Had a Bad Run? Here Are Some Reasons Why
You get suited up in your favorite gear. The weather is perfect, your favorite conditions. You get to your starting line, set all your digital devices to start and take off…. And hate every minute of your run.
You probably know the feeling.
Whether you’re an experienced marathoner or a newbie runner, everyone has days where the run just… sucks. Every step is torture, and you look to your time thinking “I must be at least 40 minutes in.” but it’s only been 10 and you have eternity to go. We all have those days, those runs and those feelings. They will come and go. These days can be brought on by many different factors. Here are a some of the most common reasons why you have a bad run.
Overtraining can lead to “hitting a wall” or when your body has no more glycogen in the tank to keep you going and you feel instantly exhausted. When you feel this happening during your runs, it’s time to scale back. Consider consulting a running coach or looking for a new running plan to follow. Getting burned out is discouraging and can leave you feeling low and frustrated. Try a new strategy to force yourself to not just constantly up miles, but mix in strength, speed and agility to support yourself when you do have to log those extra-long runs.
You need more recovery time.
No matter what type of exercise you’re partaking in, soreness is a result of training hard. It’s normal, but it’s necessary for you to rest. The general consensus is to give muscles in the same group 48 hours to recover to prevent injury. Mix in different forms of workouts to keep your body moving, but focus on different parts of the body to allow rest for the lower extremities that may be taking on the brunt of the running workout. Also try foam rolling for extra recovery. Foam rolling helps to break down muscle pain points and the lactic acid that builds up after a strenuous workout. Have one at home and roll whenever you have a few minutes for optimal recovery.
You’re not getting enough fuel.
Low blood sugar will leave anyone feeling depleted. If you’re not getting enough fuel for your workouts, then you will lack the energy to have a productive session where you feel focused and accomplished. To help prevent an empty tank, try a pre run carb-based small snack about an hour before your run. Keeping your body burning fuel and having reserves in the tank for the longer runs will keep your energy and your spirits up.
You just can’t be productive and be dehydrated with nearly anything you take on. It not only can sabotage a good running session but it slows your recovery, can cause headaches and overall body aches during and after a run (not to mention much more serious consequences for extreme dehydration). Properly hydrating before a run and replenishing your fluids after your session is imperative for healthy training.
You’re not getting enough sleep.
Lack of sleep also has a negative effect on recovery thus will have a negative effect on your ability to have a productive run following. It will also mess with your head. Lack of sleep leads to decrease cognitive thinking and overall irritability. You’ll get frustrated with things faster which could lead to giving up on the run all together. Make sleep a priority when training, and well, all the time for good self-care.
You need a break.
Sometimes you just flat our need a few days off from training. You need to give your body, mind and alarm clock a rest. Just like a vacation from work, occasionally a break from intense training is needed. It can be draining mentally, physically and emotionally to commit to hard training. It can also take a toll on your social life. Make sure you do a temperature check with yourself when in the midst of training. Are you excited about it? Are you letting it run your life? Do you need a few days to center yourself and remember why you’re doing this in the first place? Finding your motivation again can come from taking a few steps back to get some perspective on why you started in the first place.
You didn’t warm up.
Ah, the warm-up. This is something that everyone has skipped at one point or another, but like foam rolling, is something that is extremely beneficial when done consistently. To properly engage your mental and physical systems, especially before a long run, a warmup is imperative. To get the nervous system firing on the level it needs to be to go for multiple miles, a warm-up is a much easier way to get there as opposed to slugging through the first five miles then finally feeling human by the sixth (if you even have the patience to suffer through until then). Don’t sabotage yourself by skipping the warmup. Simple knee hugs, jumping jacks, dynamic stretches like leg swings, walking lunges, etc. will help you get ready and (willing) to take on those miles.
It’s just an off day.
Now, this isn’t an excuse for every bad run, so if you’re having multiple in a row for weeks upon weeks, see list above. However, every once in a while, you’re just going to have an off day. Maybe you ate something weird, maybe it’s really humid or super cold out. Maybe you have a lot on your mind and you can’t get to your running zen place to create the mental space needed for your run. Whatever the case may be, allow it to happen. Accept that some runs just aren’t great, and that’s okay. Being kind to yourself is necessary for any training program, and well, any goal at all. Go home, practice some self-care activities (take a long shower, listen to soothing music, get a great night’s sleep, etc.) and try again another day. As long as you keep trying and allowing yourself the ups and downs of training, you’ll get there, eventually.