Sucking Up The Bad Days

Since I started running just over 4 years ago I have prided myself on rarely, if ever, having had to stop and walk during a run. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have done this. Walking is for quitters I would say and a quitter I am not. Less than a month ago I ran the Belfast Marathon without stopping. That’s 26.2 miles of constant running. 42 kilometres. 3 hours, 51 minutes and 10 seconds. I would rather have died than walked.

Yesterday I set out on a 5 mile training run. Like I have a thousand times before. It should have been utterly uneventful. Yet after 2 miles I felt like death. My arms and legs were like jelly, I could barely put one foot in front of the other. I plodded on for another mile, determined to finish, before the unthinkable happened. I found myself walking. I looked down at my legs and there it was. I was walking. My body had rebelled against my disbelieving brain.

I was still 2 miles from home so had no choice but to soldier on. I lowered my head in shame as cars drove past no doubt thinking ‘Hey there’s that guy from our village who runs marathons. Why is he walking?’. I felt embarrassed and utterly rubbish. The OCD voice in my head was jubilantly informing me that I had finally been found out for the fraud I was and that this was the end of my running career.

After half a mile I felt slightly better so cautiously started running again. I felt fine and managed to run home without stopping. But my confidence had taken the mother of all kickings. I racked my brain as to what had went wrong. Yes, I had foolishly set out during the warmest part of the day but heat doesn’t normally affect me like that. My Garmin is on its last legs so I was running without a watch and was unable to pace myself. Had I run the first two miles too quickly?

Either way I am dreading my next run. Is this the beginning of the end? Has my always fragile self belief finally been irreparably torn to shreds? Will this perceived failure on my part overflow into other areas of my life? What if I turn the laptop on later and am incapable of writing a word? What if my hard earned progress as a husband, father and half decent human being judder to a sweaty halt just like my body did two miles from home yesterday?

It’s at times like this that I need to look back on what I have achieved and focus on the positive. I had a bad run. Get over it. They happen. You should be glad that they happen to you much less than they do to other people. These bad days make the good days all the more memorable. Practice what you preach Stephen for wallowing in self pity is not a good look on you. Suck it up as they say.

I woke up this morning to find the sun had risen. The world was still turning. The international, national and, for that matter, regional news made no reference to a middle aged, average paced distance runner having had a bad day at the office yesterday. Fionnuala and the kids had not left me and there was still a roof over our heads. All was as it should have been. I had lived to run another day.

Never let your mind deceive you and magnify the negatives to the extent that they eclipse the many more positives in your life. You can be your own worst enemy. Liars never prosper and that equally applies when we lie to ourselves. Embrace the truth. Bad days happen. We are not perfect. It’s called life. And we can’t reach the promised land unless we occasionally flail about in the desert of mediocrity yesterday. Like I did yesterday. Suck it up Stephen. Shake it off.

How do you deal with the bad days?

19 thoughts on “Sucking Up The Bad Days

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  1. I deal with the bad days by reminding the part of myself that can listen that the part of myself that never listens often lies to me to try to get its own way. Glad the sun is shining on you today!

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  2. I have decided to walk each day until I lose enough weight to be able to run and ride my bike. I have been inspired by your tales of you getting yourself to here. I am not going to worry about others it is going to be just me against me. and that is a lovely photo.

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  3. I was just thinking about your marathon running the other day, when I had to walk during my much-shorter two mile run. 🙂 I remember wondering if marathoners ever stop, especially for bathroom breaks.

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    1. Yeah I felt pretty rubbish but I’m just putting it down to a bad day. All runners get them. Don’t give up. I’ve never had to go to the toilet during a marathon. You sweat so much you don’t need to, no matter how much fluid you take on.

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  4. There is no shame in listening to your body when it’s telling you it’s tired. Staying positive and looking forward to the next run, instead of dreading it will make all the difference. That 42km was a big deal and so amazing that you ran it all, good for you! Next run just think about all you had to think about to get you through those 42km and the shorter run will fly by. Listen to some peppy music, I find it distracts my brain especially if I have fun memories connected to those songs. Best of luck on your next run!!

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  5. I hope you and I can overcome that critical voice in your head that sneers “what will people think?” . Walking can actually be used strategically and help you end up with a faster finish time sometimes. But more important is the fact that running is supposed to bring us enjoyment and not shame. It’s hot. Walk if you need to. 🙂

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  6. Pushing ourselves to the limits is not as good for our physical and mental health as as they make it seem in those athletic shoe and electrolyte drink commercials. I agree with pkadams, make it enjoyable; and I say focus on you, your body, and your mind only… so you don’t ever miss that FRIENDLY voice telling you to stop before you drop!
    If you must think of others for a minute, just think of people like me who tire from walking to the third floor of my condo building. I don’t smoke, and I am fairly active in that I move all day and don’t sit around too much because if I do my joints will stiffen up, yet I’m still out of breath when I get to that top step. Sucks. Happy moving! Whether it’s walking, running, dancing or something else. 🙂

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  7. I beg you, please – STOP! Whatever else in life we choose to ignore, we should always listen when our bodies give us those firm, clear messages. I have never thought of marathon running as a good form of exercise on any level, but it may work,,. for some people. I know I was never one of those. Is it worth considering you aren’t, either?

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