Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



When Bad Runs Happen To Good People

It happens. But why are you feeling so bad? This is the checklist you need to go through.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

monica bad run

Bad runs happens to every runner. Yes, probably even Kara Goucher (I hope she is reading and chimes in to support my theory).

But when a bad run is happening to YOU, it is horrible. You might realize it right away or when you’re 4 miles away from home. But when the wheels start falling off, you can either focus on the pain or you can use it as a learning experience.

During the run…
If you are having trouble during a run, assess if you are just a little tired and can push through OR if you’re getting sick, over-trained, have an injury, or dealing with another serious issue. Do a honest assessment of your body and figure out if you should push through or cut it short.

Check yourself…
Check in with your head game. If your body is doing okay, but you are still having a particularly hard run, assess your motivation. Running burnout can be emotional as much as physical. If you are getting sick of your hobby, figure out ways to motivate yourself with a positive mantra or prize at the end of the run. Also consider doing a non-running activity or form of exercise for a few days. I always end up missing running when a take a little time off!

monica bad run 2

When your body says no…
Runners should become experts on their bodies. Tiny aches can come with the territory when you’re training for a race, but “injury pain” should be acknowledged in a serious way. Ignoring a potential or oncoming injury will only make it worse.

If it’s just a tiny blister or other less-than-urgent kind of issue, push through and stick with your workout plan.

When you can’t place it, but you just can’t get into the run…
This is probably the most common “bad run” issue. We all have days were the run is harder than usual. It’s hard to identify why, but the normal 6 miler we always do can feel extra long or challenging on a bad day.

1. Remember this is normal. It happens.

2. Learn from it.

  • Use this opportunity to review your training notes. Have you been training more than usual? Skipping a lot of runs? Increasing distance or speed?
  • Do a head to toe assessment of your body. Any particular reason you could be less than 100%?
  • Are you bored? This could be fixed with something as simple as a new running playlist. Or maybe you need a new goal to work towards. Other options include joining a running club, changing up your route or trying a new training plan.

No matter what the issue (as long as it’s not a 911 emergency) use your good runs to love and your bad runs to learn.

Happy Running!

More Problem-Solving Tips From Run Eat Repeat
Why You Should Make Pre-Long Run Rituals
What To Do When Your Workout Doesn’t Work Out
The Pros And Cons Of Foam Rolling