Dealing with the Bad Run

The Bad Run

Ever had a bad run? I mean a run that really sucks? One of those where you doubt your ability to run even one mile.

This was me the other day – 7 miles with heavy legs running slower than I have for a long time.  I wasn’t ill and I’m not injured. This run sent me into the dreaded downward thought spiral. Doubt. Fear. A bit of an existential crisis. Yep, it’s all there.

But over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about how to deal with runs like this and try to switch my headspace from the emotional to the rational. It becomes a little conversation in my head and goes a little like this –

Thoughts on dealing with the bad run


I can’t do this

Now that’s an interesting thought, ‘Why can’t I do this?’ – Do I need to tweak my training, my diet or is it just on off-day – everyone has them.

My legs are tired but I’ve upped the miles. I’m bound to have an off day every now and then.


Who am I kidding running another race? This time a 50K

I remember marathon 1, a frigging disaster, but I finished. Marathon 2 still not great but a lot better and a PB by 35 mins. If I could get through those, I can get through this. And we’ve all had shit we’ve had to deal with in our lives, this is minor in comparison.


I’m so unfit

Hmmmm, how I love this one! This year I’ve completed a few half marathons (including over the hills in Devon), a 20 miler and a marathon. And I started with a really low base fitness with Parkrun feeling like an effort on 1 Jan. Yep, only a runner would think this way. It’s crazy talk.


This is a waste of time

Building up the miles is hard work and sometimes it’s going to suck. I’m doing this because I love running, though sometimes not so much, and everything and everybody it’s brought into my life. I can’t imagine my life now without it.


Just give up on the bad run

Bugger that. I think this might be where my stubborn streak comes in.



This isn’t always so easy to do when you’re having a bad run. I let myself be a real grump for a while, acknowledged that I was feeling how I was feeling and then went through this process. And you know what? Within a few hours after that bad run I started feeling a little better.

Some runs suck and for me, it’s happening a little more often simply because the miles are building and I’m getting tired. That’s sometimes just the way it goes.

So if you have a bad run, it happens. I’m sure it happens to all runners at some point. The important thing is how you respond – the most important is getting the next run done, the one after that and the one after that.


How do you deal with runs that don’t go to plan?


(Updated June 2017)

12 thoughts on “Dealing with the Bad Run

  1. I just draw a line under that run. And tell myself don’t be silly think if what you achieved and kick myself up the bun and go out the next day after a good night sleep xx

  2. Hi Sophie! What you just described epitomizes a post I’m working on about our inner chimps (research from the chimp paradox.) Well done for thinking with perspective, it definitely helps the tough patches…not long now 🙂

    1. Thanks Darren! I look forward to reading your post. The main thing for me is to try and keep this in perspective – I can only do so much in the next 7 weeks, there will be runs that don’t go to plan but working hard on not beating myself up about it! Cheers and happy running!

  3. I just tell myself that it is a bad run. It sucks but it happens. Often a bad run is followed by a really good one and then you remember why you love running. Hope your next one is magical.

  4. Great blog – I can identify with all of your comments! I had a really bad interval session at the beginning of March and all of those negative emotions reeled through my mind. I’ve been sidelined ever since – turns out it was a virus working on me.

    Now, of course, I have the battle of trying to rest and not train in order to allow recovery… cue more frustration and negative thoughts! Who’d be a runner, eh?

    1. Thank you and I’m pleased it struck a cord, it means I’m not completely insane! And I hope you’re well and back to training soon. The only plus side of having the frustration and negative thoughts around not being able to run is that’s when you know you really are a runner!

      1. Very true – makes you appreciate it all the more and the crave the hard training days again. Hoping I’ll be back in a few more weeks. Good luck with the marathon – when it gets really tough, just think of all of us unable to run at the moment and push on! 🙂

        1. Thanks and I hope you’re back to it soon – let me know how you get on. And I will push on – I know how incredibly fortunate I am to have a place again at London. I’ll also be keeping in mind the charity I’m running for – running for those women and girls who can’t because of gender inequalities! I’m looking forward to it! Cheers!

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