QT: Salvage a Bad Run (or Race) By Moving the Goal Posts


If you run long enough, you will learn that not all runs (or races) go according to plan.

How do you react when you are having a bad run?

Do you just say screw it, and cut the run short? Do you power through, hating it, until you finish?

Or do you figure out how to turn your bad run into the proverbial lemonade?

Reframe a Bad Run

Last weekend, I was out for my long run and I just wasn’t feeling it.

The plan was to do an 18-miler, for the second week in a row, and I was struggling.

Nothing was particularly the matter, it was just one of those days that all of us have from time to time.

And honestly, there were a couple of times that I thought about cutting my run short.

Ordinarily, that is my go-to response for a bad run. Just shut it down have a better run next time.

The problem was, I had a goal of hitting 40 miles for the week. And in order to get there, I needed to get to 18 miles.

So I kept grinding it out.

The problem with simply grinding out the miles is that is sucks.

When a run turns into a grinder for me, there is no joy. It simply becomes work.

And that is why I rarely grind when I’m having a bad run. Instead, I shut it down and call it a day.

But on this particular day, I tried a different tactic: I reframed the goal for my run.

And it made all the difference in the world.

Move the Goal Posts

What do I mean by reframing my bad run?

Simple. I picked a new goal for my run when I was 3/4 of the way finished with the workout.

As I was struggling with taking way too many walk breaks, not because I was tired but simply because I was having a bad run, I decided instead of grinding our the miles or taking a shortcut back to the car, I was going to focus on a different target for the day.

I moved my goal post for this workout, and it made all the difference.

Instead of focusing on getting to 18 miles for the day, I set my mind to finishing the last four miles of the workout strong–mentally and physically.

I knew I didn’t need to walk, but I was letting myself off the hook with the walk breaks I was taking.

So after filling up my water bottles at mile 14, the task was simple: make the last four miles the strongest of the day.

I knew I had a couple of hills left before I finished, and I vowed to myself that I’d find a way to keep running, no matter how slowly, all the way to the top of them.

And by giving my mind a new target to focus upon, something funny happened.

My last four miles were fricking awesome!

I wasn’t setting any speed records, but even with the hills they were my steadiest miles of the day.

And when I finished, instead of being pissed about a bad run I was feeling good about finding a way to salvage a good finish to my workout.

Lesson: Find the Positive in Your Next Bad Run or Race

If the occasional bad run is as certain as death and taxes, then you might as well have a plan in place for dealing with the next one you encounter.

As runners, there is always something to be gained from every workout and race.

I’m of the belief that we learn more from the hard times than when things are smooth sailing.

So a bad run is a great opportunity to learn something that can help you down the road.

Maybe it’s a way of reframing your workout in your mind.

Maybe it’s a chance to run a different route than you usually do.

Or maybe it’s just a chance to steel your resolve and grind out the workout.

As long as you learn something from a bad run, it’ll help you in the long run.


What Do You Do When You are Having a Bad Run or Race?

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