Bad run

What makes a bad run a bad run?  I’m sure every runner can agree on what a bad run is overall, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that everyone defines a bad run differently.  One person’s bad run may be someone else’s mediocre run, or possibly even good run.  I know that for me, a bad run definitely has a recognizable set of characteristics, and many of them were, unfortunately, rearing their ugly heads during the run I had today.

The past few weekends have been pretty difficult for me.  I’m going through a pretty stressful time, and even though I don’t like my job, not having the structure of the workday can be really difficult for me.  For the past several weeks, the only thing I’ve actually done on the weekends is go running.  I can’t remember the last time I did anything remotely social.  I’m fortunate in that I get a lot of social interaction at work and I live with my fiancé so I’m not completely alone.  The weekends, though, I’ve basically been staying in and only going outside when I decide it’s time to run.  I didn’t think of this weekend as being exceptional in any way.  Well, I guess I am a bit more depressed than I have been.  But I didn’t really think that the running would be all that difficult.  Yesterday I did 6.5 miles, and today I planned on doing 10-11.  This would be the final long run on my schedule before the marathon.

For whatever reason, I started thinking negatively the second I began running.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m really struggling with my body image and unhealthy eating habits lately.  Today, in my capri tights and the shirt I’ve worn for almost every long run for the past sixteen weeks, I felt like a sausage trying to burst out of its casing.  Or at least I felt like that’s what I looked like.  My pace was uneven, and by the second mile I wanted to just give in.  “What difference does it make if I hit even my minimum mileage this week?  I haven’t for the past few weeks, and I’ve probably already blown it for the marathon,” I found myself thinking as I ran up a hill I’d done a million times before without a problem.  I stopped for a few minutes and tried to give myself a pep talk.  I reminded myself I could do this, that I would have to work to keep the negative thoughts at bay, but that it was within the realm of possibility.  As I stood by the side of the road in the super crowded park, I thought I might start crying.  Instead, I started my watch back up and got moving again.  The negative thinking started right back up immediately.  “I know I won’t even be able to finish this marathon.  Why do I even bother?  It’s like a joke, doing this.  I am not going to get faster, and this will never get any easier.  I don’t know why I waste so much time putting myself through this.”

By the time I hit four miles, I was really pushing just to keep going and having the hardest time quieting my negative attitude.  I really didn’t want to give up, because I felt like in giving up I would be letting the thinking that was just trying to tear me down win.  But after three more miles, I felt like I could no longer take it.  I’d had enough of weaving in between walkers and bikers who were barely paying attention to what they were doing or where they were going.  I ended up running behind a girl who looked like she was going in slow motion but was still ahead of me (and who had passed me to get there).  I felt defeated and deflated.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep fighting for another three miles.  So I just stopped, walked to the subway, and went home.

So what was so bad about this?  It’s not that I didn’t hit my mileage goal, although I do wish I had.  It’s that I kept myself from doing it by basically thinking my way out of it.  I became my own worst enemy during this run, and when I tried instead to be my own best friend, I came up short.  It’s not that I was undertrained or physically unprepared for this run, it’s just that everything negative going on in my head got totally out of control and ultimately, I felt overwhelmed by it, to the point where I felt there was nothing I could do.  Obviously in addition to continuing to work on my strength, stamina, and speed as a runner, I’m going to have to work on my attitude.

This run has got me pretty bummed.  I know enough to be able recognize that the bad runs make the good runs even better, but sometimes that can be very cold comfort.  More than anything, I hope that by the time next Sunday rolls around, I can be a little bit more successful on concentrating on positive, rather than negative, thoughts.

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7 comments

  1. Bien d’accord avec la “relativité” de ce qu’est une mauvaise course, et aussi avec le fait qu’il y a des limites à considérer les mauvaises courses comme des rehausseuses de bonnes. Peut-être que c’est un peu ridicule et que ça ne fonctionne que pour moi, mais quand je ne me sens pas la force mentale de courir la distance que je me suis fixée, je fais toujours la même chose: je me déjoue moi-même. Disons, par exemple, que je voulais faire 8Km, mais qu’avant de sortir, je me dis que je ne peux pas et que ce sera trop difficle. Alors je fixe un nouvel objectif, à la baisse, disons 5K, et je me dis que si je me sens mieux à ce moment-là, je ferai plus. Évidemment, je sais que je me déjoue, mais c’est comme une manière de m’autoriser à ne pas atteindre le 8Km prévu. Il arrive que j’arrête à 5Km, mais il arrive aussi souvent que je continue. Dans le premier cas, je ne suis pas trop déçue et dans le second, je suis doublement satisfaite. Mais je suis peut-être un peu bizarre…

    1. C’est une bonne technique, à mon avis. Je le fais de temps en temps, moi aussi, et je me demande toujours si je suis la seule à se motiver de cette manière!

  2. Well, I know how awful it is to feel like a sausage that’s about ready to burst out of the casing because that’s how I felt yesterday. It’s just a horrible feeling! And I felt that way yesterday, but this morning I woke up and felt great! So fortunately that feeling does go away and doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe it has to do with fluid retention or something like that. And it’s so hard to run and keep a positive attitude when you feel that way. Same goes for running in a crowded park with people who are so self-absorbed. But remember this, you are training for a marathon and after that marathon, you will be done with this for a long time. You’re almost there now, you can do it, and you will do it – just point yourself in the right direction and go. That’s what I tell myself every time I do something that I deem is hard for me. Such as getting out of bed and going to work 🙂 As for doing nothing every weekend but running, that will also probably change after this marathon. The Holidays are upon us! After the marathon, it’s on to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lots of excitement lies ahead. I know this sounds corny and feel free to delete this if you want – I won’t be offended. 😀

  3. Negative self talk is so hard… we’re definitely harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever dream of being. Do you run with an ipod? Maybe if you make a playlist that’s full of positive and encouraging songs, to bust out “in case of emergency”?

    1. I don’t normally run with an ipod, but I like the idea of having an encouraging playlist. I definitely know when I’m having a bad day, and it would be great to have the option of taking my ipod with me just in case I’m in need of a musical boost! Thanks, Jill, for the great idea!

  4. I think that’s an awesome idea! I take my ipod when I am on the treadmill. I actually have a set of “running” music that really encourages me.

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