August 17 2017
Angela Cortez is the toughest 6-year-old runner around.
I’ve always said that bad runs make the good runs all the more enjoyable. But that does little to soften the blow when you head out the door and promptly discover your legs feel like crap. No matter what level of runner you are, you’ll have rough days, and sometimes they happen when you’re running with a friend. Do you know the feeling? Your energy’s drained and all you can think about is lying down on that nearby bench. Somewhere along the way, you utter the phrase: “Go on ahead if you need.”
Yep. I’ve been there. In the moment, conceding the run seems like the considerate, selfless thing to do. Plus, it’s not smart to push your body when you aren’t feeling well. That’s valid. However, it doesn’t always feel like it. If you’re anything like me, you feel a wave of inadequacy wash over you the second you realize you’re struggling to keep up during a run. It gets even worse when you utter it out loud. If you’re anything like me, you feel pretty weak.
But here’s the thing: you’re not. As long as you’re listening to your body and doing your best, weakness has nothing to do with it. And if you think your body is weak, consider how it felt a few days or weeks ago. Recall the good runs, and the fact that sometime soon your running friend might be feeling the same exhaustion while running with you. Suddenly, in light of all that, you’ll start to perceive yourself as a little less weak and a little more…human.
As a human, you must understand that we’re all flawed. We all have rough days. So please, give yourself grace. At the same time, give your running buddies the chance to lift you up when you’re down. Instead of the nonchalant “go on ahead,” be honest. Tell them a) That you aren’t feeling well and b) What pace or distance you think you can keep up with. That way, your friend can maybe add on when you finish or even go ahead and loop back to meet you. Or they might decide to go off on their own. Either way, any quality running buddy will give some much needed encouragement, and that might be just what you need to push through the rest of the run.
So yes, bad runs do make us even more grateful for the good runs. But when you’re having a rough one, don’t lose perspective. You are human, prone to sore muscles and sluggish legs. So is the runner next to you. Instead of wallowing in that bad run, be proud of yourself for listening to your body and doing what’s best for you. Above all, don’t let discouragement have even an iota of space in your head. The miles will pass, your legs will feel better and you’ll move on ahead.