Throw it all Away Because of a Bad Run? Yeah, Right!

I was soaking my muscles in a hot bath tonight while doing a lot of overthinking. I keep going back to Saturday’s run. Should I be proud of myself? Or should I be upset, and continue to let the discouraging thoughts roll in. Maybe some of you have been in my shoes before. I’m always excited before a run. All of my successful runs pump me up and keep me wanting more. But it’s the bad ones that drive me crazy. One bad run can creep through my mind for weeks. Saturday was one of the worst runs I have ever completed in a very long time.

I could sit here and beat myself up about it, or I could learn from it.
So let me give you some background on this “Saturday” run.

I had been excited for this run all week. This was our longest run since our half marathon training began, so I made sure to hydrate, stay positive, lay off any hardcore workouts during the week, and rest the night before.

We decided to run one of hilliest routes in Charlotte. If you live in Charlotte and need a new route that’ll send you into a cardiac arrest, head over to the neighborhoods around the Ballantyne Country Club. You’ll go up and down the entire route. The longest flat streak you’ll run is around 0.3. I figured this would be a great challenge, and hopefully make the next run easier. Meighan and I have run the long distances before, but it’s been months. We also never ran the long distance on such a challenging route.

We started out at Corporate Park. I have no problem sharing these running routes on the internet because I don’t plan on running them willingly ever again. I used to walk this route a couple of times a week when I first moved to Charlotte, so I knew what I was getting myself into. I would never have imagined running it back in the day. That was when I was recovering from runner’s knee.

Sometimes when you go into a run thinking it’s going to be the worst one yet, but you have to do it anyways, it usually turns out to be the best run ever. I went into this run thinking it was going to be amazing, but I learned that wasn’t the case in the first four minutes. I try not to judge a run until after the first ten minutes, but there was no fighting the facts. I felt awful. Yes, the first five minutes of our run was straight up a hill, but something else was off.

I knew that I could push through and do this. It became a time game, and I started counting down the minutes until mile eight appeared. If it weren’t for Meighan cheering me on, I don’t think I would have continued. I know I wouldn’t have continued. I didn’t want to let her down either.
We finally finished running through the intense back neighborhoods. On mile five, something strange happened. My vision was fuzzy, I was slightly dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out. I felt like God was telling me to take a break because as soon as it happened, we hit our first stop light. We usually run back and forth until the light changes, but I had to take three minutes to pull myself together. This was the first time we had ever taken a “break” before. I wasn’t going to quit, but I was going to listen to my body and just take a few minutes to breathe. As soon as the light changed, we headed back out on our run. We only had three miles left, and there was no way I was going to quit. I wanted to, believe me!
 
My pace was much slower, but there was nothing I could do about it. At this point, I didn’t care if my pace was eleven minutes. I just wanted to finish the mileage. What if this happened during my half? Quitting wasn’t an option. When we hit mile six, we found a water fountain. I wasn’t expecting the water to be as cold as it was! It felt amazing. I hydrated up and headed back out for the next two miles. They felt like iternity.

And then mile eight. This is when I realized how strong the mind is. If you can somehow train yourself to be your own coach, you’ll be great at anything. The voice in my head was making me and breaking me at the same time. I just need to learn how to turn off the “breaking me” part.

My knee started to sting at the end. I’m praying this isn’t related to runner’s knee. I’m hoping the hills were the culprit, and I’m doing everything I can to baby it and make sure the pain doesn’t come back.

When we finished, we started stretching, took our traditional post-run selfie, and headed to the car for water! I honestly have the best running partner in the world. She went with the flow and allowed me to pace. She let me know that we could stop at any time, while encouraging me to stay strong. I don’t know how I got so lucky!

So fuel. I thought I’d try something new before my run this week and that was probably a bad idea. The last meal worked, so why not try it again? Well, I’m not always the brightest bulb. I went with a protein banana shake with spinach instead. SO maybe that is to blame?  Who knows!
 
Even though this was one of the worst runs, I’m still proud of myself. I didn’t quit. It may not have been impressive, but I still finished, and that is all that matters. That was my only goal, and I completed it. Three miles were my long runs last year, and I never would have imagined being at this level. No way I’m going to let this set me back.

