The Art Of A Bad Run

Disappointing runs: we all have them at some point!
Whether it's a nasty stitch that forces you to pull over, or simply an early onset of shin splints half a kilometre in, admitting temporary defeat in something you actively want to do is hard.

A few weeks ago, I set out for my usual 5k. It's a distance I am well practised in, and it was an easy, flat route.
It was a wonderful spring morning, combining delicate sunlight with a refreshing breeze. It was the perfect day for a run, and I couldn't wait to get going!
My husband and I are quite competitive when it comes to running together, so off I scooted, gleefully cackling over the fact that I was a good few paces ahead.
... Well karma certainly caught me up before he did, put it that way!

My first kilometre flew by without difficulty, but shortly into my second, my stomach began to cramp. I tried to run through it, altering my pace. I turned Fatboy Slim up through my headphones to spur me on. I squeezed my fists together in an attempt to distract me from the twinges. It was all to no avail. This felt worse than the average stitch. My legs wanted to run, but my stomach was dead set against it.
I was forced to pull up shortly after 2k, clutching my stomach in agony. I was almost crying as I stumbled back to my husband.
The pain was horrific, but the disappointment was worse.

"I don't understand!" I cried in frustration. "I can run a half marathon – why couldn't I even make it past 2 kilometres today?!"
I made my way home dejectedly, the resentment building within me.

Okay, I'll admit it – I'm a woman and yes, sometimes I can be a little over-dramatic, especially when in pain. So that was it; instead of just putting it down to one bad run and looking forward to a fresh start the next day, I pretty much ended my running career there and then. I vowed that I would never jog again. Like a scene from a horror film, I stood staring in the mirror, wondering if – at five foot nothing – rugby might be a better sport for me.
By the time my husband returned home, I was minutes off binning my shoes and packing away all of my MedalMad bling. I felt like a total fraud looking at my array of medals.

"What if I'm too old for running? What if my body has just aged overnight and this is its way of telling me that enough is enough?"

"You're 26!" My husband replied in exasperation.

"What if this happens every time I run from now on, and I can just never make it past 2k again?"

"This has never happened before, so why would it happen again? You've just got stomach cramps. It'll pass."

"But what if it doesn't? What if I can only run 1k a day from now on? That means it's going to take me over two weeks to do my Find The Good Spots challenge!"

"You're being ridiculous. Go and lie down, and you'll feel better soon."

"Now I know how Paula Radcliffe felt in Athens," was my parting statement.

My husband rolled his eyes and closed the kitchen door on me.

A few days after that fateful morning, we had another jog planned. It sounds so stupid, but I was actually anxious as I pulled on my running shoes. The bad experience had really knocked my confidence, and I feared that all of my future jogs were going to present the same pain and outcome.
I took the first kilometre a lot slower than I usually would and built my speed up as the distance increased. I managed 5k without incident or any form of pain! I was ecstatic, and also extremely relieved. A few weeks later, I actually went on to run my first full marathon, too!

We've all had those days whereby we really just can't be bothered heading out for a run. In such incidences, we can do one of two things: we can grant our body with a rest, or we can persevere and drag ourselves out anyway. This can often go one of two ways - sometimes, after really dreading a run, we can actually find ourselves unexpectedly loving every second of it, or, we can crash and burn, securing our worst time and our worst mood as a consequence.

It's about remembering that there is no shame in either a day off or a 'bad' run indeed!
There is no such thing as a bad run! Any run at all is a fantastic achievement, whether it be 100 yards, or 26 miles.
I wish I had stopped to remind myself that I had still ran 2k on that morning, which was still better than nothing.
Not every run is going to be your personal best, and sometimes, there is literally no rhyme or reason whatsoever for a negative experience.
Listening to our bodies is so important.

The best remedy for a setback? Treat yourself to a new MedalMad challenge, of course! It's hard not to be eager to hit the road running when you know you have an amazing medal to come at the end of it!

Cara Jasmine Bradley

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  • This is a great blog post! I feel you with the stitch pain! Last week I was doing a simple 3.5K, got the most horrific stitch ever after 1.5K andThis is a great blog post! I feel you with the stitch pain! Last week I was doing a simple 3.5K, got the most horrific stitch ever after 1.5K and just could barely run anymore. Very important to remember bad runs do happen but it won't necessarily happen again next time!   More ...