It can turn on a dime

Running can be a fickle friend. A week ago Saturday, I had a terrible 22-miler. My legs felt bad from the start and then when I attempted a few miles at marathon pace? It was a complete struggle. I finished off the final miles shuffling like I was at the end of a marathon. Ugh.

A run like that can be so discouraging, leaving you lacking confidence, questioning your race prep, and even questioning whether or not you should toe the line at your upcoming race. That’s what it did for me, I can tell you.

IMG 1975 300x225 It can turn on a dime

Post-Sandy track workout

Then last week happened. We started out with Hurricane Sandy, and it was starting to look like I might not be able to get out for my Tuesday speedwork, much less with friends. But Tuesday morning dawned wet and chilly, with just a bit of wind left over–quite doable for running. I met up with two friends who are also doing CIM and we got in about 10 miles total, four of which were speedwork. And I felt great. Confidence restored.

The rest of the week followed suit–great runs, all the way through my long one on Saturday (18.5), finishing up with an easy seven on Sunday. I feel much more confident than I did a week ago and feel like my training is back on track where I want it. This wasn’t without a little self-talk going into the track workout back last Tuesday, I’ll admit. But once I made that mental changeover to get on top of the workout, everything else fell into place. Now I have one week left of marathon training and I feel ready to finish it off strong.

I know I’m not the only one out there who has had these night and day running experiences. My friend Lisa over at RunWiki just went through something similar, also a few weeks before her marathon. For her it was a good trail run that turned things around. Whatever it takes to do it, it’s important to figure out how to turn a bad or two (or three) back in the right direction. I’m so glad I I pulled my training back to where it needed to be.

What works for you when you hit a rough spot in your training? 

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  1. says

    Yes! One run can bring on bad spirits. But for me, even just one more good run, sandwiched in between the bad run and my race, can boost my confidence again. And if it’s an injury bringing me down, taking the time to see my physical therapist makes me feel better about how my body is functioning.
    Yo Momma Runs recently posted..Savannah marathon resultsMy Profile

  2. says

    WOw only one week til taper–that flew for me! Haha!
    I’ve had so many bad runs….I just keep coming back at it in a slightly different way (pace-distance-fuel-location) and will it to get better.
    Marcia recently posted..Marathon BrainMy Profile

  3. says

    When I hit a bad spot in my training, I’ve found that taking a step back, running at a slow, comfortable pace, and just letting my thoughts wander reconnects me with the running. Also, running in the rain!
    Ama_Runs recently posted..Giving GratitudeMy Profile

  4. says

    I’ve been mentally fighting myself for the 2 weeks since my first marathon about why I booked Goofy for right after it. But I’ve gotten over it and feel great during the workouts. Goofy is seeming more doable now!
    lauriewalksfast recently posted..Homemade granolaMy Profile

  5. says

    Ugh, hate those random bad runs – I had a terrible run yesterday, but I know it’s just post-vacation blues. Exhaustion and jet-lag can do it to you! Usually if I have a bad day I’ll take a few easy days to make sure I’m recovered before I jump back into hard workouts.
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..Home from Paris!My Profile

  6. says

    This has happened to me too – nothing like a bad run to shake your confidence and a great run to restore the passion.

    My next few runs after a tough one are usually approached a little less regimented (if time permits and I’m not too close to a race). I run a little slower, maybe a few less miles and crank up my favorite tunes – the loving feeling usually returns within a run or two.
    Jen recently posted..Should the ING NYC marathon be cancelled because of Sandy?My Profile

  7. says

    This post probably hits home for so many people right now, especially those of us doing CIM! This is the time in our training where all the miles are catching up to us and making us ready for that TAPER which will be here before we know it! Runs go poorly, we doubt everything we’ve done up until the point! Kind of silly, but we ALL think this way at some point.
    I’m at a different point this training cycle where I decided 7 weeks from CIM that I was going to run CIM. Before I was running low mileage with not much speed, just racing here and there. So, lots of my runs are failures right now. :) Every time I have a bad run lately, I just remind myself how lucky I am to be running and I know I can finish the marathon, and I’m going to have fun no matter what. No one is forcing me to race, no one cares how I do as much as I do. Just need to leave the doubting head at home sometimes. :)
    Jen B. recently posted..Sisters in Sport, 1st Check-inMy Profile

  8. says

    This is my 4th marathon and the three before I felt great prior to the race and I had three horrible races. I am starting to think that having a horrible run is a GOOD sign! haha! Amanda thank you so much for mentioning me in this post, I am flattered. I wish I were doing CIM, I would love to see you! I will be thinking of you on race day! Fly like the wind beautiful girl! xoxo
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Nature SpeaksMy Profile

  9. says

    I feel buried in that tough spot right now. The DNF at Laurel, the move, the lack of any support in VA, the health issues (my own and my BIL) has left me feeling like running/racing and I need to break up. BUT My sanity might not survive if I did that. So I continue to try and figure out the issues and take each day as it comes. Those great runs help pull me over the challenges. Hopefully I will find a great run in the upcoming 50 miler and it will all turn around.
    shelly recently posted..How’d October Go?My Profile

  10. says

    So glad you had confidence building runs after the bad one.

