4 minutes on the treadmill and I knew I was in trouble. My shins hurt, my breathing was labored, and I’d already dropped a Gballz. My lone headphone cut in and out as my ear pooled sweat. Six and a half miles to go with 20 minutes at a tempo pace…yeah right.
I made it 3 miles before giving up. This was a bad workout.
Some days you’ll have a bad workout. You’re training schedule calls for 7 miles with speed work but you barely pound out three. You’re slow, breathing is hard, your legs are sore, joints ache, and the treadmill feels more like a “dread”mill. Even your joggling doesn’t brighten your mood as you experience excessive dropping. Bad workouts are frustrating.
Unfortunately, bad workouts are also relatively common. If you haven’t figured ways to deal with them, you run the risk of decreased motivation leading to decreased training and ultimately a bad performance in your upcoming race. Even if you’re not racing, bad workouts can easily knock you off an exercise plan or goal. But they don’t have to.
Here are a few things I’ve done to deal with bad workouts.
Recognize and accept
Everyone experiences bad workouts (and disappointing races too). Our bodies are just not always capable of doing what our minds want. Realizing you’ll have bad workouts makes you feel less disturbed by them. Remember they are the exception not the norm.
Temper your expectations
If you realize you’re having a bad workout, feel free to make adjustments. If your training schedule calls for 10 miles, run 2 or 3. You can make up the miles on a day you’re feeling better. And if you don’t make up the miles, don’t worry about it. No race was ever won or lost because someone ran 8 or 10 miles less training miles than they planned.
Do something else
If joggling isn’t working for you, try cross training that day. Work on your core with sit ups, push ups or pull-ups. Or play a sport like volleyball, basketball or table tennis. Better yet, spend the time you would’ve been running / joggling working on your juggling tricks. (That’s what I did yesterday. 45 minutes trying to get a 6-ball pattern going).
Make yourself feel better
After your bad workout, be sure to stretch, soak in a cold bath, get a massage or use The Stick to sooth the sore muscles. This will help relieve today’s pain and help make your next workout better.
Misery loves company
When you have a bad day, it helps to know that others have similar experiences. Go to your favorite running forum and see what other people think. Here is a nice thread on the Runner’s World forum describing what other runners do when they have a bad workout. And don’t just be a lurker. Tell the rest of us just how terrible your workout was!
And a special bonus tip…
Just keep going & have fun
You’ll have good days and bad days. Hopefully, when you look back you’ll remember the journey more than the individual workouts that got you there. And if working out gets too painful, take a break, re-group, and come back tomorrow. Tomorrow is always a better day.