Make the Most Out of a Bad Run

If you're a runner, you have good days and bad days. On those bad days, for whatever reason, it's a struggle to pull it all together and have a decent run. This can even happen to those of us who love to run, including yours truly. It's understandable given the crazy lives that most of us lead. There are so many factors that affect our running.

With ChiRunning, there are lots of things you can do to help your run go better, should you find yourself in less than desirable straights.

To begin with, put this thought into your head: "There is no such thing as a bad run." If things aren't going exactly how you'd like them to go, when you're out on your run, it usually means that you have an opportunity to learn something new. Struggle is the food from which change is made, and the best time to make the most of a struggle is when it's right in front of your face.

Now, I know that might sound a bit simplistic. But, too often we're led to believe that struggling is a bad thing, or that we struggle because we're doing something wrong.

I disagree. I look at struggle as an opportunity to grow. True struggle happens when you can sense what is not working for you and you're willing to take the appropriate action to correct the situation. Those who accomplish change are willing to engage the struggle.

In my own ChiRunning practice, I'm constantly trying out new ways to move my body. At this point, I really don't have bad runs. But, I do have days when I struggle more than others, and those are the days when I seem to learn the most. So, here are a few tips that will hopefully help you through your next "learning opportunity."

Locate the Problem

There are generally two things that can get in your way of having an enjoyable run. It's either your head or your body. Sometimes it can be a combination of both, but I would venture to say that most problems begin in one place or the other.

The first thing to do is to figure out whether your problem is in your head or in your body. This is done by asking yourself if what is going on in your run is a thought or a sensation. It's not very difficult to separate the two. A thought is not something you can put your finger on...a sensation is.

If the Problem is in Your Head

If your mind is the culprit, you'll tend to hear some sort of internal dialog in your mind like...

  • ?I can't do this.?
  • ?Where did my energy go??
  • ?It's too far to run today.?
  • ?I don't want to be here.?
  • ?This is really no fun.?
  • ?I didn't feel this way yesterday.?
  • ?This sucks, I just want to go back to bed.

Sound familiar? These thoughts will tend to be encrypted with some sort of judgement. Then, you have to deal with a judgement that starts a negative spin, and pretty soon you're energy is down the tubes.

How to Help Your Head

If your problem is in your head, here are a couple of things you can do to counteract those devilish little voices that can hijack your run.

Don't Pick Up The Phone

That's right. If you know that it's just a voice, and your body doesn't really feel that bad, you can treat your negative voices as you would the perennial dinnertime telemarketer...don't pick up the phone. If you give energy to a negative thought, it will sap your energy. And, that won't help your situation. Just give those disparaging thoughts the cold shoulder and move onto something productive, like taking in your environment, or doing your ChiRunning focuses, or watching your breath. Before long, those thoughts will be lying in the dust somewhere way behind you. Thoughts are like plants. If you water them they'll grow. So, your "struggle" is to starve the thoughts you'd like to get rid of and "water" the thoughts you'd like to grow.

Change the Channel

I'm sure you've had the experience of having a thought stuck in your mind. It consumes your consciousness and seems to eat up all the other thoughts around it. It might not even be a negative thought. It could be a project at work or a paper that is due. These thoughts are fine, but if they take up so much energy that they're beginning to effect your running, it's time to change the channel and give your mind a break. It's not that hard to do, especially if you're doing ChiRunning. All you need to do is think of one of your favorite ChiRunning focuses and you'll have a new "channel" to direct your mind to. Then, your focus will return to your body, which is the best place to have it when you're running.

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