It’s scary to think that in forty days, I’ll be running 13.1 miles, but I’m still confident that I can do it. I think having that in the back of my mind made me even more nervous about the “failed” run. I’m not going to let some stupid long run discourage me though. I’m thinking back on all the great runs I had in the past, and those pump me up again. Running isnt always as glamourous and cheery as Instagram runners make it look. I’m usually smiling in pictures because it’s over with!

You must know that BAD runs are going to happen.Even your favorite athletes have “off” performances. We are human, duh! When you finish something, be proud of yourself, and keep pushing forward!

It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!”

Questions for you! 

  1. How do you keep a bad run/workout from discouraging you?
  2. Do you have any “bad” running experiences to share?
  3. Any advice for me!?

Read about my relationship with running.

Comments

  • Laura

    I wish that a bad run was the most upsetting thing in my life right now. You are a lucky girl! 🙂

    Reply to Laura
  • Niki

    I am FAR from being a medical expert but the 1st thing I noticed about the bath tub picture of your legs were that they’re 2 different colors. And then I thought about the knee pain and swelling of your legs you have been experiencing. Have you talked with a doctor about Bursitis? On a happier note I’ve been following your blog for what feels like forever now and absolutely love it! I’ve tried so many new and healthy foods because of you! You should just add motivational speaker to your resume!

    Reply to Niki
    • Taralynn McNitt

      I’ve never heard of that! Hoping it was just the filter in the photo that made my legs two different colors. I’m looking at them now and they are the same…I THINK lol But i’ll look into it. Thanks!

      I’m assuming the knee pain was a runner’s knee flare up. I never used to rest the hurt knee, but now I follow procedure!

      Thank you for the kind words about my blog and you have no idea how happy that makes me feel! I have a new post coming later today/tomorrow morning! xo xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • debbie in alaska

    When I was training for my half a few years ago, the absolute worst run was a 10 miler that nearly killed me. I had parked my car at the end of the out and back loop so there was no way I could stop, even if I wanted to. I was in tears by the time I got to my car. All that to say … I totally rocked the half. No pain. No wall. And I even sprinted the last 1/8 mile and felt amazing. So fear not! One bad run does not make a bad half.

    Reply to debbie in alaska
  • Brittney

    I had a bad run yesterday too… it was soooo hot and humid in Texas. I was tired and hurting at mile 2…I finished a full marathon 6 weeks ago…how am I tired at mile 2?!?! I remembered some very good advice I was given not too long ago… run the mile you are in. So thats what I did… Can I get through mile 2? Yes! Now, can I get through mile 3? Yes! And so on!

    Reply to Brittney
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Our bodies are funny. Also CONGRATS on your marathon. I WILL NEVER. lol You are a rockstar. I love the idea of running the mile you are in! Never heard of that one.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Amber

    I’m so thankful that you shared this! As someone who is getting back into running, it is important for me to remember not to get too discouraged and just keep going 🙂

    Reply to Amber
  • Vanessa

    This post comes just at the right time! Three weeks back I had two awful runs in a row. While I normally run around 5k, I was tired, dizzy and weak after just one and had to take several walking breaks to run the 1 kilometer back to my house. I just blamed it on bad health, stopped running for a bit and went to a doctor. But turned out I am all healthy so it might have been because all the stress I was going through then. But this week I wanted to give it a fresh start and pick myself up again. So I just came back from a slow 2.5k run (I am actually still in my running clothes while reading this). It felt amazing and I am so proud of myself for going! And I hope that this will also give me the energy to pick up myself in other areas of my life again 🙂

    Reply to Vanessa
    • Taralynn McNitt

      I think stress can totally do that to us. I know when I’m having stressful weeks my body just shuts down. Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m so happy to hear that you are healthy and kicking butt on your runs!!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Sarah

    I have this happen a lot with my strength training. Some days, I can do more reps with heavier weights, and other days, I need to go down a weight. It can be so frustrating! However, we can’t be 100%, 100% of the time. We have bad days in everything that we do, just like we have great ones. Keep up the positive mindset!

    Reply to Sarah
  • Teresa

    This resonates so much with me especially the last few weeks as I train for my first 8K. It’s so strange that you can have completely different runs only a week apart and the mileage not be totally different. In fact, sometimes my 4 mile runs are better than my 2, and vice versa.

