On Friday, my birthday, I had really big plans to have an awesome 20 miler and then go off and celebrate the rest of my day.
Unfortunately, my body had other ideas.
For background, last week I started to battle a cold (ugh) and so on Wednesday, I skipped my long run so that I could sleep in. On Thursday I also got to sleep in since I had a rest day, and then Friday was supposed to be my second 20 miler. I let myself sleep in a bit later than usual since I had the day off — finally getting bed around 8 a.m.
I had heard that it was supposed to be a REALLY nice day, and I guess I didn’t realize that also meant for a warmer than I’m used to run. Instead of thinking about that, I messed around at home for a bit, ate a piece of toast with butter and some PROBAR gels and headed out for my 20 miles with some Nuun and a gel.
Right when I started running, I knew it was going to be a bad run. I tried to remember if I had stretched at all because my legs felt like lead. I made it through the first three miles and thought maybe my “I love running” mentality would kick in like it usually does. No such luck. I made it to mile seven, woo! Took half of my gel and expected my short burst of speed to follow afterwards.
Nope, nope, nope.
I continued to run, giving myself a brief walking break at mile 8. Hey, it’s my birthday! I can do whatever I want. <— that’s the rationale I used with myself to make myself feel OK for doing so.
And then I finally made it one loop around, 10 miles. PHEW. One part of the run is done, two more parts to go. I decided I would go out three miles or so and come back, finishing on my hills. It hit me — the “this is a terrible run.” I told myself that I could do it, giving myself a few more walk breaks, and when I finally hit 16 on the way back to my apartment, I decided to cut my losses.
It was a tough decision to make, especially on my birthday, because the last thing I wanted to do was be all depressed that I couldn’t make 20. But, I know on a good day I could make 20 and there were other circumstances to consider here.
Sometimes, there are factors you can track that cause the bad run. Other times, not so much.
Either way, it’s time to pick up the pieces after you finish a bad run.
It can be devastating mentally. After all, if you don’t hit the goal that you had in mind, it can just make you feel like you are a failure. Especially when you are training for a marathon, you may begin to wonder: if I can’t do this, how can I run a marathon?
However, failure isn’t hitting your goal. That’s success. Failure is not starting at all. We are often our worst critics, and it’s up to us to give ourselves the mental boost that we deserve if we do falter from the path that we deem as successful.
After all, how many other people are out there doing [insert exercise here]? Likely not many.
In the past, I would have been near tears when I finished my run, knowing that I wouldn’t hit 20 miles like I had planned. This time? I gave myself a pat on the back, told myself that I did as much as I could, and my next 20 miler would make up for it.
And until then, I focus on learning from why that run went so bad. The lack of hydration (I lost four pounds while running! That means I lost a gallon of water. No wonder why I couldn’t push it!), the not letting my body rest while sick and the lack of preparation for a run in the sun.
How do you recover from a bad run or work out? What helps you recover?
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