Almost every Tuesday, we start our run with our coach, Pat, asking how Saturday's run was. (Pat coaches triathletes on Saturdays instead of us.) One guy from our group always says, "No such thing as a bad run!" Pat always indicates that he doesn't agree with that statement.
Nor do I. In fact, I think it's a dangerous thing to tell yourself. Because sometimes you're going to have a bad run. You just are. And if you haven't made your peace with the idea that it happens from time to time, it can really discourage you.
Take Saturday, for instance. I had a nine mile run with my training group. Sheila, who I've been running with, warned me that this was the course they'd run eight miles on the week before and it had been HILLY. Which was not good news. Between the hiking the previous weekend and hill repeats on Thursday, my legs were pretty well shot. I felt it in my hamstrings by the top of the very first hill, less than a mile in.
And Sheila had been right - the hills just did not stop. I was able to hang in for about seven miles, when I told her to go ahead because I needed to walk. Generally, if I'm having a hard time running, it has more to do with my lungs than my legs, or a combination of the two. This time, the problem was entirely my legs and the extent to which they were just plain worn out. I had to walk quite a bit of the last two miles and finished almost ten minutes behind my pace.
It was a bad run. There's no convincing myself otherwise and why would I want to try? Because either I can believe that a bad run just happens sometimes or I can beat myself up about it and question whether I'll be able to make any of the long runs from here on out.
I cut my Sunday run from four miles to three and went to a class at the gym tonight called Yoga for Relaxation to get stretched out. This is a recovery week in our training plan, so we get to go back to seven miles on Saturday. Not only does this cut the mileage, but much more importantly for my purposes, we go back to a relatively flat course.
Most important for me though is just to do my best to put Saturday's run out of my mind. It was a bad run. They happen. Just like a day when I make bad decisions with food does not doom me to fail at weight loss and a day of being visibly impatient with kids doesn't make me a bad teacher. Sure, I need to learn the lessons (take a GU for a nine mile run, put the chips on a plate instead of eating out of the bag, take a deep breath before responding to a kid, among others) but then I need to move on.
So you had a bad day? What are you going to do about it?