Sometimes…Running Sucks

I’m going to say something may or may not blow your mind. First and foremost, I’m generally a pretty positive person on my blog and it’s hard to read between the lines of whether a run (or race) went god awful or it just wasn’t great.

I like it that way.  Let me tell you, I’ve had some seriously awful races that I could spend 500 words crying, whining and begging for attention about.  The distance series 20k.  Yeah that sucked (that’s why I took time off afterwords).  The Turning Stone half marathon last August…that was another awful one…thanks blood sugars and heat.  Oh and the 5k I ran in Binghampton wasn’t great either…as you see from this paragraph I’ve had my share of dropped the ball races.

running sucks.
running sucks.
running up whatever the hell this is sucks too...
running up whatever the hell this is sucks too…


But really, I go back and read them and I don’t think many of you just how awful they really were…unless you were there…but I literally had no friends at Turning Stone…so that is that.

Where are you friends?
Where are you friends?

As bloggers and athletes we may feel we need to report that every race is perfect.  The culmination of a hard earned training cycle…ending in complete perfection.  Let me drill it through your head…that doesn’t always happen and not every run or race is great, good, mediocre or even fun.  Some just flat out suck.  You will be in pain for no apparent reason for some.  You will die in some races just because it wasn’t your day.  Not because you are overtrained OR UNDERFUELED (which obviously has other problems in itself) but point blank…your race went badly because it wasn’t your day.

If you sit there and let it bother you…well you aren’t going to go anywhere in your training.  Every week I have at least 1 run that I want to give up or cry.  My legs hurt…my body hurts…really I’m just bored.  I question if I’m going to even make it back to my house.  I question all of my running ability and how I will ever run fast again.  Every week I can guarantee you I have one of those runs.  Some weeks I have 2…3..or all the runs are like that…wtf legs are you doing.

Every week I normally have a run that I’m just like wow this feels freaking awesome.  I am a runner, where is this energy coming from.  Did I ingest roids…I hope they don’t drug test me.  Wasn’t expecting this…okay then.  I normally have one of those and I tend to like it more when it’s a race.

But if I let those terrible runs ruin my day or sat there crying about my pace was slower, my legs felt heavy…I feel like crap…well I wouldn’t have time for good runs because I’m still caught up in the bad.

What I’m trying to say is this.  There is no secret…you will have bad runs. Do not be afraid to blog or tell others you had a bad run.  It makes you a human.  Learn from them or let them exit your mind once they are over.  If every run was perfect you would be Olympic World Champion in everything and even they have plenty of less than stellar runs.

Questions for you:  What has been your worst race to date?  Your best? 

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  1. Pittsburgh Half Marathon, May 2011. I blew up during the final 2 miles, sure, but I just didn’t enjoy everyone in the group there. To date, it remains the worst run, so much so that I threw out the finisher’s medal.

    1. I had a horrible experience at the Pgh Half Marathon in 2011 too!!! Just the entire race I felt out of it mentally and honestly could NOT wait until it was over…I’ve done about 14 half’s now and that one is the only one where I look back and can’t think of anything positive except I did eventually finish lol

      1. The heat didn’t help! And those stupid bridges. Oh, and getting injured two weeks before and missing important runs… yeah. just an all around bad experience made worse by people. I did at least finish, so there is that!

      2. From both of you guys, I guess Pitts is not a half I will run then LOL. Just kidding, I had thought about running it this year but it was quite the drive. Some races are exactly like that..I put them in the back of my mind never to resurface again.

  2. It’s really hard to give an honest race review on a blog for several reasons, including everything you just said, but I’ll add a few.

    I did a race that did not give awards to the top female finishers (just the top “finishers”, who all happened to be male and the winner ran a 15 minute 5K). Of course, I was the top female finisher. Unfortunately, I could not complain and gripe about it on my blog like I wanted to because this race was hosted by a church that is a client of my company’s. I still warn everyone I know, even though they do female awards now. The race director actually told me to come do it next year and I could win (yeah… come pay again… run a better time… um, no thanks. You only get one shot with your race bc there are so many out there I can do).

    Another thing I’ve run into… you probably have to… is people will get mad if you complain about your time because compared to most runner, it is a good time… even if it is not good FOR YOU. I’ve been disappointed with lots of races and finish times, and they did not go well due to under or over fueling, etc. But sometimes I feel like I can’t gripe about it because it’s inevitable someone will email me or talk to me and tell me that I’m reading too much into it, that I am fast, to stop comparing myself to others… and the thing is, I’m not. It’s exactly the opposite- I’m comparing myself and my times to what I know I am capable of and what I’ve accomplished. If I compared myself to others then I’d be happy with the race because I can win my age group with an easy jog in some races I’ve done just bc there aren’t many people in them.

