Over the weekend, I headed out for a run. It was a bright and sunny day – one of those days that’s begging for a long run. Beginning with my first step, my legs felt heavy and my breathing labored.

In the back of my mind, I was hoping that I just needed to warm up before my run would miraculously turn glorious. But no such luck. I was aiming for ten miles and had to stop at 7.5 miles.

I tried my best to shake it off. That’s what runners do, right? We quickly dismiss the bad runs as a fluke and immediately look ahead to the next great run.

Not so fast. While bad runs aren’t always fun, they may have some surprising benefits. Here are five reasons why a bad run may help you become a better runner:

1.Mental training:

A bad run often involves more than just physical pain; it takes a toll on our psyche and spirit. However, learning to dig deep during these training sessions builds your mental strength. When the physical and emotional fatigue sets in during a race (and it will), you will know how to deal with the pain and you will be able to persevere.

2. Mental agility:

Runners are known for our “Type A” personalities, because we stick to training plans, schedules, pre-race routines – you name it. You may start a run or a race with a game plan in mind. When your run starts to unravel, you need to have the ability to adapt. Bad runs teach you how to change your plan mid-run and pay attention to what your body is telling you.

3. Gratitude:

Admit it, sometimes we take running for granted. We take for granted that we can lace up our shoes, run and feel better almost immediately. Without the bad runs, we wouldn’t truly appreciate the good ones.

4. Self-care:

Often, bad runs are a signal that you may be overtraining and pushing yourself too hard or too far physically. Bad runs can be a wake-up call and indication that you need to rest or turn to other aspects of your training, such as strength training, recovery work or cross training.

5. Perspective:

Ultimately, one bad run is just that – one bad run. Bad runs can serve as a reminder that this one training session doesn’t define you or your training cycle. Instead, it’s important to step back and take a broader look at your training.

How do you handle bad runs?


By Nichols