I was glad I did in the end.
Bad runs, like bad days, are a part of life. They can’t be avoided. And it doesn’t make you any less of a runner. In fact, I would say bad runs are an important part of running.
When you have a bad run, the question is how do you respond.
Do you let it get you down? Do you curse the stars? Do you wonder why the universe and everything in it is against you? I know I do sometimes. Despite my best efforts it’s easy to fall into that trap.
Or do you bounce right back up? Do you accept the fact that some things are beyond your control and try to make do the best you can?
Bad runs, like bad days, are a part of life. Sometimes it is okay to take a day off, especially if you’re not feeling well. I know that is hard for a lot of runners. But maybe your body is telling you something. Pushing to hard is a good way to get injured. I probably shouldn’t have run on Tuesday with my neck pain, but I don’t always listen.
But if you don’t have any specific pains, I often think it is best to just push through it and run anyway. Most of the time when I don’t feel like running, but go anyway, even if it is for just a short, easy, but awful 5 miles, I feel much better at the end.
Bad runs, like bad days, are a part of life. The only thing you can do is to roll with the punches. Like a boxer, when you move with the incoming punch, you lesson the impact. In running, and life, you need to change and adapt with the bad days.
The next time you are having a bad run or bad day, consider this. What if all your runs were like the run I described in the first few paragraphs? What if the weather was always perfect? What if your legs always felt great? To me, that would take some of the specialness out of those runs. If they were always the same, then nothing sets them apart. There would be no sense of awe when everything seems just perfect. There would be no “holy crap, this is a great run” moment. Good runs can’t exist without the bad runs.
Bad runs, like bad days, are a part of life. Whenever possible, we should be thankful for them as well.
As always, comments are appreciated. Let me know of any thoughts or questions below. Thanks for reading.