    Thing with any race or run is you gotta get over it, good or bad. I give myself a day and then jump back in. After all it’s just a race or run, the roads are always open and there are tons each year anyway!

    1. Oh Amy you bring up such a good point about the time issue. I think some readers forget that running is still a personal matter – what is really great for one person might be a horrible time for another. To compare yourself to any runner isn’t don’t you any favors!

      1. Thanks…. and you know how you feel during the race, fueling, etc. The only thing someone else sees is the time on the finish clock and the time never tells the whole story, never.

        BTW I wrote more on that comment that I’ve written at work today… and I write for a living. Oops. Essay comment!

    2. I agree, however, I somewhat just ignore those comments telling me oh it was a great time. If it was a bad time for me it was. We all have things we are good at and things we are not as good at.

      Exactly though, you can find a road race every weekend so there is no need to worry about an individual one.

    3. Running is definitely a personal matter! Just because A is faster than B, doesn’t mean that they don’t experience bad races if their time meets certain standards… including Olympic athletes.

    4. Oooh…un-gendered prizing pisses me off. There was a race out here that used to be a Men Only race, and this year they opened it up to everyone – but did not gender prizes. I guess the women were just supposed to be happy they could race??? [Worse yet, it was on obstacle course race, so only were their gender/speed inequalities there were gender/strength inequalities.]

  3. Uhm…of course every single run isn’t going to rock your socks off. That is part of the game – some runs are mentally hard, some are physically hard and others are just great! Some feel longer or shorter than the actual distance but to think every run is amazing baffles me. For me, I usually have one crappy run every week where I just can’t get my head in the game or my legs feel like lead. Does it suck? Yes, but those runs make you appreciate the good ones!

  4. Amen. Worst race: BK Half. I was ready for a hella fast race and I expected it after an awesome training cycle. Then stomach pains mid-race derailed me. Came out of nowhere but what can you do. Shit happens ha. Best: NJ Marathon 2012. Perfect conditions, perfect pacing, hit my goal time. I was ecstatic!

  5. And this is one of the reasons I love reading your blog – you keep it real. I’ve honestly never really had an easy time running whenever I tried to get into it in the past, so reading blogs where the blogger is constantly saying how awesome running is was always a kick in the pants. It was like… what the heck? What’s wrong with me? And then I’d get discouraged and give up. So yes. Honestly and openness. I like it 🙂

    1. That is such a huge compliment Amanda and thank you. Honestly, every run/workout…whatever is not going to be great and by removing expectations that it is you are really freeing yourself!

  6. I so needed to read this today. I’ve been down on myself since my last half in Green Bay a few weeks ago. I didn’t even come close to my time, all of which I blame on the high humidity that left me heat stroke at the end of the race. I can honestly say that day running sucked! Thank you for a little runner honesty! 🙂

    1. Never be hard on yourself in heat/humidity. It’s too hot to set Personal records in this weather right now. Enjoy the moment and I hope you can cheer up! 🙂

  7. sometimes we gotta have bad races to appreciate the good ones even more. I had countless bad races when I was swimming and I used to make myself feel so bad about it after. So many tears were shed and my coach was always like you just gotta let it go!

  8. Worst race to date was the Maine half marathon in 2009. Awful. I didn’t train much for it and my back was stiff and each by mile 10. Hoping to change that with my second half in July.

  9. I love everything about this post. I’m one of those runners who lets a bad run fester and I beat myself up over it. I’m trying to get better at that and not compare myself to others so much, but it’s definitely a challenge. My worst race: sadly, from a purely running standpoint, it was this past year’s Disney Wine and Dine. I wasn’t prepared to run in the heat after training in the cold fall weather up here, my fueling was off because it was a night race, and I ended up running it so much slower than I was trained to run it. I should never have gone into that race looking for a PR – I should’ve treated it like my other Disney race (Tinkerbell) and just stopped for pictures and had fun. Because I ran this with my best friend in the whole world and that person stuck by my side the entire, awful, 2 hrs and 33 minutes, it was still one of my favorite races ever. My best race: It’s a tie. The Martian Half back in April because I surprised the crap out of myself and set a 17 minute PR (I ran a 2:10) and then the Bayshore Half in Traverse City, MI over Memorial weekend. I PR’d again and ran a 2:07. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d run 9:40’s for 13.1 miles. Sometimes everything just falls into place and it’s definitely your day.

    1. I’m glad you came back and ran such an awesome time. There are so many races we can look back on of what we could have done differently. I honestly think those are the races that truly made us grow as runners and people in general.

