5 Ways to Rebound from a Bad Run


It happens to all runners: one day you have the most incredible long run, and it seems like the next day an easy run half the distance is kicking your booty.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with you ways to come back stronger from a bad run.


Did you get enough rest? Forget your allergy meds? Did you fuel properly? Did you fuel properly after your last run? Were you properly hydrated? When was your last rest day, anyway? Was it an unusually hot/cold/snowy/windy/humid day? Did you adjust your pace for those conditions?

Forget the training plan
Chances are if all you do is run for fun, then you won’t be bothered by a bad run. Probably you’ll even cut it short and live to run another day.

If you’re deep into training for something, though, it might be time to forget the plan and just go out and run. Maybe naked — without a watch, that is.

This run was so hard — going from the cold Northeast to hot & humid New Orleans. Ok, it wasn’t really a bad run, but it was definitely tough! But you know what? I rocked the race!

Take a look through your running journal
Of course you keep a running journal, right? It could be written. It could be your blog. It could be Facebook posts.

Look back through it. What happened the last time you had a run that sucked? Did all your subsequent runs suck? Did you decide this running thing just isn’t for you, that clearly you suck at it?

I’ll bet you’ll find the good runs outweigh the bad runs. Just accept that some runs are gonna suck and have faith your next one won’t.

Think about all the greats . . .
. . . who failed.

  • Disney was fired for “lack of imagination”.
  • Edison’s teacher said he was “too stupid to learn anything”.
  • JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” was rejected by 12 publishers.
  • Babe Ruth, the home run king, struck out more than he hit homers.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team sophomore year.

They didn’t let adversity — or rejection — deter them from coming back stronger. You will, too.

Dangle a carrot
When all else fails, decide on something that really, really, really motivates you. Food. A new playlist. Some new running clothes. New kicks. Whatever will get you out there even though you know this running thing just sucks.

Humans are animals — and the more you reward animals for doing something, the more they will do it to try to get that reward. So reward yourself.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What do you do when your run sucks?

What other famous people do you admire who failed?

What’s your favorite “carrot” to dangle?

24 thoughts on “5 Ways to Rebound from a Bad Run

  1. Hah!, Mostly I try to forget about it and move on. You’re right though, figuring out why – especially if I might need more rest — might help the next run be better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After 11 months, off, I’m trying again. Couch to 5K plan is printing and posted on my refrigerator. To celebrate Mother’s Day and my upcoming retirement (seven weeks from today), I hope to start on Monday. These are great tips! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Judy, I’m chomping at the bit; getting a head start before it gets too warm. My last day is June 29, well into summer. Crossing my fingers.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I need to do a better job with recording my runs. That use to be my favorite time post run. NIW I end up waiting so ling to record them that I forget the details.

    I think my favorite carrot to dangle is being able to do an upcoming race and feeling good about it. There is nothing worse than going into a race knowing you are undertained. -M

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so with you with going into a race knowing you’ve trained for it!

      I’ve kept up with my journal, but I have let some of the details (time, distance, pace, lap pace) go until they’ve already scrolled off my watch (but I can still look them up on the app).


  4. Well, food is always my carrot.

    I never really care about bad runs. There’s always something good about them even if it’s “It’s over.”

    As you mentioned, sometimes my best races follow crappy runs and vice versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll be frustrated for sure. I struggled mentally at the beginning of this race cycle, and I kept pushing through. I made sure to recover properly, and even though it’s hard, shake off the bad runs because most likely, my next run would feel great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After a hard winter, I’ve definitely come back strong. I just hope I stay strong!

      I do know that bad runs happen. Sometimes there’s a reason, sometimes there isn’t. The most important thing is to just keep going!


  6. I tend to shrug it off, and move on to run another day. But, I know that sometimes, I do wonder why I feel like crud on a particular run. This happens when I’m training for a marathon more than half marathons for me.
    Also, I always have a post-long run reward in mind. A delicious cold smoothie always puts a smile on my face. I think we all need a post-run treat. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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