I’ve waited a few days to write this post, just to get a little distance and perspective.
I had a terrible run last Thursday.
I wanted to write a blog post as soon as I got through the door, but I was in such a terrible mood that it seemed inadvisable.
I hadn’t run at all since the previous Monday, which had been a fab run with a friend. I don’t know about you, but after a good run like that, I tend to put too much pressure on myself for the next one to be just as good. So I put off going again. I skipped my Wednesday run with work colleagues in favour of going to a Latino Fit class, which I missed because I got stuck in traffic. The universe conspired against me then, with a few days where everything went wrong. You know they say things come in threes? I think this household had three sets of threes…
So by the time I was ready to run again, it had been nine days. I spent all day in work thinking about the run, which, since I don’t like to run alone, Alex had agreed to join me for. I knew it wasn’t going to be a good run. It had been too long since the last one, and last week was so hot. Still, I was excited to get back out there and when I got home from work I squeezed into my running gear and off we went to the park.
And it was shit. Right from the start, it was a struggle. I can’t say how much of it was down to the gap between runs and how much was down to the weather, which made me feel as though there was no air. I couldn’t fill my lungs; I gasped and wheezed all the way around.
I’ve been trying to improve my mental attitude and become more positive. (Readers who know me are now laughing in disbelief.) I ran telling myself I could do it, and I was stronger than my negative thoughts. Still, at the half mile point, when I hit a small incline, I uttered the words “sod it” and walked. I started to run again when I caught some of my breath back, but stopped halfway up the only hill on the route, and resumed running on the way back down. It wasn’t so bad for the next half mile or so. Somehow, I kept going. But I was slow. So slow. I apologised countless times for how slow and crap I was. The worst of it was that Alex hadn’t run with me in a long time, and this first run together since I re-started running (for the umpteenth time) was so much worse than all the others I’d done recently. All the way around the course I compared it to previous efforts, and concluded that it had never felt so hard. Clearly, the positive mental attitude was working…
Running up the final incline, I had to stop and wrestle my inhaler out of my running belt. I walked up that hill, puffing on it, and in the distance saw my usual running buddy. She was with a friend and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. I envied them, and I was embarrassed at the fact that I was walking and not enjoying myself. I ran the final stretch, got to the end (we were running the parkrun course) and wanted to cry.
I looked at Runkeeper. 3.27 miles in 41:14. 12:38 min/mile.
I compared it to the excellent Monday run. 3.35 miles in 38:42. 11:34 min/mile.
Awful, awful, awful.
I told Alex I wouldn’t make him go running with me again. After all, he’s a good runner, and fast.
I wasn’t a happy bunny all evening. My lungs hurt, my pride hurt, and between wheezes and attempts to cheer myself up, I spent a lot of time staring at Runkeeper.
I looked back over recent runs and concluded that it wasn’t as horrendously slow as I thought. My Wednesday runs after work are always slower than that. Most of the runs I do with my running buddy, including parkruns, are only a little quicker.
Now, having had more time to think about it, I can see why it felt so awful.
I was putting pressure on myself to be better than was reasonable, given the gap between runs and the fact that the weather was against me.
I pushed myself too hard. Normally, when I go with my running buddy, we chat during the run. On Thursday, I could barely get out a couple of words at a time. I wasn’t running at my comfortable pace. Whether that was because I was desperate to ‘do better’ or because I didn’t want to be too slow because I was with Alex, I don’t know. Maybe a little of both.
And I spent the whole time beating myself up about being slow and useless and unfit. Normally, even when it’s a difficult run, I focus on the positives. The lovely park I run in, the fact that I’m out there and doing it at all, that kind of thing.
So Thursday was a bad day. But it’s not the end of the world. I got through it, despite wanting to give up and walk, and despite wanting to burst into tears at several points. My next run will be better, and I’ve been reminded of a few things not to do when I go out there.
Do you think a bad run is better than no run at all?
What’s your strategy for getting over a disappointing, discouraging, or just plain bad run?