  10. LOVE this, Hollie. I am so glad that you address the fact that, yes, sometimes running sucks and it feels awful and sometimes races suck too. I definitely have my off days… and weeks.. etc! It’s all part of being a runner. And it makes the good runs and races that much more special!

  11. My first race was badddd. Stomach issues = embarrassing and awful. 10 miles of potty trips. Yuck. I think this scenario goes along with everything in life, such as days at work. We all have days where we hate our jobs and I know I contemplated whether or not I’d be a good teacher about a gazillion times; however, you also have days you completely LOVE your job and realize you’re in the right place. It’s just about which days you want to focus on and how easily you can let the bad times go. I love the fact you admitted to bad races. I hate when people just make things rainbows and butterflies.

  12. I don’t do running races often, but back in the swimming days oh god gracious would there be awful awful races. Unfortunately, the negativity would get the best of me, but it is possible to turn it into forward drive instead!

    1. Good god if I went on a rant about swimming races…I had a panic attack once before the 200 fly…LOL…I swam a faster 100 in the mile then a relay…I should do a post about that…it would be humorous.

      1. Anyone setting out to do 200 fly should be panicking… (kidding. sort of.)

  13. Well you know I’ve been struggling with this lately. I definitely don’t pretend to have every run be a good one or every race be a good race. I think I actually struggle more with admitting I did a good job than having a crappy race. It’s sometimes hard to convey exactly how you feel in a race (or it is for me, at least) but just because we may pull out a half decent time doesn’t mean it felt good or was good. I’d say that the Boston half last weekend was by far the worst race I’ve had to date but all of those are learning experiences that you build from so that you don’t make the same mistakes on the next one.

  14. Silver lining running. I’m guilty of it. I know I am. I hope I’m not the worst culprit, but I know I am one. Calling myself out here. But in reality, I’m a silver lining person overall. Always looking for ways to highlight the good and to acknowledge, but minimize dwelling on the bad. If a run feels like absolute crap, it’s usually mentioned, but not maximized. In the end, I’d rather not think about it and don’t delve too deep but just move on. I think it’s more a balance of not denying the fact that sh!tty runs happen, but not letting one bad one affect your next.

    You always bring the real. And I always appreciate that you do. It forces me to take a look at myself from a more objective perspective, and I thank you for that. Genuinely.

    1. I’m not talking about highlighting the good in a run because I do that as well. I’m saying that expecting every single run to be optimal is not going to do anything for anyone. HA!

      I’m glad Chelsie and you are an incredible runner. 🙂

  15. I have had weeks where every run was awful for one reason or another; tired legs, my head hasn’t been on right, stomach issues, whatever. And the only thing that keeps me going is the hope that the next one will be better.

    My worst race was the SA RnR half last November. I had trained and was ready to have a great race, but I ran with someone and we ended up walking a lot. Walking is painful when you haven’t trained for it.

  16. Couldn’t have said it better myself! I think that’s the one thing that I’ve never really freaked out about in my running career. Yeah it sucks and sometimes I do get really mad at myself if I’m not hitting my splits in a workout (one time I actually yelled at myself on the trail….bet everyone around me thought I was crazy), but at the end of the day, I know that bad runs don’t matter because I KNOW I’m going to be out there the next day anyway. It’s only when I have like….five or six terrible runs in a row, then I’m like “okay, time to not run for a bit” lol. I think you have to endure the bad runs if you want to experience the awesome ones right!? As for my worst race….it was my first road 10k sophomore year of college. It was on Halloween but somehow 90 degrees/90% humidity (the Blue Moon Wicked 10k in VA Beach actually!!), and I was retarded and went to a frat party the night before. I puked four times in the race and it took me 50 minutes….a whole 11 minutes slower than my PR. But whatever. I came home, took a nap, and probably had a great run the next day.

    1. Exactly, you aren’t still dwelling on a race…years ago…though the wicked was is one expensive 10k LOL. I do agree though, if I’ve had a series of bad runs…that’s when I’m like oh gee maybe I should think about this a bit.

  17. I don’t do races because I’m barely starting to run. I actually just posted about how badly I hate running today so it was funny to come to your blog and see someone who is a runner say that sometimes there are bad runs. Obviously I feel like all of mine are, but it’s nice to know that even good runners have off days.