    This past week I has an especially bad run and if I am being honest – one of your recent posts about your upcoming Half kept me motivated (and you mentioned the same thing above). I actually said out loud during the run “It doesn’t matter if it takes 11 minutes a mile, just finish it”

    What also keeps me motivated and my advice to you is to think about how cool the swag is at the end of my race 😉 I find signing up for races with fun themes and gear keeps it fun! This year the Bank of America Shamrock shuffle 8K is giving out sweet shirts, a hat, and a medal. I hope to sign up for a race downtown at the end of the summer which is centered around the Chicago Bears. Everyone gets a fake mustache to wear like former coach Mike Ditka had. =)

    I know you’re going to kill your next big Saturday run and I look forward to reading the recap post!

    Reply to Teresa
    • Taralynn McNitt

      I agree. I feel like there are so many people out there who have PERFECT runs all the time and I wonder if I’m cut out for it. I know I can do it though and I have to get those thoughts OUT of my head.

      I love that my post helped motivate you. Believe me, your comments help me!

      I loved the Chicago races when I was there (watching them lol) they have an amazing running community and fitness community! I used to go to pilates in the park! I hope to visit this summer.

      xo xo thanks

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Linda @ The Fitty

    I just tell myself to do 20 minutes of running even on days I don’t feel like it! If after 20 minutes I want to quit, I let myself. Luckily, when I had that feeling just on Monday (yesterday), I actually got lost on a new route and HAD to run back and stay on the pavement longer and by the end of it I was feeling pumped–and get this–I DID 77 MINUTES?! WHAT??!! I haven’t done that long of a run in like…a month. WOW.

    As Dorey says, just keep swimming! Err, RUNNING! Even on bad run days!

    Reply to Linda @ The Fitty
    • Taralynn McNitt

      WOW! That is great Linda. You are ALWAYS so dedicated and I love that.

      Dorey always knows whats up! xo Hope you are having a wonderful week!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Alyssa

    So glad you shared this. A bad run can really discourage you, so it’s nice to see I’m not alone. Do you have a pace goal for your half? I am running my first 10k mid-April and I’d like to run 10-minute miles. I can run 4 miles at a 10-minute pace, so I just need a bit more endurance for the last 2 I think. If not, I’d like to stay under 10:15.

    Reply to Alyssa
    • Taralynn McNitt

      I definitely do NOT have a pace goal. It would be a dream to keep all my miles under ten, but this is my first half and all I care about is finishing it WHILE RUNNING the entire time. There are runs where I can run 8 minutes miles and some days a 10 is all I’ll get to. It’s never about the time! 🙂

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Molly

    Trust me when I say you’re going to do amazing on your half. You’ve put so much more training into it than I ever had with any of the ones I’ve ran (I’ve done 8 so far). The longest run I’ve ever done before any of my half’s was 10 miles. The endorphins and adrenaline will help you get through the final 3.1. Promise. It’s going to be such an amazing experience and yes you may have a moment along the course where you are asking yourself why in the world you signed up for this or why would you ever want to do another one….but as soon as you cross that finish line you will be ready to sign up for your next one. Runners are a strange breed 😉

    Reply to Molly
  • Haley

    I am so happy you shared this. I always get discouraged thinking everyone is a better runner than me. Happy to know I’m not alone on this.

    Reply to Haley
  • Bethany @LuluRuns

    Oh my goodness- that sounds like a HARD run, but you totally dominated by finishing!
    As a runner, I’ve had quite a few bad runs and usually if I analyze my run enough I can figure out why and try to adjust for the next time. However, more than that, it’s the countless good and even great runs that keep me motivated to keep running + the post run endorphins.
    I agree with you, Insta and social media can make you feel like it’s a rarity to have a bad run. In reality though, I think (and know from experience) bad runs happen way more often that we see on social media!
    Proud of you girl- you are doing so great!

    Reply to Bethany @LuluRuns
  • Anonymous

    You’re a warrior for finishing!

    Reply to Anonymous
  • Virjinia

    Bad runs will happen. Every time I attempt long runs on treadmills, it never ends well. I can never get in my rhythm or catch my breath. It’s really weird. I do my best to get outside and do long runs. I’ve taken walk breaks but don’t let it discourage me. Just try to figure out what was the culprit this time (probably hills) and try to adjust for the next run. You’re strong and I am confident that you’ll complete the marathon with no problem!

