How to feel after ‘bad runs’

Today was a terrible run. I feel like a total failure.

It had promise. I got changed and felt good, charged my phone, tied up my laces and felt ok.

I had eaten some crap noodles in lieu of having any real food and they tasted awful. I regretted it and chugged some water to destroy the taste, another error. I went down to the track at 6:20pm, an hour earlier than normal but it wasn’t as hot has it has been in previous days.

Walking down I knew I felt ill, walking the track as a pre warm up to the warm up I knew I felt awful. My stomach was churning and I was already hot. it was bright. My head was hurting.

I went over every cliché mantra I could think about mind over matter in order to understand that it was just my mind giving up and I was physically fine.

I ran, my feet went through the normal protest before subdueing. I focused on straightening my back and neck in order to put myself off the churning in my stomach. But it wasn’t working.

Everything hurt.

Everything was failing. I barely made my halfway mark before I checked my time, something I have been trying to stop doing. I began clockwatching and I knew I had already mentally given up. I was debating shaving 5 minutes off and cutting my loss. Training was training…

At the end I died, I went at snail pace on cool down and wobble. I took out my headphones and grew sick of listening. I was in a foul mood. A phone call topped the lot. Nothing serious, just a friend asking me to be the gooseberry on a date, I declined, she called me a name in jest. I took it too personally.

Walking into my apartment I felt like a failure and called my mother to talk, venting all my frustrations which seemed to be more than just the run, in fact the run wasn’t even the issue anymore.

That’s when I understood, yes my poor diet choice and timing had resulted in my stomach issues which created the pain but it really was the mental aspect that had taken over.

I was drained from dealing with the issues of others that surrounded me. Living as a foreign teacher in a boarding school creates a bubble type of life that when toxic can destroy you from the inside. Normally running was positive but it seemed that too much negativity was getting to me and in my mind I had given up.

After calling my mum and venting I realised that it all wasn’t so bad. I had still ran far and for a good length of time. That wasn’t always something I could have done.

So here is my advice for a bad run, the one where you just give up. (remember, I’m no professional. Just another person in trainers trying to keep motivated)

What’s wrong? Get it out. Vent it and realise that your run is still a positive thing regardless of what else is going on. Be proud of your actions regardless of what others are up to. You are doing really well! Most people don’t bother even putting on the trainers. Hell, strapping into the sports bra is a nightmare enough! And you are telling me you made it all the way out to actually run? Well done!

Vent. Reassess. Try again.

Tomorrow is another run. I will ace it.




The week I thought of myself as ‘a runner’

I’m hungover, a weekend of excess in Guangzhou has left me feeling sick. I haven’t run in 3 days. Yesterday was ok, I went to a Yoga class which has left me feeling sore beyond recognition but today? I was supposed to run today. I’m feeling guilty. I go to lie down on my bed and the muscular relief feels amazing, so much I want to fall asleep.

Then a thought strikes me. Get on your trainers.

Within 5 minutes I am dressed to go out, new socks I bought at the weekend on my feet and new phone carrying arm band on my arm. It’s already dark (7:30pm) in the South of China but it’s cooler.

I go out unsure if I will commit to running or just to walking. I get to the school track and think it through as I take a warm up lap. I’m feeling sick. I shouldn’t be running… or is that exactly what I need?

I make a compromise. 10 minutes. Run 10 minutes and you’ll feel less guilty. I hit the timer, go, right, left, right, left.

I get past 5 minutes and feel ok. The tight leg muscles have turned into running muscles again. My breath is ok, not controlled but I’m not out of it. I’m aware I’m not tired. This is when it hits.

I am a runner.

What non-runner calls running for 10 minutes straight a compromise? Less than 7 weeks ago I couldn’t breathe, running 1 minute was hard. The early days of my ‘couch to 5K’ app were so hard! Now? I wasn’t Paula Radcliffe but I was running 10 minutes in a row for fun and was well aware that I could dig deeper and keep going to at least double and a bit more. My training was working.

At that moment I understood I could make it. I could do the 25 minutes, the 30 minutes 5K training, the 40 minutes and the eventual 10K I had signed up for in October 2016.

Yeah I was only doing 20 minutes at a time just now but give me a week I’d be doing 30. Give me a month I’ll do a whole 10K worth. A far cry from the unfit couch potato I viewed myself as.

It is not the speed or the style which you run that makes you a runner, but the desire to do it regardless of how you know it will hurt because the feeling of achievement afterwards is the best feeling in the world.

That’s when I knew I could say it unironically. I was a runner.