Horrible Training Runs=Race Ready Runners

This past weekend there was a very common trend all over social media.  I’ve touched upon this subject before, but I think that it is a really important one to revisit.

For some reason, this past weekend seemed to be the time for everyone to have one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad training runs.  Friends and clients alike, regardless of what plans they were following, seemed to have a rough weekend.  For some it was the weather, but for others it was just one of those mysterious days where nothing went right.


I know this can be incredibly discouraging.  Nothing is worse than getting part way through a long run and feeling like you can’t make it or you just want to quit.  It messes with your head in all sorts of crazy ways.  Just about any runner will start to play the race day questioning game.  “How will I possibly make it through race day if I can’t get through X miles?!”  This is totally normal.

In fact, it is absolutely normal to break down.  Maybe you cry.  Maybe you scream and shout profanities.  Whatever it is that you need to do you, go for it.  Have a moment.

Then it is important to sit back and reflect.  This is a great time during your training to figure out just what went wrong.  Did you fuel properly before, during, and after?  How was your hydration game?  Did you get enough sleep leading up to your run?  Was it the weather or something else that was out of your control?

Perhaps you will find the answers, and that is great.  Or you might find that you just plain had a crappy run.  That is okay too.


Here is the good news about your bad run:

It can be a learning experience.  Upon reflection, if you discovered that you made a few mistakes, you have come out ahead.  Now you know how to learn from those errors and move on.  Better now than on race day.  Take those lessons and use them to make your next long run even better.

You got it out of your system.  Odds are that during your training, there is going to be a really bad run.  It is inevitable.  So roll with those odds and shake it off.  Move forward and be grateful that it is over and happened now.

You know that you can survive.  To me, this is the number one takeaway from a terrible training run.  Marathons and other endurance races are a rollercoaster of emotions and physicals ups and downs.  Every runner needs a really bad run before race day in order to know that you can survive.  Regardless of what comes at you out on the race course, you can take a moment and recall that you’ve been in a similar situation before.  You pushed through and you finished.  You can do it on race day too.

Having a bad training run is inevitable.  Take the time to reflect.  Go ahead and get mad.  Learn from your experiences and then move on.  Go forward with confidence that in the future you will be an even stronger runner both mentally and physically, thanks to that crappy run!


All smalls after finishing the most miserable marathon of my life. I even thought about getting on a bus at mile 18 to quit.  I survived!

What have you learned from a bad training run?

8 thoughts on “Horrible Training Runs=Race Ready Runners

  1. I’ve had a ton of bad training runs and workouts. Sometimes the worst workouts produce good races- because workouts should always be slower than races; it’s better to perform on race day than ace all your workouts but then be too tired or zapped to race. A few years ago, I ran an 800 workout where I struggled to run under 7 min/mile pace on a Wednesday night, then in the race a few days later, ran every mile split under 7.

    This weekend was exceptionally tough here due to the heat and sun, so like you I saw a lot of people struggling and talking about it on social media. I’m ready for cooler temps!

  2. I’ve had so many “bad” runs that I’ve learned “bad” runs are perfectly normal. For me, it’s usually weather-related, but sometimes the culprit’s been what I ate earlier that day, or even if I just had a horrible argument with someone. I’ve learned to take them in stride and understand that they’re not always like that and hopefully the next run will be better!

    • What a wonderful attitude to have about runs. Regardless of what causes them, they really are out of your control. It is important, as you said, to realize that most runs don’t and won’t go that way. It really is important to put things in perspective. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I am exactly the opposite recently, I have been having a solid 2 weeks of running finally! It has been a giant struggle bus since baby #2 to feel good when running, but I think I’ve finally turned the corner. The bad runs are just as important as the good runs, those are the character builders of mental toughness!

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