“Bad” workouts happen

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

This week, we had serious wind on Tuesday, my workout day. It was brutal, I was being blown all over the place and my splits during the first half of the workout, when running into the wind, were horrible.

Earlier this year, I had a workout where I could just feel things weren’t going well. It wasn’t the conditions that time. My body just wasn’t responding. It wouldn’t go no matter how much I wanted it to.

Whether due to the conditions or due to it just not being our day, we all have workouts that just don’t go so well. Bad workouts happen. What should you do about it?

Don’t get down

First, don’t get down on yourself if you’re having a bad workout. If you’re having a bad day, just chalk it up to that. We all have bad days. I expect, in any given training cycle, that we will all have a few workouts that just don’t go our way. It’s built into the expectations. When you have that day, just accept it and move on. Analyze why it happened and, if changes can be made to reduce your risk of a repeat occurrence, make those changes.

Most important, don’t dwell on it. What’s done is done. Learn from it if there was a lesson to be learned and move on.

Adjust if needed

During the workout, ask yourself if you’re still accomplishing the goal of the workout. Sometimes, even if you’re not hitting the splits you were aiming for, you’re still accomplishing the goal. In the case of my workout this week, my splits look pretty ridiculous but I know I accomplished what I wanted. In the case of my earlier workout, I wasn’t running the paces I wanted but I was still getting the training stimulus I was aiming for. So, in both cases, I didn’t worry about the watch and just ran.

If something doesn’t feel right, especially if you feel like an injury might be on the way, stop the workout immediately. If the conditions you’re facing are dangerous, stop the workout and find shelter immediately. If you’re just feeling so off that you can’t hit the kind of intensity you’re looking for in the workout, cut it short and move on.

Build mental toughness

This is mostly for workouts in bad conditions but also applies to workouts when you’re just not quite feeling right. Toughing it out in these workouts will make you a mentally stronger runner. If you face similar conditions on race day, chances are they aren’t going to cancel or postpone the race. You’re going to be running in them. If the conditions are good on race day, think how easy it will seem after running through more challenging conditions.

Likewise, if you’re feeling a little off on race day, they aren’t going to postpone it until you’re feeling better. You better be prepared to do your best regardless of how you’re feeling.

In the end, I would consider both of the challenging workouts I had this year productive. Not only did I still get them in and accomplish the stimulus I was looking for. I also toughened myself up. I’m not down on myself for running slow in the first half of my workout on Tuesday, just as I’m not getting carried away by the pace I had with a tailwind in the second half. I am very happy, though, that I battled through and got the workout I wanted even if the conditions weren’t ideal.

Photo credit: Track Workout Jan 4_0046 by Nathan Atkinson, on Flickr

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