I never thought I'd get to the point where running was fun. After muddling through it in high school, the thought of setting out to run because I wanted to seemed like something I'd never do. But flash forward 15 years and I count running as my favorite past time and a defining part of who I am.
But as much as I love the way a run makes me feel, not every time I step out to log some miles is a success. Not every run is a good one. Beyond that, not every workout class I attend with a friend — IRL or virtual — leaves me riding that high of endorphins.
It can be hard to bounce back from a bad workout, but doing so is essential for any athlete regardless of level. Just as in relationships, accepting the bad along with the good is a part of the deal and only shows dedication. Now, that doesn't mean it's easy to do. It's taken me several years of bad runs, grumpy spin classes, and strength training sessions that just didn't go according to plan to figure out three things I need to do to get over a bad workout.
Take a long walk
There's a running joke among my friends that I walk everywhere. And it's true. I'll take a long walk any day of the week to clear my mind. So when a bad workout strikes and I'm left doubting myself, I do exactly what my friends joke is my other favorite past time — I walk. At the end of a run, in the middle of one, whenever — I hit the pavement. Doing so helps me remember that the reason I run is to challenge myself, and challenges aren't meant to be easy. A walk may seem simple, but it still gets my body moving and gives me a lower impact cardio session that just might be what I need to recover and hit the ground running the next day.
Roll out the yoga mat
I've been turning to yoga and mindfulness a lot during these quarantine times. So when my body just doesn't feel right after exercise, I give it a different kind of workout. I roll out that yoga mat, change into my yoga-ready leggings like the UA Meridian Crop ($60), and clear my mind. The slow flows, deep stretches, and mental breaks are a form of recovery that not only my body needs but also my mind when feeling the weight of a bad workout.
Because not every workout is going to be for the record books, the most important thing I can do for myself is to keep going. Nothing gets me over a less-than-ideal day quite like persistence. For me, this can include powering through a run where my legs feel heavy or vowing to complete all the reps of a HIIT class despite feeling beat. And if tomorrow's workout still doesn't feel strong, well then that's OK too. Because ultimately, doing the work is just as meaningful as the outcome. Once I remind myself of that fact, that bad workout doesn't seem so important.