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7 reasons you had a bad run

Run coach John Honerkamp explores possible reasons why your easy run didn’t feel that easy after all.

There are few things more exhilarating and adrenaline inducing than a great run. Whether you crushed your track session or breezed through a long training run – the runner’s high that follows is equal parts thrilling and satisfying.

But when a run isn’t good, it’s bad – and bad runs happen all the time. Why, though?

“Bad runs happen to everyone,” says run coach John Honerkamp, a consultant for New York Road Runners and a former Olympic Trials 800-meter qualifier. Here are seven reasons your run may have been far from podium-worthy.

1. You’re overtraining

It’s hard to tell you’re overtraining when you’re in the throes of it. Take a look at your training log and assess your frequency of rest and recovery days. You may be running or cross-training too much and not giving yourself enough time off.

“If this is the case – expect many bad runs,” says Honerkamp. (Keep an eye on your resting heart rate. If you’re overtraining, your resting heart rate may become consistently elevated.)

2. You’re marathon training

When you’re training for a 26-mile run, your perspective starts to shift. Before marathon training, a long weekend run may have been eight miles – now it’s 18 miles.

“Once you start marathon training, you may begin to underestimate those shorter regular runs,” says Honerkamp. “Your focus turns to those monster long runs – so you may expect the shorter ones to feel easy all the time.” No so – though! An “easy four-miler” can kick your butt as hard as a 20-miler if your body is exhausted or if you didn’t take it easy enough.

3. You’re stressed

Emotions – even underlying ones – play a major role in how our bodies perform. Even if you don’t feel stressed, your body probably feels it – and your running stands to suffer as a result. If you’re not sleeping well or your body is constantly tense, you won’t be able to run the way you normally expect.

“Though running can also be a great stress reliever,” Honerkamp says.

4. You’re getting sick

Our bodies tend to know we’re getting sick before our brains fully acknowledge it – and before we give into the impending illness.

“Your body might be coming down with a cold or flu – but you haven’t realized it yet,” says Honerkamp. Err on the side of extra rest or easy runs in favor of hard workouts to see how your body reacts. Anyone who says, “You never regret a workout” has probably never run through a rapidly rising fever.

5. You’re not recovered

“If you ran a hard workout the day before, there’s a good chance you’re not recovered yet,” says Honerkamp. “Even if your body feels decent or you’re not sore, your run the day after a serious effort may be sufficiently crappy.”

6. You’re traveling

“Maybe you’re at altitude and haven’t acclimated yet,” says Honerkamp. Maybe you’re fresh off a long, uncomfortable flight, or you’re in a totally different time zone. Plus, if you’re traveling somewhere the weather is different than what you’re used to – there’s a good chance your run will suffer accordingly.

“Weather can be a sneaky culprit,” says Honerkamp. “I do terrible when it first gets cold or first gets hot. My body isn’t used to the new weather yet, and it needs time to adjust and acclimate. Or maybe the temperature is perfect, but then the humidity can kick your butt.”

7. You have no idea

“Sometimes bad runs just happen,” says Honerkamp. “Don’t dwell on it, move on and keep running.”

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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