How to Recover From a Bad Run

Experienced runners know that not every stint on the track or trail is going to be an exhilarating experience. Sometimes a jog winds up being a slog. You may feel as if you're just trudging along, going through the motions, and counting down the seconds until you can cool down and go home. The whole thing can be disheartening, frustrating, and even cause you to doubt your commitment to your fitness routine. Before you turn in your jogging shoes, though, try these tips for getting over a bad run. 


Figure Out What Went Wrong

Runner resting
Stewart Charles Cohen

When you have a bad run, take some time to mull over why it may have happened by asking yourself some basic questions: Are you sluggish from overtraining? Then consider dialing back your efforts. Did you eat and hydrate properly? If not, change up your pre- and post-exercise diet. Are you getting enough sleep? An earlier bedtime can help counter fitness fatigue. Are you bored with your routine? Find a new running route or get a friend on board. You might also check with your doctor to make sure you don't have an underlying medical condition brewing that could be interfering with your exercise. 


Remember Why You Run

OK, so that last couple of miles were frustrating and painful. Even so, just getting out and moving has significant payoffs, even if you wound slowing down or cutting your run short. It takes just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, about 20 minutes a day, to get a wealth of health benefits. Moderate exercise is defined as brisk walking; you can get the same advantages with just 75 minutes per week of more vigorous activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Take a Mental Note

A tough run can offer an important lesson in dealing with the realities of life: Sometimes things are hard and learning to meet challenges on the running trail can help you to handle them in other aspects of your life. And if you happen to be training for an event, such as a marathon, rough patches when you run will give you the tools for dealing with difficult moments during your race. 


Put Pen to Paper

In general, keeping a training journal or blogging about your running experiences is a great way to keep tabs on your progress. Writing about the agony as well as the ecstasy of your efforts can help you get out your frustration and also allow you to sort out the details of your runs on paper, so you can examine what's working and what isn't.


Talk It Up

All runners, whether beginners to elite athletes ​have days when it's tough to get through a run, so you're in good company. Join a running group or ask friends or colleagues who run what tends to discourage them and how they overcome those challenges. Knowing you're not alone will go a long way toward easing any anxiety you may be feeling about running and as a bonus, you'll likely gather some great coping tips.


Look on the Bright Side

And yes, there is one. The silver lining of having a bad run is that it helps you better appreciate the great ones. Go ahead and sulk a bit after a terrible run, but then look back on all the others that have been exciting and fun. Think about the incredible experience of having a runner's high and know that that same intoxicating feeling is within your grasp the next time you lace on your shoes. 


Get Back on the Horse Right Away

Or rather, get back on the track or trail. Don't let a bad run discourage you from keeping up with your routine or training. The longer you wait to run again, the more likely you are to find excuses to put it off indefinitely. Not only that, but it may not take long for your abilities and skills to diminish enough that when you finally do go back to running, you'll find you have to start from scratch or at least take time to build back up to your previous fitness level. 

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