Without the bad, how can we appreciate the good?
Bad days are going to happen. There are days you do not want to get out of bed, days you feel sick, days your legs feel heavy, days your motivation is shot, days you are mentally fried and physically exhausted. What are you supposed to do on those days? What happens to the goals and the consistency when you just aren’t feeling it that day?
This episode is a bit of a reality check. As runners, we are motivated to push through pain and struggle. That most of what the sport is about. So, while we cover the benefits of gutting it out and pushing through a rough patch, we also spend some time trying to decide when it is actually a good idea to pull back.
First, let’s be clear. Everyone struggles. From the new runners to the veteran elite, everyone as emotional and motivational ups and downs. While you cannot control events that may sidetrack you, you can control how you handle the adversity. You are in charge of your emotions, and those emotions shape the world around us. If one small negative event gets you upset or angry, you will start to find more reasons to stay angry. While choosing an outlook of gratitude and happiness is simple, it requires practice because it is hardly easy.
If the bad days are inevitable, and as real life runners with the stress of jobs and families they are, then how do we handle them. We can choose to tough it out and force our way through the struggle. We can cave and experience negative emotions, illness, or injury. Or, we can carefully look at each situation, and decide how to deal with that specific case.
Sometimes, we can benefit from running through a minor illness, or a mentally frazzled day. We can find out we are in better shape than we thought, or that we are capable of digging deeper than we may have believed. When the exhaustion just keeps building, and you are not fully showing up for your running life, or family, or work, then it is time to take a break and pull back on the intensity or volume.
The path we choose comes from deeply considering our priorities in life and then basing all of our decisions on that list. When you have a high priority, you need to overcome a tough day, but lower priorities can be skipped or adjusted.
Finally, the priority list also lets us see which events will require our best and which events require our good enough. While we are always touting the path of striving for greatness, there are events that cannot be adjusted or moved. Sometimes greatness is saying “next time.” Sometimes greatness is giving everything you have even if it is less than 100%. Ultimately, running, and of course life itself, is an experiment. Make the best decision you can and learn from the results. Run on.
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