It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re a veteran runner — bad workouts happen.
Maybe you get halfway through your first interval and suddenly feel like there’s no way you’ll make it to the end. Or maybe everything is going great until you hit the wall sometime after the halfway point. While there’s certainly no reason to dwell on an inevitable tough run, it is good to spend some time now thinking about how you’re going to respond when it does happen.
Just keep in mind that being a serious athlete isn’t about avoiding tough days. It’s about how you respond and recover. Here are some tips for pushing back and turning a negative into a positive as consistently as possible.
Before your run. Okay, sometimes you just see these things coming. You feel crummy and sluggish long before you even get around to lacing up your sneakers. Sure, you might be a little under the weather or a little sore, but that’s not going to be what sinks your workout. What sinks workouts is a lousy attitude. The best thing you can do is set reasonable expectations and commit to getting out there and running — not to break any records, but to get through the workout as planned. Remember, if you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming run, just decide that you are going to get out there and run when you’re supposed to run and walk when you’re supposed to walk. More often than not, the rest takes care of itself.
During your run. Sometimes you just hit a wall. You might feel great all day and even get deep into your run before you start feeling like you’re not up to snuff.
Breathing gets tough. Muscles feel weak. Seconds start ticking by a little slower than they should.
So what can you do? First, decide that quitting isn’t going to be an option. Make it really clear to yourself that you might have a lousy run, but you are going to get through it. You can spend a lot of mental energy arguing with yourself and trying to justify throwing in the towel. Unless you’re injured, commit to the workout.
Then, do what you need to and get back that positive attitude regardless of how the run is going. Find something to feel good about, whether it’s taking some deep, energizing breaths or just deciding to own the next minute and not worry about anything else. If you can power through the next interval, you’ll be able to get through the one after that. Just take it one stage (and one step) at a time.
After your run. Once you finish a tough workout, your next order of business should be to make sure the next one is much better. First, take some encouragement from the fact that you got through a tough one. The next time you’re facing a challenging workout, you can draw on that experience and remember how empowering it was to get through to the other side. Then, make sure you’re taking good care of yourself so that you’re set up for success next time around. Eat well. Ice down achey muscles. Recommit to staying hydrated.
Most importantly, just remember to keep it all in perspective. Bad runs come and go, but the success of the broader training program is what matters. If you have a really bad one, laugh it off. That’s a war story and the best runners have plenty of them.
How about you? Any tips on turning a bad run around?