Believe it or not, you shouldn't just focus on your good runs.
There isn’t a runner alive who hasn’t at some point had a terrible run.
The type of run that makes you want to hang up your running shoes for a while, possibly life, because really you just suck at this thing called running.
Your legs felt heavy, your breathing labored, you couldn’t find your stride. On this run (or runs?!) you didn’t hit the distance you wanted, or pace, or both. Ugh, why do I run again?
You wonder if your time has passed. Is it time to throw in the proverbial towel?
You likely don’t suck at running, and you have more that likely been at this point before. You have forgotten or chosen not to remember.
When I have a bad run, I put it out of my mind as fast as I can. For years I didn’t keep a running log; I didn’t want to remember runs that didn’t go as planned, or weeks I didn’t hit the mileage. I didn’t want to think about the times I had to skip a long run and wondered if I should quit on the idea of another marathon all together. If I didn’t write it down, did it even happen?!
These days I have a coach, so I record all of my runs in a log. So far I’ve had my fair share of failed runs. Runs where my legs did not want to move, runs where it felt like my lungs just couldn’t get enough air, runs where I struggled to complete 4 miles. Runs where I started a workout of 800 repeats and hit stop instead of lap only to realize my mistake over 800 meters into the workout, talk about discouraging.
Now that I’m recording things, it’s easier to go back and look at these runs. I could dwell and get down on myself only noticing the bad runs, not paying as much attention to the runs I felt like I was floating on air and could run forever.
Here are some of my recent entries on runs that didn’t go my way:
Last mile was fast because I was about to cry because I felt terrible and wanted to be home. I’m upset about the past two runs, but I’m not going to dwell. Next week will be better.
This run was much harder than it should have been. My breathing felt off from the first mile. I am really proud of myself for getting it done.
Running is a mind game. Your mind can take you to places that will either help or hurt your running. Lift yourself up even on runs that don’t go your way. You don’t have to be modest or beat yourself up in a training log. Encouragement can go along way, even if it’s just from your past self to your future self.
My problem lately is that I’ve done such a good job at only remembering the epic runs, like the year I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and then backed it up with a 6th place finish at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, that I have forgotten that I’ve been at this place before.
Don’t let the mind games that are supposed to help you, inadvertently hurt you. It’s one thing to put bad runs out of your head, it’s another thing to think that you have only had great runs up until now.
You have been here before. Here may be a series of bad runs. Here may be where you have taken a break running. Either way I think you should lace up your shoes and try again. You don’t get to the good runs—the great runs—by quitting now.