Getting over a bad run – There are two choices you can make!

Getting over a bad run

So you’ve had a bad run. And when you say bad it totally went off the rails right? Something like you’re training schedule told you to run 6 miles at a medium effort pace. You might not have even gotten past mile two and your pace was embarrassingly slow. You slow down a bit, maybe even walk a bit, to catch your breath and refocus. That’s it no way am I going to finish this run! “Done!” you say! Getting over a bad run is usually more difficult for the new runner as compared to a seasoned runner.

A new runner has to mentally go through defeat whereas the seasoned runner probably already knows what went wrong. Knowing what type of runner you are and how to deal with yourself mentally can help you overcome those treacherous atrocious runs.

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“Our imperfection is being human” – Edgar Allen Poe

Two frames of mind and the space in between

When disaster strikes and the run takes a nosedive, runners tend to react in two different ways. Either they freak out and start post analyzing things or they shrug it off and tend to look at the bigger picture.

The macro runner

Looking at the overall complete training cycle can easily lead this type of runner to simply go with the flow and shrug off the bad run.

The micro runner

The micro runner comes from the technician side of running, number, numbers, numbers! You have to make your pace and hit your numbers in order to be successful. They start analyzing any and every aspect including:

  • the weather conditions
  • did they get enough sleep
  • did they fuel properly
  • properly hydrated
  • stretched accordingly

GPS data and numbers are what keep the micro runner in check and on track to the bigger goals. If we don’t have the watch on we will suffer an ill fate of sort. If our watch didn’t track it doesn’t count because it won’t be reflected in our day to day activity via our run tracking apps. The micro runner almost feels lost without his tracking devices.

Check out a great post I wrote that dives deeper into why bad runs can occur: 5 questions you should ask yourself after a bad run

Your numbers aren’t everything

The runner that’s in it for the long haul is the runner that will look at both aspects and not loath in the micro details of the bad run. They will analyze the details and attempt to figure out what went wrong but they won’t dwell in the details. They push on to the bigger picture and remember that all training cycles have a failsafe built-in, a buffer if you will, that allows for botched runs.

Coexist in harmony

The micro and macro runner can coexist each within ourselves. The macro runner needs to be the one to tell the micro runner that it’s ok that you might not have hit your 8 miles for the day. The macro is there to remind the micro that sometimes the effort is more important than hitting the numbers. Sometimes a day off for rest will do far more for performance than getting up half winded and placing yourself in harm’s way of injury.

The micro runner is also there to help remind the macro runner to stay motivated. To quit whining and walk for a few minutes if you’ve got a temporary stitch. Also, to make sure that the macro runner logs the required mileage for the week.

A balance is required for both the micro-minded and macro-minded runners. You need both to coexist as a seasoned runner.

The Beginnings

The reason why a lot of new runners throw in the towel is due to the demand of the micro runner. He wants you to hit your numbers. Quit making excuses and get to work. Stay on top of the training schedule and don’t budge when you’re wanting to take a break.

The macro runner is always looking at the slightly less aggressive side of things. It thinks of things such as:

  • reducing injuries
  • sustaining an entire life of running
  • understanding that life gets in the way sometimes
  • prioritizing life instead of running
  • knowing when to call it quits and reboot
  • allowing for cheat days when you just don’t feel like running
  • adjusting schedules when needed
  • rationalizing longer-term goals

The micro runner is wanting you to smash through your PRs with sheer excitement. It focuses on:

  • sticking to a rigid schedule
  • Analyzing thy numbers
  • making you feel bad when you didn’t hit your marks
  • motivating you when you are just not feeling it
  • rationalizing short term goals

Getting over a bad run post-mortem

So, what does a micro-minded and macro-minded runner have to do with bad runs? Actually everything! If your a new runner, what are your two choices after a bad runner?

  1. Quit (micro-minded)
  2. Shrug it off (macro minded)

Answer 1: Quitting

Emotions can get the best of you. Especially after a horrendous run where everything goes south. A great way to keep your emotions at bay is to ask your running partner or coach what went wrong? If you don’t have a running partner or coach, then try to step outside of yourself and look on your run as if you were the coach. If you loathe in your feelings of defeat and despair you won’t come back to run another day. You will tell yourself, “running isn’t for me…”

Comparing oneself to an elite or better runner is another way to completely blow this one bad run out of proportion. ALL RUNNERS AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER – WILL HAVE A BAD RUN! It’s how you treat the post-mortem of the run rather than focusing on how bad the run was.

Answer 2: Shrug it off

Think like an elite runner and act as an elite runner. Forgive yourself for the bad run. Keep looking forward and not backward. If you find yourself running into more bad runs then good runs then you’re probably overdoing it for your current physical fitness capacity. This is where a coach or running partner can quickly diagnosis what’s going on and readjust your training schedule if need be.


Did you know that people that say that running is bad on your knees is actually a myth? If you’re genetically predisposed to knee issues then yes, running can be difficult. However, running with no predisposed issues doesn’t cause knee injury. The muscles around the knee actually strengthen as a result of running. Knee injury is caused by overtraining, improper running form, and sometimes shoes.

It’s time to hang up the excuses and start fresh the next day. Remember that my goal is to have all of my readers sustain a life of injury-free running. I hope that you can tuck this away and use it on a bad run day.

The excuse “My shoelaces came untied during my run and everything went downhill from there,” can no longer be used. They make no tie shoelaces from preventing this from happening ever again. These are the no tie shoelaces I purchased and purchase with every new pair of running shoes – Locklaces [Amazon Affiliate Link]

What should I do if my love for running starts to fade from too many bad runs?

We all go through peaks and troughs, high points and low points when it comes to our running life. If you feel yourself really getting down on yourself post-race, check out these tips I conveyed in my post post-race blues and how to help fix the problem. If your feelings start too literally fall off a cliff and you start to despise running before you totally give up read this detailed long post about how to run when you hate running.

RRCA Coach Scott Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach. He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 11th half marathon race. 

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