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Why Do Bad Workouts Happen To Good Runners?

You're on top of your training, things are going great...and you have a random bad workout. But why?

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5 Possible Reasons For A Bad Workout

Experiencing a bad run or a bad workout, seemingly out of nowhere, can be one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. As runners, we put so much time and effort into our training and often expect certain outcomes as a result. A bad workout can take the wind right out of your sails and leave you questioning what you did wrong. Of course, sometimes the answer to why this happens is simply “nothing.” Bad workouts and bad runs happen—it’s all part of the game. But a string of bad workouts or the beginnings of a bad pattern might mean it’s time to reevaluate your routine. Any of the following might be the reason you’re feeling weak or rundown on the run!

Related: 9 Stages Of A Really Bad Run

You’re not sleeping enough.

Let me guess: you’ve heard this one before? While we’d all like to catch a few extra z’s from time to time, sleep has to be a priority when you’re training hard. Just because you can make it through the day on six hours of sleep doesn’t mean that your body has enough time to actively rest and recover from your tough workouts. Do your best to make time for a solid eight hours at least a few times each week–even if it is just after a hard workout.

You’re not fueling properly.

Eating right isn’t just about eating the right amount, although that can certainly make a big difference in how you feel. First of all, make sure you are eating enough calories to fuel the type and amount of exercise you are doing. If weight loss is one of your goals, that’s fine–but don’t skimp too much on your meals or you won’t have enough energy to finish your workouts. Use an online calculator to approximate your energy expenditure based on your activity level. Second, it’s important to eat the right type of food. If you consistently eat foods that are high in sugar or other low-quality calories (like fast food or other junk food), you may “crash” during your workouts due to variations in your blood sugar. Work on incorporating more nutritious foods into your diet, such as lean meats (think sirloin steak, chicken or fish) and vegetables with unprocessed carbs like brown rice or sweet potatoes.

You’re doing too many tough workouts in a row.

If you’re struggling with low energy  during your tough workouts, the issue may be that you are “going hard” too often. Matt Fitzgerald, running coach and author of 80/20 Running, recommends doing 80 percent of your mileage at an easy pace and the other 20 percent of your training at moderate to high intensity. Make sure you sandwich a hard effort, such as a track workout or long run, with runs at an easier pace or off days; don’t do them back-to-back. The same goes for strength training; working the same muscle group two days in a row does not allow the muscles time to rebuild and get stronger.

You’re leaving out the strength training.

You’ve heard us say it before, but we’re going to say it again anyway: if you’re not making time for strength training as part of your training plan, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Strength training doesn’t have to mean joining a gym, getting a personal trainer and lifting super heavy weights. Try any of these 3 bodyweight strength training routinesyou don’t need anything but yourself! By focusing on strengthening your core, working small stabilizing muscles and increasing your overall strength, you’ll be able to power through tough workouts and safely increase your mileage and speed over time.

It’s just not your day.

Hey, it happens! Bad runs happen, as do bad strength training sessions, bad swims, bad rides…you get the idea. There isn’t always a tangible reason for why we don’t get the results we want. All you can do is shake it off and try again tomorrow!


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