    Reply to Virjinia
  • Krista

    Yikes.. that stinks about your run on Saturday, but thank you for sharing this– it’s comforting to know it’s ‘not just me’ with bad runs or workouts, you know what I mean? I try to keep a bad run from discouraging me by looking at a lot of different motivational things (quotes, IG accounts) and remind myself of my goals in my planner. Also, getting my runs out of the way super early (5 am) keeps my mornings free to relax a bit and my afternoons productive after work, and knowing I have that free time motivates me to get through it. Just make sure to take it easy and do your best– things happen, so as long as you’re doing your best, you’re doing everything you can do. 🙂

    Reply to Krista
    • Taralynn McNitt

      WE ALL HAVE them. I get discouraged sometimes too! I see people CRUSHING runs and I’m like………they make it look so damn easy.

      Crazy you do them that early! Wish I could. I don’t function until after coffee.

      Thanks for the pep talk! xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Chelsea @ Chelsea Be Healthy

    You are DOING so great with your training! Bad runs are so COMMON for every single training you’ll go through! That’s what makes the good runs, good! I have days where my legs feel like they’re nailed to the ground and others where I feel like I could fly! I bet your next run will be amazing and you’ll look back on this one and take a ton of learning experience from it! Also–if your knee pain pops back up you should try using K.T. Tape around it! It made a world of difference for me in my most recent full marathon! 🙂 Hopefully you can rest up this week though!! Great job on getting it done girl!!

    Reply to Chelsea @ Chelsea Be Healthy
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks, Chelsea!

      K.T. tape is great and I’ll definitely wear it next time. I agree about some days I feel so light and some days I feel like cement!

      thanks for the kind words!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Dorothy

    I read that your half is going to be hilly, so I understand that you wanted to incorporate hills into your long runs, but maybe when you first increase your mileage you shouldn’t incorporate as many hills. That might have done it. You’re also right about the fuel… I just found one thing that worked for me and stuck with it. For me, it was 2 gluten-free waffles with peanut butter on them about an hour before I went running. I also drank Spark in my water before runs.
    My first half marathon was supposed to be relatively flat, so when I did my training I didn’t worry about hills too much. I only used them occasionally, thinking it’d up my speed for the half. Then they changed the route at the last minute and there were two HUGE hills and several smaller ones! It was so difficult and I wasn’t prepared. I wanted to give up, but at that point it was too late so I just stuck with it, and I’m glad I did! Bad runs are still better than no runs, and bad races are still better than no races!

    Reply to Dorothy
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Yeah, the hills were most likely it. I love hills, but this was completely different. I think the peanut butter + banana English muffins were my perfect go to! Kind of like yours.

      Crazy they changed your race path! Luckily mine won’t be changed, but it’s great you stuck with it! You’re awesome!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
      • Dorothy

        Yeah, they changed it because it was a trail run through a winery, and there had been a lot of heavy rains so it was a bit flooded. We ended up running a paved course in the roads around the winery instead. It was all good since we got free wine in the end! 😉

        Reply to Dorothy
  • Rachel @ Better LIVIN

    I had bad runs like this last year when I trained for my first half. You’re smart not to overthink it, you WILL get through your half! Hiccups in training happen.

    Reply to Rachel @ Better LIVIN
  • Sarah

    You got this, girl!

    Maybe you psyched yourself out a little bit beforehand. I tend to do that, and then I’m disappointed when my long run doesn’t go as planned. I know it’s hard, but maybe try relaxing and not thinking too much…running is supposed to be FUN!! Not a stressor 🙂

    Also, a protein shake beforehand might not have been enough calories to push through. I know I’ve tried that before, and I definitely need something that sticks to my ribs! Some toast or oatmeal 😉

    Good luck, my dear- you’re going to do just fine.

    Reply to Sarah
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks, Sarah!

      You’re very right. When I go in with NO expectations, it is VERY fun.

      Yeah, the protein shake was an awful idea. I couldn’t agree more.

      xo xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jenn

    Someone once told me that you have to get “the” bad run out of the way before you can get back to kicking ass on the good ones 🙂

    1. I tell myself that the only bad workout is one that either didn’t happen (because of laziness) or one where I get injured. I also try to follow what you tell yourself – go out there for a little bit. If you aren’t feeling it, there’s always tomorrow. Sometimes, you just aren’t feeling it for whatever reason, so I always tell myself to just get back out there and try again.

