The Unexpected Virtues Of A Crappy Run

AJW writes about what can be learned from a bad run.

By on August 4, 2017 | Comments

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?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.