SURE, it started out like a great run, in your head, before you left the house. The walk down the driveway was okay too. But then, there it was, the first footfall came off the pavement like lead and you knew you were destined for at least thirty minutes of “I don’t want to do this,” a motto that starts to shape your running relationship for the worse.
Find Your Running Relationship Issue. You Can Fix it.
Maybe you did a mental pep talk, but it fell flat and you forced a promise to yourself: at least three miles, because running anything under for you is just not acceptable. Under three means you will count today as a “no exercise day,” because you just didn’t do enough to warrant that type of positive reinforcement. So, you slogged away, finishing at least three miles with heavy legs, no energy, and the dark cloud of disappointment shadowing your morning. Threatening thoughts clouded your cool down. Are you suddenly completely out of shape? Has your love for running disappeared? The mental list goes on and on and it sours your day, making you feel less than adequate and you go through the motions, letting one bad run, spoil your day and your running relationship.
Yesterday you loved running, but today, not so much, what gives? We’ve all had those “bad” runs that make us question our sport of choice, but don’t allow them to become a burden. Find the issue, fix it. Go through this list to troubleshoot for your answer and give yourself peace of mind so you can feel good about getting back on the road again!
- LACK OF SLEEP. If you had a restless night or stayed up too late watching “just one more episode,” you may not have given your body enough time to recover from the day’s activities. Our bodies are like computers; they need to recharge, refresh, and update systems to protect against potentially harmful invaders or malfunctions. If you don’t give your body the opportunity to reboot properly, then you put yourself at risk, including lowering your immune system, making you feel weak and moody. Make yourself a sleep schedule and try to stick to it, a straight 7 to 9 hours of solid sleep is recommended.
- WHAT YOU EAT OR DON'T EAT can play a huge role in your athletic performance. As a runner, you’ve probably made a joke or two about carb-loading as you reach for that third slice of pizza, but in reality this is what could be weighing you down. Studies show that a regular, balanced diet of clean, non-processed foods will optimize your health, so it makes sense that eating whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will give you the energy you need for a long, happy run. Eat a healthy dinner the night before. Pre-fuel in the morning with an energizing banana and a scoop of almond butter (check out our Healthy Recipes and Meals Swaps for various ideas).
- MUSCLE STRENGTH & RECOVERY. Sometimes, as everyday athletes, we put pressure on ourselves to work out regularly and if we take a day off we feel like we’re slacking, but this should not be the case. We need to give our bodies the respect they deserve which includes listening to them. If you wake up feeling stiff, then there it is: your body is talking to you. Listen to it. You cannot expect to run your usual nine-minute-mile pace if your quads and joints are screaming at you from yesterday’s HIIT workout. Recovery days don’t mean you can’t work out at all, in fact moderate exercise is recommended for mild muscle soreness, such as a long walk outside, purposeful stretching exercises or thirty minutes of low resistance on the elliptical. This will encourage re-growth and strengthening of muscle fibers. Make a workout schedule for the week with built-in recovery days, but allow yourself flexibility if you need more time to recover.
- IGNORING AN INJURY is an unnecessary risk that threatens your active lifestyle. If you have a constant, aching pain or something that flares up repeatedly, pay attention to it and seek medical advice if there are no signs of improvement. Injury will slow you down and alter the way you feel during running. Pushing through the pain may make you feel committed to your fitness, but it could end up setting you back. Take the time off needed until you are properly healed.
- IF YOU HAVE THINGS WEIGHING ON YOUR MIND, they can bring down your mood, energy, and concentration. When we let these stressors overwhelm us, they can infiltrate every aspect of our life, including our activities. Exercise is said to be a stress reliever, so help yourself by making sure you can utilize it as one. Negative thoughts can be consuming, even if you tell yourself to ignore it. Make a plan when the stress sneaks up on you. A mantra is helpful to re-focus on the present moment, even something as simple as “running time is my time” will remind you that negativity has no place in your run.
- IF YOU'RE LIKE A LOT OF BUSY WOMEN, you try to rush your run because you feel bad that you’ve taken this time for yourself, worrying that someone might need you while you are off on your own. This guilt is common for women, especially if we feel like we need to be available to others at all times. Whether this comes as a by-product of being a mother, wife, student, or employee, we feel like taking care of ourselves is second to everything else. If being more accessible will put your mind at ease, make sure to take your phone with you in one of SportPort™ Sports Bras, where your phone will stay snug, safe and right there with you.
Does following this running relationship guide mean you will never have a bad run again? Probably not, but implementing these strategies will help reduce the chance of one creeping up on you. Regardless, if one does, just remind yourself that you have a reason for running and whatever that is, it’s helping you live an active, healthy, lifestyle. Don’t let a “bad” run stop all that good.
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