Five Things to Try When You’ve Failed a Run

So you’ve failed a run… now what?

5 Things to Try When You've Failed A Run1

There are days when I run a speedy 10k and feel like I could go on forever. Then, there are days when I run an easy 5k and feel like I’m going to drop dead by the second kilometre. Usually, I find the strength to push through and complete the run. It may not be my standard pace, it may be ugly, but I get ‘er done.

Every once in a while however I completely, miserably fail. This is a bad feeling overall; bad for the training plan and bad for the mental health. No one likes to fail. So what should you do if you fail a run? Here are some ideas:

1) Determine the Cause

Did you hydrate properly? What’s the weather like? Not stretching enough? Have you had a rest day lately? Tiny humans keeping you awake? There is usually a cause of your limitation, some more obvious than others. Determining the cause gives you the opportunity to learn from your poor experience, and find a way to prevent it from happening again. If it’s something out of your control, like the aforementioned tiny humans that keep you up at night and drain you of all your energy, you have a reason to focus on rather than targeting that negativity at yourself. (Disclaimer: Do not target your negativity at the tiny humans!)

2) Swap Out for a Walk or Intervals

The first couple times I failed a run, I turned around early and half ran, half crawled home to mope on the couch. Now I try to work in some walk:run intervals. If I get to the point that I can’t run any further, I shut off my Runkeeper App and enjoy a leisurely stroll. If time permits I’ll walk further than I had planned on running to balance the scales. This allows me to continue exercising with a lower impact on my worn out bod. Also, it prevents me from going home and moping on my couch. Well… I still end up there eventually, but I burn some extra calories on the way.

3) Re-evaluate Your Training Plan

If you find yourself failing often, reconsider your training plan. Perhaps you aren’t allowing yourself enough recovery time between sessions. This was a common issue for me before I scaled back on weightlifting. Running a full training plan while trying to lift heavy weights ended up as a classic example of the Law of Diminishing Returns. Once I scaled back on the weights (still heavy, but not full exertion) I experienced more success while running. Planning my rest days accordingly helped as well.

4) Re-Evaluate Your Schedule

Life is busy. I used to be an evening runner. This meant that I got up early, got myself and the kids ready for the day, went to work for 8+ hours, came home to fetch the kids, feed them supper, and do the whole bedtime ritual thing before running. By the time my feet hit the street I was already exhausted. I finally decided to give morning runs a try. It was an adjustment but ended up working really well for me. Ask yourself if your scheduled time is the best option for you. Could you run during lunch? Before breakfast? Before supper is on the table when you get home?

5) Failure is Not Trying Again

So you didn’t complete your run. So what? You got out there and gave it a shot. It’s only really a failure if you let prevent you from lacing up and trying again. Take some time, rest up, hydrate yourself, put on your runners and get back out there. You never truly fail as long as you try.