    Although I get discouraged when I have a bad run, after training for so long, I realize that I’m going to have those really rotten runs. I can never seem to pin-point the cause because I’ll prep really well, so I just think it was one of those days and better ones will come.
    Joanne recently posted..CNYEats A Taste of Utica Rolled BaklavaMy Profile

  11. says

    This is so true! I remember when I was training for Boston my first 20 miler was a disaster!! I ended up having a panic attack during the run but I thought it was a heart attack! Oh boy! The marathon went well though!!!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  12. says

    I always find that the middle part of my training cycle is the hardest for me. If I have a couple of bad workouts it really gets to me mentally, but usually I will just take it “easy” that week. I let myself re-group and then hit it hard the following week. Usually I just need to take that little breather to get back into the game.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Featured Runner: Lora @ Crazy Running GirlMy Profile

  13. says

    Oh my, I feel ya! After having to miss my 20 miler and a week of meh runs my confidence was in the toilet. But there was still 6.5 weeks left and I made the mental shift to put 100% in. I’m exhausted don’t get me wrong but but I actually feel like I’m doing this right this time. Yesterday I did 17 miles at just 6 seconds slower than MP. It’s weird although I’m exhausted, I couldn’t sleep! My legs feel like they have restless leg syndrome. That ever happen to you?? Thank goodness today is a rest day!
    I’m glad your back on track! We can do anything for one more week!!
    Fueled by Spite recently posted..The Infamous JacketMy Profile

  14. says

    You made it! It’s actually comforting to hear that you experience these kinds of awful runs, too. Also comforting to read some of the comments from people saying they had good races after crappy training runs! One more week to go before taper… you got this!
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Milestones!My Profile

  15. says

    Nice rallying! When I hit that moment, I just remind myself a) better to have that kind of run during a training run vs. the actual race, and b) not to overthink it or try too hard on my next run. I think sometimes that can create a negative domino effect.
    Lisa recently posted..I’m an ultramarathoner!!My Profile

  16. says

    I’ve gotten accustomed to the peaks and valleys because they happen constantly, whether you want them to or not. I haven’t gotten used to how crappy they make me feel when I’m in a valley, but I know it’s just a phase so I just keep going.

    And that’s my solution; just keep going. There’s no formula for me, I just know if I continue plodding forward, at some point the momentum will shift and I’ll feel great again….for a while.
    Jonathan Aluzas recently posted..Fitness for a Lifetime: Don’t Forget to Turn YOUR Clock Back!My Profile

  17. says

    I’m glad you got things turned around so swiftly. I had a pretty crummy run yesterday. It should have been an easy seven but it turned into a six mile slog, as I was never able to settle into a groove. I’m blaming the leftover Halloween candy and trying to move on.
    Raquelita recently posted..November GoalsMy Profile

  18. says

    My weekend run was MUCH better than the prior weekend’s too. The difference for me was just not looking at the freaky heart rate spikes on the watch, choosing a new and interesting (hilly!) route and running by feel. The hills alone were enough to boost confidence.

    I’m still not sure of my ability to execute the way I want to at the marathon distance, but I’m feeling good and strong in general, and I’m trying to go with that. When I feel my confidence shifting, I focus on the task at hand, not the one that’s still a few weeks out. You can only control what’s right in front of you and work with what you’ve got right now.
    Terzah recently posted..A Hilly Long RunMy Profile

  19. says

    I am stuck in a rut right now! My last SEVERAL long runs have been so rough! I am getting really nervous about my marathon on Saturday because I haven’t had ANY confidence boosting runs in awhile. :( But who knows, maybe Saturday, race day, will be that perfect run!
    Kate @ Run with Kate recently posted..Marathon MantraMy Profile

  20. Jessica says

    Ita a great feeling doing this kind of marathon…Thanks a lot for sharing this info to us…I know that everybody is really had fun doing this..
    Jessica recently posted..bioteneMy Profile

  21. says

    I’m glad that you’ve been having some good runs this pat week. Bad runs are always so frustrating, especially when they crop up for no reason. For me, to get back on track I find that I need to let go of my expectations and just run. Earlier this week, I was feeling tired and sick but, because of that, I ran with no expectations and had an amazing 4 mile run. Longest distance so far since surgery and it seriously felt amazing. I felt like I could go on and on.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Blogoversary and Erica Sara Giveaway!My Profile

  22. says

    It sure can change quick! I did a post a few weeks back about being in love with running again. Now? Well I’ve run twice in the past two weeks…I’m heading back on the injury shelf. Two races in 12 hours was too much for my cranky left groin muscle…But it’ll turn around again!
    Erik recently posted..Wellness Wednesday…Quinoa!My Profile

  23. says

    i always tell myself you have to have a bad run every now and then to appreciate the good ones. and, i believe that one bad training run is almost a good sign for the marathon. you get it out of the way. i’ve learned to not beat myself up over it and not freak out-i usually book a massage to make sure everything is okay too!
    elizabeth recently posted..October RecapMy Profile