Much like the rest of life, there are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days out there on the trail or road even in the gym, swimming pool or on the bike.
This raised a couple of questions: first, how do you deal with the bad day during the run; second, how do you even get out there when you know it is going to be a struggle.
I had this very thing happen a few weekends ago. It’s one thing to deal with a bad day during a short run, but to get through a long run? Ugh, it’s tough. My weekend called for back to back long runs of 27 miles and 25 miles. I chose to do my 27 mile run with a lot of climbing. It took me a lot longer than I had planned, but the run was beautiful. On Sunday, I chose a flat trail. I knew it would be a tough run from the moment I woke up. It was hard to get out of bed. And even as I was getting ready, I thought about going back to bed. I was behind anyway.
I made it to the trail about twenty minutes late. It took a while to get warmed up and I struggled the whole way. I fell hard at mile 23 and sat in the middle of the trail wanting to quit for the day. I nearly had myself convinced I could just sluff off the last four miles. But I got up and finished.
So what did I do to get myself out the door? I have a morning routine and I stuck to it. Even while my mind was saying go back to bed, the rest of me was going through the motions of getting ready to go. I had packed my hydration pack and set out my clothes the night before, which didn’t leave me a lot of time to think about not going in the first place.
Each time the thought of not going came up, I reminded myself of all the times I had been tired and run anyway. I felt great once I got going and was always glad I had finished my run. I reminded myself how much I love being on the trail in the morning hours and listening to the forest wake up. I told myself I could take a nap after my run if I needed it. Once I was out the door, there was no turning back.
I kept going on the trail despite the low energy, low mood, and fall by reminding myself I would be happy I finished. I told myself it was good for me to struggle through long runs on occasion because I would struggle at some point during a race and I needed to be able to deal with it and keep going. And not just keep moving forward, but keep running a pretty good pace. I knew this would be one of those runs I would rely on in the future when I was having a difficult time. I also know from other difficult runs, that the sun always comes up. In other words, it gets better if you just keep going.
Everyone has hard days where their energy and mood are not conducive to a long run. Remind yourself of how great you feel when you are out there and after the run. Remember hard runs make you stronger mentally and physically. Most importantly, the sun always rises.