I always warn my clients: “You will have good running days and bad running days. The good running days keep you motivated. The bad running days… well, they make you stronger.” I don’t mention the ugly running days. I don’t want to scare them off right away.
It doesn’t matter how long you have been running for, those bad days will always make an appearance when you least expect them to. It might happen during a training run or it could possibly hit hard on race day. My most recent bad day was during a trail half marathon. I made a wrong turn. I was so irritated for the remaining 9 miles that I nearly slowed down and said “forget this freakin’ half marathon!” Yet, I didn’t. I kept pushing myself like I normally would. Maybe I have learned that bad days will happen and there isn’t much you can do but keep moving forward. That is where the strength comes in. You gain more with each bad run.
How about ugly run days? Well, they are ugly. These days you might need to stop because you can’t physically run any farther. I will never forget my ugly day back in Jacksonville Beach about 2.5 years ago. I was running a 10-miler with a friend. I had some issues leading up to that run, but this particular run was a realization that something was terribly wrong. Not too long after, a visit to the doctor revealed that I had a protruding disk pushing on a nerve. It was causing severe pain any time I brought my leg forward. Yep, I couldn’t even walk without the major OUCH factor. Three months and 20 physical therapy visits later, I was finally able to start all over again. Did that ugly experience make me mentally stronger? Yes, it sure did! It also made me smarter. I started triathlon training so I could give my body a break from so much running.
Good days anyone? Last weekend I ran an 18-miler alone at the beach. I don’t know how many 18-milers I have completed in my life, but that was the best one thus far. I had to wake up at 4:45 AM and it was still hot and humid, but there was something that was just working in my favor. Maybe it was the sunrise at the beach or the peaceful feeling of being out and about during the early morning hours. No complaints, I was definitely having a good running day.
There you have it. Not all running days are going to be wonderful. You might need to spend 10 minutes frantically searching for the nearest bathroom. Or maybe a muscle starts to spasm and you have to walk all the way back to your house. What about the time it started hailing and you had to run for cover in order to avoid being pummeled? How about when a few rain showers turned into a squall? Currently, I hear a lot of complaints about the heat. If it isn’t the heat in the summer, then it is the snow and ice in the winter. OMG, that run was all HILL! Maybe you just didn’t eat enough and hit the WALL. Yep, I have been there, done it all. The point is not to fret so much over the bad runs because there are plenty of good runs to go around. Learn from the bad so you can fully enjoy the good. Those good runs will be filled with “wow, I am FAST today” or “what a great way to release stress from a rough day at work” or “wow, this scenery is amazing.” You will find inner peace on those good runs and feel like you are moving along at your full potential. It may even seem EASY (is there such a word in running??). Hold on to that moment so you can whip it out any time you need some extra motivation.
When you are in the middle of a bad run, don’t stop. Keep going. That is the only way you will get stronger. Then, after your irritation has been calmed, you can laugh at your bad run and be grateful that it wasn’t ugly. But, if you ever encounter an ugly run, know that those bad runs have made you a stronger person and you WILL prevail!
Sometimes you LOVE running and sometimes you HATE it. It’s okay. Running forgives and forgets.