We all have them- runs where we feel like our legs might fall off, we want to (or maybe do) throw up on the side of the road, every step is a battle, and we’re thinking “this just isn’t what I signed up for”.  When I signed up for Lake Sonoma 50 Miler, I knew there would be days like this, but what I didn’t think about was that I might have a series of runs that felt this way.  But, I promised myself that I would share the good, bad and ugly along my journey because it’s all a part of my story.

Bad Run 1: It started last Tuesday when meetings robbed me of my lunchtime run.   Left with no other choice, I attempted speedwork in the cold after work.  Some people love running at night, but for me it usually means battling stomach issues the whole run.  My splits were ok, but I was tired and my intestines were only a few steps away from spewing out the entire run. Luckily there were no casualties and I trotted home for some sleep.

Silver lining: Nighttime runs in the moonlight can be pretty.

Unfortunate Run 2: Later that week, San Francisco finally got the rain we’d been missing all winter.  Normally the rain doesn’t phase me but heading out for Day 1 of back to back long runs at 6:30am in the pouring rain was a little defeating.  I finished my 22 miles that morning, freezing cold, lips purple, legs blocks of ice and anxious about day 2.

Terrible Run 3: The next morning I woke up early to help kick-off RUN365’s new season.  After 3 hours of meeting and chatting with runners outside of Sports Basement, it was my turn to run.  I bolted straight for the Marin Headlands, the winds on the Golden Gate Bridge almost knocking me over. I ran another 18 miles, weather cooperating, body tired.   I’d spent probably 10-12 hours in the cold, wet weather in a 2-day span with not enough rest, and like clockwork I felt a tickle in my throat and sniffles forming in my nose. I was sick.

RUN365 Kick-off was so much fun- check out this cute gear!

New trail shoes effectively broken in and muddy.

I rested for 2 days, not moving, just sleeping and watching insane amounts of Toddlers and Tiaras (definitely not proud of that).  But 2 days in bed was all I could handle.  Tuesday I was back out running, still fighting off my cold and my body lagging.

Toddlers and Tiaras: Extra incentive to NOT get sick and have to lay in bed all day.

Ugly Run 4: My final straw came yesterday when I left for my typical lunchtime jaunt.  I was determined to run tempo and take my running back into my own hands. Instead, each mile felt more labored, my legs felt heavy, my stomach was in knots, and I continued to cough and sniffle through the run.  I came back into the office and yelled, “that run felt like death!” and threw myself on the floor for dramatic effect. (Toddlers and Tiaras may have had a greater effect on me than I’d realized…)

What’s my point in sharing all of these painful tales?  Challenges and the tough days teach us so much more about ourselves than the easy days.  So I took away a few great lessons from last week. I love running, maybe a little too much.  But it’s ok for running to just plain suck sometimes; it’s ok for bad runs to happen. It’s fine for me to want to shove running down a dark stairwell.  I spent the last week trying to prove to myself that I felt great and was enjoying lacing up my shoes, when really my body was just saying “no way”.  On those days it’s ok to listen and slow the pace, cut down the mileage a little, take breaks, or even just skip a run.  I have to remember that my training plan is NOT set in stone.

But on the other side of that argument, each of these unfortunate events of the past week served as tests.  Tests proving to myself that even when all the wheels come off, there’s something stronger in my mind and spirit that propels my legs forward. I CAN run when it hurts. I fought the wind, cold, rain, sickness, and sleeplessness and still made it through my work-outs.  Training isn’t ever easy. I hope this past week was just something I can look back on as a bad few days and laugh.  If not, at least  I know I’ll be able to run Lake Sonoma even if I have stomach poisoning, there’s a violent tornado and I wake up race morning missing a leg, an arm, and a few fingers.

Have you had a terrible run lately? How do you deal with bad training days?