Why do some runs just suck?

why some runs just suck

You know those runs where you feel like you could keep going forever? You feel light on your feet. Nothing hurts. Your breath is calm. You’re warm but not overheated. Everything just clicks.

Those runs are great. And they always remind me why I love running.

I haven’t had one of those runs in a long time. Instead, even a short three miles feels tough these days. Why? I want to know the magic formula for a great run because after 5 years of avid running, I haven’t cracked it yet.

I went in a search of smart people with advice, and sadly, no one has the secret solution. However, there are a few pretty obvious reasons why your run might have sucked. Here’s a few for thought:

You didn’t warm up

I almost never warm up but most athletes and smart coaches recommend a good warm-up before the main event. I usually use the first kilometre or so of my run as a warm-up but experts agree that if you want to have a good run, a solid warm-up is key. A story from Paul Tonkinson, a British comedian and columnist for Runner’s World, comes to mind. He said that once he was late for ParkRun, so he ran there (about 2 miles I think), and got there sweating and out of breath, only to start back up again about 2 minutes later. Despite thinking that he actually spent all his energy before the race even started, that run was his 5K PB! Hmmm…. Maybe he’s on to something here. For more info on pre-run warmups, check out this link.

You’re not recovered

Soreness from a previous workout can negatively impact a run. Soreness, which is a result of small tears in your muscles, is totally normal, but you do need to make sure you have given your body time to rest before expecting a stellar running performance.

You’re hungover

Guilty. I schedule most of my long runs on Saturday or Sunday morning and well, after a long week at work, it’s nice to relax with friends and a few beverages in the evening. Sadly, alcohol, especially in excess dehydrates you, making for a pretty tough run the next morning. It’ll shake the hangover right out of you if you can get yourself out of bed and sweaeting, but it’s definitely not going to be a run to remember.

You’re stressed

Stress zaps your energy and when you’re stressed, your body is way out of balance. Try to find some stress-relieving tactics like yoga or meditation to help.

You didn’t sleep well

If you didn’t sleep well, you will be tired before you’ve even started a run. Your body is also more susceptible to illness if you’re tired, so rest up!

You’re in a bad mood

A bad attitude can have a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believe your run will be bad and it probably will be. Try to visualise yourself being awesome before you head out the door. It helps!

You ate a bunch of junk last night

Yeah… that late night trip to McDonald’s for nuggets? It was a bad idea. Your running is so much better if you take care of yourself. Eat well. Your body has to work harder to digest fatty foods vs. leaner, lighter food.

So basically, the reason your run sucked is because you’re having too much fun. Eat some kale. Go to bed early. Don’t get drunk. Rest. Smile. Drink water. Easy, right?



  1. April Cunningham July 7, 2016 / 5:44 pm

    Words to live by: “Eat some kale. Go to bed early. Don’t get drunk.”
    I heart you.

    • thoughtsandpavement July 7, 2016 / 5:45 pm

      Nuggets of wisdom, courtesy of M Markham 🙂

    • Tina July 7, 2016 / 10:53 pm

      Easier said than done! 😛

  2. Movin' it with Michelle July 7, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    I giggled at the hungover one. Sadly one thing I won’t give up is my wine, I just need to remember to only have a LITTLE if I am running the next day. LOL!!

    • thoughtsandpavement July 7, 2016 / 5:47 pm

      Haha. I hear ya. Unfortunately, my willpower is weak. Especially in the summer!

  3. afastpacedlife July 8, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    I don’t like warming up either. I ran PRs without warming up and I’ve had bad runs without warming up too. The only time I really need to do a warm up is if I’m doing a short really hard run (5K or less).

    • thoughtsandpavement July 8, 2016 / 1:31 pm

      I’m going to try an experiment this weekend and see if a warmup effects my 5K time 🙂

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