The Unexpected Virtues Of A Crappy Run

AJW's TaproomEarlier this week, like most days, I got out the door for my morning run. A few steps down the road, my legs felt heavy. As I rounded the first bend, my breathing was labored and my feet began to ache. Within the first mile I was ready to quit and walk back home. Ultimately, I slogged along for two more miles, returning to my house 30 minutes later feeling old, slow, and deflated.

I sat down in my living room, unlaced my shoes, and began to sulk. What the heck? I was rested, the weather was fine, and I’m not injured or overtrained. Was something wrong with me?

And, after a few more minutes of self-flagellation, I snapped out of it, “Andy,” I said to myself, “you just had a crappy run, that’s all. Put it behind you and get over it.”

The truth is, sometimes we have crappy runs. Some days just don’t go as well as others and in those times there are lessons to be learned, just like in those good times. For me, I took three things away from my recent crappy run:

1. Accept the bad stuff.

Let’s face it, things aren’t always perfect. Running teaches us that. There are days when it just doesn’t work out and accepting it is way better than fighting it. In fact, it’s really the only way to successfully move forward from one of those days when things are just off. Acceptance is always the first step toward progress.

2. Don’t be afraid to admit that things didn’t go well.

I’ll admit to being a relentless optimist, always trying to find the bright side in just about every aspect of life. But, the truth is, sometimes there is no real bright side and we need to be willing and able to name that and claim that. My crap run the other day had no good side and I need to be okay with that. Someday soon I’ll have another good run and all will be right with the world. Until then, it’s best to be open to the truth even if it hurts a little.

3. There’s not always an explainable reason for things.

After my crappy run, I spent time asking all kinds of why questions attempting to find justification for the badness. But in this case, and I suspect in many others, there was nothing really that I could point to in explaining it away. It was simply a bad day. Nothing more, nothing less. In my listening, I simply needed to allow that to be my justification, even if it felt a little shallow.

And so, in life as in running, there are some days we need to just accept, admit, and allow. Certainly we all hope for many more good days than bad. But what I learned earlier this week is that the bad stuff can be okay and can lead to more good stuff down the road. And maybe, in the midst of all that, I’ll continue to become better not in spite of it but because of it.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Long Trail Brewing Company Limbo IPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. Long Trail recently released an outstanding new IPA called Limbo. Packed with 80 IBUs and 7.6% ABV, Limbo is an old-school East Coast IPA reminiscent of early New England craft brews.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • When was the last time you had a bad run? Do you know what caused it, or does its source remain a mystery?
  • What good things have you learned from a run that went sour?

There are 6 comments

  1. Run GMD

    Always love to see your posts on Friday morning, AJW. I do love me some Long Trail, too. Thanks for the recommendation!

    “…accept, admit, and allow…” that’s the essence of it for me. When I search inside, I find that my “bad” runs happen if my expectations for the run exceed what the world and my body are able to provide me that day. “Bad” runs can be salvaged by embracing them rather than fighting against it.

    Accepting what the day has to offer.
    Admitting my expectations were too great.
    Allowing the day to unfold and provide me what it can.

    Admittedly, that’s easier said than done, and easier still when the stakes are lower. Still, it isn’t settling for less. “Embracing the suck” is an openness and freedom to accept all that is offered to me on my run that day.

  2. Jon

    One thing I remind myself after “bad” runs is that in order to have good runs, you HAVE to have the bad runs..for that is what makes the good, good.

  3. Pixie Ninja

    This is exactly what I needed! Thank you AJW! I too have been having a few sour runs lately. This past Tuesday I had one of the worst runs in a long time. It was horrible…everything about it just sucked. I ranted during the run, after the run, and even the day after the run thinking why was this run so wretched? Well I had a good long talk to myself and a wake up call…it’s sometimes attitude. I was in a bad mood that day and I allowed everything to bother me on that run. So I decided the next run I would make sure to go into the run with a good attitude…and you know what it worked!! I had one of the best runs in a long time. It’s great taking the good with the bad. Cheers!!

  4. Henry Bickerstaff

    I believe in the one mile rule. If I still feel crappy after running one mile, I turn around and go home and tell myself tomorrow is a new day and tomorrow will be better.

  5. Joe Horn

    Bad runs are brutal and depressing. Especially when before the run you feel on top of the world. I have been having them about once every 7-10 days. I train for half and full ironmans also, so im used to training on tired legs. Looking back on my run journals usually gives me insight on my crap runs. especially if I had a hard bike or wts. the day before. Whats intriguing to me is if I take 2 full days off running and feel fully rested Its like its to much time off and ill have a crap run, so what gives. I have also found that if I work through this bad pattern Ill have an AH_HA running day And Ill get some insight and my form will improve and Ill become a better runner through it all. I would love to here from everyone and how they cope with this.

    [Published by Bryon Powell on behalf of Joe Horn.]

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