Having a Bad Day

This week’s coaches tip comes from AC Tony. Tony prides himself on making every mistake in the book… and living to tell about it.

HAVE A BAD DAY…No Really. Striving for perfection and control will leave you unprepared on race day. I’ve had more bad days than you (in running). Practicing and learning to deal with the adversity will help you in two ways.

1. You will become better by learning what went wrong gaining experience.
2. You gain confidence that you can do well even if things aren’t perfect.

There is no substitute for putting in work on a consistent level for an extended period of time to be prepared for a race. Odds are you will have success. However there are days you can do everything right and still have a bad day. There are also days when you have no business running as well as you did even though you were unprepared. I have had my share of both.

If we learn from our mistakes, then I’m one of the world’s most knowledgeable runners of all time. I’m going to share some of this information with you.

The first thing I learned is that all runners are neurotic and there are two types. Beginners and experienced runners.

Beginning runners are fun neurotic. They don’t know anything but they’ll latch on to any little piece of information that they hear/read/see/smell/taste because they think might give them an edge to run faster or look cute. It could be the obvious that it’s the worst ever and it’s from an unreliable source but they’ll even go as far as defending it.

Experienced runners are neurotic because they obsess about minute details and it’s annoying. They’ve gotten so good at controlling all of the little details that make them successful they’re not good at dealing with things that are out of their control or when things don’t go as planned. They might struggle with flexibility and change too. Some admit it’s a fault but can’t do anything about it. The worst is the one that thinks their way is the best for you.

Both types of runners are stubborn. One has no idea what contributes to success. The other might be too unwilling to change to try and achieve more success or unable to enjoy a good run because it wasn’t good enough.

My message to you is that adversity does NOT care about your race plan or goals or your assumptions. It only cares about showing up at inconvenient times. It’s not a matter of IF adversity will happen. It’s a matter of WHEN.

BIG SECRET #1: As bad as Adversity is, it’s usually the only thing that can penetrate the neurotic runner’s defenses deep enough into the brain so your body releases a hormone that allows you to consider the possibility of change.

I’ll repeat that. At an inconvenient time, Adversity shows up and forces you to decide how you’re going to respond. You can choose to deny its existence or accept it for what it is and make an adjustment. All I know is, the sooner you stop doing something that is not working…the better. This took me quite a while to figure out.

BIG SECRET #2: The more adversity you deal with THE MORE CONFIDENT you are as a runner. Even if you refuse to learn from any of your mistakes. The better you are at handling it and the more confidence you have going into race day. Adversity is anything not going as planned. Marathons are hard enough. Imagine everything in your training has gone perfect so far but now at mile 18 Adversity shows up. Chances are you won’t know what to do. So you’ll fight it, prolong it and make it worse.

My message to you is to look forward to having a bad day before your race. This will give you valuable experience in dealing with adversity. Very few races go as planned. Don’t let it frustrate you too much. Let yourself walk, stop, eat drink, stretch as needed if necessary. You’re goal is to move forward towards the finish. Try to make adjustments that allow you to keep doing this.

You can’t force a GOOD DAY. You only put yourself in a position to LET IT HAPPEN. It’s possible to cause yourself to have a BAD DAY, but it’s just as likely something outside of your control (weather, work, illness). I’ve spent the better part of 12 years learning what does and doesn’t work and I’ve boiled my goals down to these:

1. Avoid bad days whenever possible
2. Minimize their impact on runs/race day.
3. Not turn a good day into a bad day.

Keep up the good work. And here’s to more good days than bad days.

-AC Tony