  18. Oh boy…I love the honesty here. I have seriously had SO many “bad” races (terrible GI issues) and race probably what comes out to every other weekend throughout the year…and as we know all of them are not going to be perfect, yay I PR’d scenarios. I tend to also be pretty open when I have a crap run.
    My motto however has always been that every bad run makes me appreciate the oh my god this feels so easy and I am flying run ten times more. Just last night my legs felt like lead my lungs wanted to explode and 5 miles knocked the living day lights out of me…and I ran a 50K a week ago. So for 5 miles to feel hard, is humbling some times! But it is all about perspective too.
    And good races…also too many too count. Of course my PR races mean a lot but I have run so many with friends and for fun that they stand out too.
    I just love running and racing. Plain and simple. Every last bit of it both good and bad.

  19. My first race (Women’s Half Marathon) coming off an injury. Perfect weather and the first 8 miles were great, then it turned to crapola really fast and I basically walked the last 3.5 miles. Felt like garbage in every way possible for the entire day after. But I was pretty happy to at least get a pretty palm tree medal. Going for redemption this year.

  20. I had a terrible XC race in high school (I didn’t think I was running that night, ate poorly/didn’t hydrate) and I actually was the reason we lost the meet. That was the worst feeling… at that age, it’s so difficult to move on from something like that.

    All that being said, bitching (or bragging) about runs kind of lets me forget the day before and move on into the next run. I’m the kind of person where I need to talk things out in order to put them behind me/get over it. So for me, my blog is basically a way to keep track of my training day to day, how I felt, and where I can improve… without writing it all down, I don’t feel like I’m advancing because I don’t remember my runs this week as compared to whenever. Did I feel good when I ran that tempo run 3 weeks ago compared to yesterday? What did I eat before that awesome run last Tuesday? Etc. But that’s just the way I choose to track my training.

  21. Omg this is so unbelievably true. Bad runs are just part of the territory. I try to remind myself that you can’t have the best workout/run ever, every single time. Or else how would it be the best? Pushing through on those tough days is what makes you better.

  22. Definitely needed to read this post today. Even though I’m tapering for this weekend, my workouts this week haven’t gone as well as I would’ve liked. I’m putting in the time and getting them done, but they haven’t been “clicking.” Hopefully this is just a phase that wears off by Saturday–and if not, then what can you do? … but hopefully these workouts are just building mental strength. 😉

  23. This reminded me of my last half marathon in Indianapolis. It was a horrible one. We were running in sleet for a few miles and that hurt my face a lot. Totally did not expect that.

  24. Call me naïve, but I can’t imagine NOT having bad races. Races are runs. There are bad (if you’re me plenty of em) running days.
    This sounds crazy, but after all of my injuries, I kinda relish the bad runs. They remind me that I am a runner, and suffering like all runners do. They suck but I’m thankful I am running and not ellipticaling because of an injury.

  25. I’ve been really fortunate in races this year – but I only ran two so far and I didn’t have recent times to beat. I P.R.’d in both obviously but was VERY happy with the times. I guess the worse of the two was when a chick physically pushed me back when the gun went off at the starting line. I felt like I started way too fast but my splits ended up being pretty even. I beat the chick by more than 6 minutes and had enough juice to out-sprint another in the same race.

    My next race is a half so we’ll see about that….

  26. Did you forsee my race recap?? haha cause that race SUCKED. SUCKED. SUCKED. but yep..there will be bad ones and I hit the wall at mile 10 and it was def not my day. oh well onward and upward..i’m over it 🙂

  27. I think this issue of “perfect runs” is also a symptom of blog-world-ness where it’s like everything has to be picture perfect. Psh, I’ve had my fair share of bad runs. I did a 5k super hung over once (ok, that was my own fault. Trust me, there is a story there) and I’ve had some runs that were just AWFUL. But I tell myself the bad runs make the good ones more fun 😉

  28. Amen. This is actually so great to hear from a crazy good runner like yourself. I definitely don’t put as put time and effort as you do into running, but I still always expect to be awesome, which clearly doesn’t happen. Those bad runs are helpful in being realistic with this whole game called running, but man do they suck. All for the best I guess!

  29. I think this is one of the problems on Daily Mile… People always feel the need to say they felt great. Honestly I come back from each run feeling accomplished but that does not mean it was a good one and I felt great. Not so great runs or terrible ones prove we are human and not freaks of nature! But I like that even with your worst races you stay positive on here. Honestly there is no reason to not stay positive, it gets you back out there!

  30. I’m glad you blogged about this! I definitely do think this happens, not only just for running but in general. Bad races will happen but you can’t have the good without the bad because if you did then you wouldn’t appreciate the good! Thanks for being positive Hollikins!

  31. Amen! I fully support a blogger’s right to pick-and-choose what he/she (eh, who am I kidding…SHE) writes about, but at the same time, this is a very important reminder for everyone!

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