It happens to all of us: running is going great and we are making progress towards our goals, times and next race, and then suddenly every run seems like a task. Every run seems like a struggle and every time it gets harder and harder.
When you have a series of bad runs, and every day it feels like a task to slog out the miles, it’s discouraging, frustrating, and sometimes makes you just completely down and depressed.
But regardless of how down it gets you, you have to keep a positive outlook and a happy face and try to find the good in the suffer-fest. Take solace in knowing you’re not alone and then consider one of these 5 ways to help you deal with your off run days. And in the meantime, put a smile on your face and get out the door – a run always helps your state of mind!
- Look at it as an opportunity for a change – I’m not saying of course, that after one bad run, you should throw in the towel on running and take up tennis, but repetitive runs below your time goals, which feel like a suffer-fest can be discouraging and make you want to give up anyway. Instead, see it as a chance to make a change: try a new sport, change up your route, distance or time of day you run, or even find some new running partners.
- Give yourself credit for doing it anyway – Most people who have a bad run, come back, throw their sneakers in the closet and don’t run again for another month. The fact that you keep going out, day after day, with the hope that it will improve and be better, and keep going even when your runs feel like crap, is worth a lot of credit. And in fact is worth more than not doing it at all. Give yourself the credit you deserve, and keep going, because it will get better!
- See it as areas for improvement – I know, it sounds cliche, but the areas where you keep coming up short may be the areas where you need to focus on. And it’s often the areas we like the least or find the hardest. For example, if you always have a bad run on the really hilly route near your house, and it always feels way harder than most of your other runs, it may be because you need to do some hill work. And maybe you don’t like hill work, and therefore hardly ever do it. Use your training journal to start keeping track of your workouts and workout types and take notice of whether there is a pattern in the ones that continuously seem to present as being more difficult or continuously turn out to be bad runs!
- Give yourself a break – Plain and simple, you need to take a break. Whether that is a week off, a few days off, or a full on non-running vacation, a string of bad runs can mean you are just physically and mentally exhausted in the whole running scheme and you need a proper break to get back to your best. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to do this if this is what it is asking for!
- Is it a sign of something else? – It’s true, you may just have an off day (or week), and a series of runs that just aren’t what you want them to be. But it could also be your body trying to tell you something else. Stress, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, lack of sleep, improper recovery or inadequate caloric intake can all be reasons why you would feel like your runs are suffering. Take a look at all of these areas of your life and make sure they are all up to standard to be able to run and perform and see if it makes a difference.