Getting Through a Difficult Run

Getting Through a Difficult Run

tips for difficult runs


Last weekend was my final long run before racing the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I was only planning to run 10 miles, because a problem with my foot and an early-season respiratory infection made me miss my scheduled 14-miler the week before.
Going into it, I was actually thinking what an easy run it would be – the sun was shining, I was feeling great, and it was only 10 miles. (Side note: when did I become someone who’s happy when they *only* have to run 10 miles?)
But, after about 5 minutes, the suck started.
It was cold. And windy. Dried leaves were flying around and one poked me in the eye. Someone texting and driving almost clipped my right arm with his side mirror. My legs felt like someone had removed my muscles and replaced them with wet sand. Then the clouds rolled in and the rain started.
Suckity, suckity, suck.
But since this was my last chance to get a long run in before my big race for the year, I had to embrace the suck.
There are lots of ways to get yourself through a tough run – including white-knuckling your way through it and suffering the entire time. Note: this is not recommended. It results in a lot of whining and complaining (especially on Facebook).
Here are some other options:
  • Tell yourself you can quit if it ever gets too hard.
    This one sounds simple, but it can be a game changer. What it really means is that, with each step, you’re making an active choice to continue, rather than feeling like you’re being forced to go on a death march. It’s a bit of reverse psychology, really. By telling yourself that quitting is always a choice, suddenly that option becomes a lot less attractive.


  • Scan your body
    If your run sucks because (you think) your body hurts, take a few moments to really investigate. Start with your toes, and slowly scan upwards to the top of your head, paying close attention to whether you’re experiencing pain, fatigue, injury, or just plain old discomfort and boredom. If it’s the latter, realize that you can keep running if you’re physically or mentally uncomfortable. But, if there’s actual pain, you should stop running and take action.


  • Put your mind to work.
    Just like a toddler, an unsupervised mind will get into trouble, so give it something to do that will keep it busy. I like to use my long runs to solve problems (I also do this when I swim laps). Sometimes it’s math – doing fractions in my head, in particular – but sometimes I’ll try to come up with creative solutions to issues I’m having in my life. I’ve taught myself how to use the dictation feature on my phone in case I come up with a really great idea that I want to remember. And some of my favorite blog posts were actually composed in my head when I was bored while running!


  • Take it one step at a time.
    And I mean literally. Instead of thinking about how far you have to go, focus on getting through the next interval, to the next telephone pole, or through the next song.


  • Know that it will be over eventually and that you will survive. 
    Remember the last time you stood on line at the DMV to renew your license? And you were there for 2 hours before it was your turn? Yep, that sucked. But you never considered leaving because you had a task to complete. You also knew that, if you hung around long enough, it would be completed and you could go home. It might not have been the most fun way to spend your morning, but you lived through it. Sometimes a tough run is exactly like that.


  • Imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re done…
    …and how disappointed in yourself you’ll be if you stop early. When all else fails, this is usually the thought that gets me through. Because, no matter how much a run sucks, the guilt I will feel if I let myself quit early without a solid reason will be much, much worse.


Additional Running Resources

Runner’s Toolkit – Get access to 30 days of free coaching tips by email and get your #1 running question personally answered by me, just for signing up. Plus get free access to our private Facebook community where other RunBuzz community members gather for support, camaraderie and general shenanigans.

Find out how you can support RunBuzz’s mission to bring quality running content (educational, inspirational, etc) to the running community. Did you know it takes approximately 8-10 hours of work to research, record, edit and release each podcast episode? Help support us in our mission to make every runner regardless of age, size and ability a better runner. Your support helps keep future RunBuzz podcast episodes ad-free and new episodes coming.


tips for difficult runs

Share RunBuzz with friends!

About the Author Jill Angie

Jill is a personal trainer, coach, runner, triathlete, blogger and author, who wants to live in a world where everyone is free to feel fit and fabulous at any size. She writes about the joys and challenges of being a curvy runner, and shares her experiences, knowledge and expertise to help her readers embrace their inner athlete. In addition to running, she has an unbridled passion for kettlebells, cupcakes, champagne, fuchsia and murder mysteries (not necessarily in that order).

follow me on: