Chances are pretty good that if you’ve ever had a bad run (and if you’ve ever run, you’ve had at least one) you had no problem recognizing it. But that’s not going to stop me from describing the experience for you here. Deep down I’m probably just looking for sympathy–they do say misery loves company, don’t they?
In a recent post on a similar topic, Samantha Angela said she felt like Gumby. That is definitely one of the signs of a bad run, and because I couldn’t have put it better myself, I will just unabashedly credit her with this one. You will feel like Gumby, as though you have no control over any of your limbs, and certainly no skeletal system providing your body with some sort of solid framework. You will also be suffering from allergies, which will make the fact that you can literally see the pollen floating through the air feel like Mother Nature is just taunting you. You will be running into the wind no matter what direction you’re running in, leading you to feel like you may just break down and have a sneaky hate spiral moment. You will have a really difficult time finding a pace that your body seems to feel right for your body, and your left and right sides will feel wildly out of balance. You will shorten your stride, and you will lengthen your stride, but everything will feel awkward. Your shoes will feel wrong, your shorts will feel wrong, and your shirt will feel wrong. And those are just the physical signs.
The psychological signs are far worse!! You’ll begin to wonder if you’ll ever go into a race feeling like you can actually run the whole thing, and you’ll question why you’re even running in the first place. You’ll compare yourself to every other runner in the park and find some way in which you come up short. You’ll think that everyone you pass is laughing at you, whether it’s because of the way you look, how slow you’re running, or how silly that handheld water bottle you have is. You will think about all the ways in which you are not X enough: thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, fast enough. All the mean things anyone has ever said to you will come back to you and you won’t be able to chase those memories away no matter how hard you try. You will rue the day you ever started running, and you will want to stop with every step you take.
But you will slog through it. You will keep running because some day you want to get to the starting line of a race and know that you’re ready for it; because deep down you know that no one is laughing at you, and that comparing yourself to people you don’t even know is ridiculous; because at two miles things will feel awkward, but at three miles they’ll feel a bit better; because you know what it feels like to have a good run, and giving up would mean never having that feeling again; because running has saved your life on more than one occasion. More than anything, though, you will keep running because the alternative is stopping, and no matter how many bad runs you have, you never want to stop.