    2. I’ve been running for about 8 years, and I’ve had soooo many bad runs. Most are fuel related, but sometimes they’re weather related – my 2nd half marathon was in 95% humidity and full sun, and after training all winter I had no idea how to run in the heat and had to stop so many times. The worst was when I got injured 14 miles into a 20 mile run and had to call my mom to pick me up on the side of the road (which means this was a bad workout lol).

    3. My advice for you would be to trust your training! You’re already running the miles that you need to, and since this is your first half it’s going to be an automatic PR. Once you’ve put in all the work, running the race itself is the time to party! And you’re running in NY, right? It’s been colder up here than in Charlotte (I’m really jealous), so you aren’t going to have the heat/hydration stuff to worry about as much.

    Reply to Jenn
    • Taralynn McNitt

      That someone is a smart one!

      Love your positive outlook! I couldn’t ever imagine running 20 miles. You are incredible!

      Thanks for all of your encouragement. Makes me feel much better. I know I’ll be turning to you if I have anymore trouble!

      xo xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Emily

    Ironically, my worst run (so far) of my half marathon training was also my 8 mile long run! I went on a route with WAY too many hills, that was mostly roads (aka trying to not get hit by cars out for a Sunday drive), and it was 30 degrees above average (70’s in NJ in February!). Honestly, I was discouraged by it, but I have a good support system from my friends, so even though it was a TERRIBLE pace, I was happy to have finished. My 9 mile run the following week went way better, and my runs since have been good as well. My only advice would be to keep going! But at the same time, listen to your body. The last thing you want is to get hurt or pass out mid-run. Walking is not the end of the world – which is something I have to tell myself all the time as well.

    Happy Running! 🙂

    Reply to Emily
    • Taralynn McNitt

      That Crazy 8! lol

      Thank you for all of the advice. I really appreciate it! I think the last time I ran my nine miles, I LOVED it because it was FLAT!!!

      Hoping the next run is great!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Liz

    I’ve been running distance for about 14 years. Bad runs are par for the course. You have to forget them and move forward. They only make you stronger. Also , I wouldn’t recommend combining a hill workout with your long run. That’s two workouts in one. Good luck and be kind to yourself. You deserve it!!!

    Reply to Liz
  • Lace

    Thank you for being real. Reading this made me feel better about my running.

    Reply to Lace
  • Daniel

    Keep up the good work! Try getting fitted for new running shoes!

    Reply to Daniel
  • Amanda

    I love your blog so much.

    Reply to Amanda
  • Sabrina

    Hi Taralynn, First Time commenting in your Blog 😊 I were running halfmarathons before I had my baby in September 2016 and can’t wait to train again for races.
    In I had any bad running experiences – hell yes 😂. When I met my husband I was training for my first 10k. Her was not much of a runner as he loved his Mountainbike nut decided to race with me. What shall I say? The I-hate-running man finished in 44 minutes and I needed to stop because of my abdomnial pain. I was so angry!
    During our holidays I went trail running in the mountains, never did that before, and he needed to pick me in with the car. From the top of the mointain. Nearly shredded our car…
    But nevertheless I still run and race and enjoy it. Stay on track, think positive and enjoy your first half! It is a great experience!!!

    Reply to Sabrina
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Sabrina!!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love hearing other people’s real experiences with running! Crazy how some people can just jump right into it and be so great. Thanks so much for your kind words! I’ll definitely keep all of this in mind. I really appreciate the positivity.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Hey, there are good days and bad days. I’m glad you didn’t get discouraged. One bad run doesn’t account for anything! 🙂 When I have a bad run, I just tell myself – “at least I ran, that’s more than just lazing around the couch all day!”

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
  • Carrie this fit chick

    You certainly can’t let a bad run, a bad day, a bad whatever derail you. That will only allow the ‘bad’ to win and YOU want to win, not Mr. Bad. That sounds cheesy, but that’s how I approach it. I just tell my inner voice to SHUT UP and I move on as if nothing happened!

    Reply to Carrie this fit chick
  • Amy

    You got this girl. Thank you for sharing and being real.

    Reply to Amy

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