3 Ways You Can Overcome Bad Runs
How you can look on the bright side of a poor outing and find motivation to keep going.
It’s entirely too easy for people to criticize their own performance, and harder to be kind to themselves when they don’t have the race or run they’d hoped for. As the saying goes, we’re our own worst critics.
Even when we do well, we sometimes tell ourselves it wasn’t the training plan that we dedicated months of our lives to following; it was luck. As runners—and humans—it can be hard to believe we’re deserving of success. And when we have that “off” run, we often default, unfortunately, to beating ourselves up over the fact that we could have worked harder.
Over time, being too harsh on yourself can lead to lack of motivation, burnout, and even feeling resentful toward other runners. Here are three tips to help you become more compassionate with yourself, stay motivated, and ultimately be your own best teammate.
→ Use positive self-talk
Credit yourself with the work you put into your training and your successes along the way! Remind yourself whenever you’re feeling down: “I trained for weeks. I put in all this work and was consistent, and I’m stronger and faster than I was four months ago.” On race day, we tend to lose sight of the hours spent in training. While you’re getting dressed or warming up, visualize your larger body of work and the progress you’ve made—the actual event is just a small part of that.
You can also utilize technology, like your morning alarm, to engage in positive self-talk. I label my phone alarm for a morning long run with a motivational mini message that helps me start my day. The more you do this, the more natural it will become to believe these positive affirmations.
→ Reframe your thoughts
Let’s say you ran a “bad” race, but friends and family were cheering you on from the sidelines. Instead of dwelling on your results, try shifting your thinking to: “These people saw me push myself, and they couldn’t care less about my time.” I have a 1-year-old and a wife, and anytime I don’t reach the time I wanted, I think about how I have their support and that they’re cheering for me no matter what.
→ See a sports psychologist
If you find you can’t stop the cycle of self-criticism, you risk falling out of love with running—and yourself. Learning to grow a sense of joy not only will help you show up to your training runs, it can strip away the negative competitiveness and restore the fun that initially drew you to running.
Additionally, being overly self-critical can hurt your relationship with your running community. If you’re injured, you may look in a negative light at people who are running healthy. Or you might begin to resent those who reached a race goal when you didn’t. You can burn yourself out when you direct your energy toward running against people as opposed to with them.
When your running partners or coach aren’t enough to help you break these patterns and pick yourself back up, a sports psychologist can provide impartial feedback, with specific attention to your emotional and mental well-being, in ways someone who is close to you and your training might not be able to.
Practicing positive self-talk will help you become your own best teammate and put you on the path to being kind to yourself—and becoming a better runner along the way.
posted Sunday September 5th