Bad runs start two ways --
1. You set yourself up for a less than enjoyable day.
2. You do everything right and you still crash and burn.
It's one of life's many unanswered questions, WHY DO BAD RUNS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
Let's be honest, bad runs can leave you questioning why the hell you're chasing whatever goal you're trying to run down. Maybe it's becoming a runner, or maybe it's making it to the finish line of your first half marathon, bad runs don't care if you're a brand new runner or a seasoned one, no one can outrun a bad run.
These are the 3 stages of a shitty run...
1. Blind optimism.
Yup. Whether you know it's going to be shitty or not, there's something to be said for repeating "one more mile" until your brain bleeds. Sometimes the hardest part is getting out the door. Sometimes the hardest part is getting out the door and then every single step that follows it.
2. Phantom aches.
Phantom pains are real and they are your body's way of saying "my dog ate my homework". Nine times out of ten, your foot isn't actually about to fall off. No, you probably didn't break something. Your body is just trying to say, "This is horrible, let's go home now."
3. "Why Me."
This is usually the point where you pull your phone out and either A- Call an Uber to take you home or B- Build a shelter and stay put for the rest of your life. OK fine, or C- Tell yourself to get through it.
Something a lot of people don't talk about is how often bad runs happen. They won't be few and far between. They happen A LOT. Like a lot a lot a lot. Running isn't always enjoyable. If you're learning how to get comfortable pushing through discomfort or if you're a new runner trying to learn how to be content being bored, running isn't always smiling selfies and runner's highs. It's about surviving the shitty runs and then living to run another day.
The truth is, bad runs are important because they build mental resilience. I'm a big fan of racing and not because I like to try to win. I think it's important to have a tangible goal be it a distance or a time, and then being with a community of like minded individuals all chasing down something intimidating. When you're working towards a goal race, you don't get to give up. You have to show up and do the work. Otherwise, you won't make it to race day.
That being said, there are some things you can do to make those shitty soul crushing run less horrible or frequent. First, stop saying "I have to run". You don't have to do anything. It's a choice. The same goes for saying things like "I'm suffering" or "this is the worst". Yes, we both know it's the worst, but your brain needs you to hear you say, "this is totally worth it". Your attitude has an effect on the outcomes of a shitty run. Fake it until you become it. Be grateful. Be happy. And figure out how to enjoy yourself. (Because complaining is a one way street to hell.)
And don't forget to celebrate the small stuff. Sometimes just making it to the three-mile marker is something that needs a happy dance. Don't be afraid to pat yourself on the back when you get out the door on the days when you'd much rather be on the couch watching Netflix.
You may not be able to run from the shitty runs, but remember that you aren't alone. We're all fighting through it right there with you.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.