I am going to make a confession.
Sometimes, I have a bad day.
Yes, I really do have them. And yes, they really do happen to everyone. But bad days are only as bad as you make them out to be, and only truly become bad if you let them influence you in a negative manner. They can be hard to come back from, it can be hard to move forward, but you have to learn. Yes, learn. Don’t be afraid to do that.
When I say I have a bad day, I mean a bad day. I entered a half-marathon in September – it would be my first attempt at the distance since my nagging hip/back/hamstring pain had sidelined a great deal of my training. I had been building up my mileage, I was feeling good, and the weekend before the race, I easily cruised through my 12-mile run in under 90 minutes. Bring it on, I said.
Race day brought perfect conditions, but already upon waking up, I was feeling…off. I felt tired. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t get motivated and excited. That’s ok, I thought, once the gun goes off I’ll be fine. The gun sounds, and the pounding of feet take over the road. I hit the first mile in 6:18. I told myself this wasn’t bad for just getting back, even if it wasn’t where I wanted to be. But my legs were heavy. That 6:18 felt almost like a sprint. By mile 3, thoughts of logging my first DNF were already in my head. I started to cry. I was so upset and frustrated that this wasn’t turning into the race I had hoped. By the half-way point I was mad. I hated this. I hated running. I hated racing. Why do I do this sh*t? It’s hard. I swore. I tried to run faster. I blew up. And then…I gave up.
I. Gave. Up. I stopped caring. I -and I can’t believe I am going to admit to this – stopped, and walked. For the first time, in a 13.1-mile race, I walked. More than once. I was struggling to keep a 10:30 pace. I was a former nationally-ranked race walker who could walk a mile in 7 minutes! And now I couldn’t even run that fast! I’m a half-marathon course record holder, and I’m now falling to the back! I’m a national champion triathlete! I’ve been to a world championship! This doesn’t happen to me!
But it did, and it does. To anyone and everyone. No matter how you’ve prepared, anything can happen come race day. The only thing that will keep you going after this is your attitude. I came to terms with this performance, because I later realized some things. 1) I was out of balance – mentally, emotionally, even my physical training wasn’t quite on par to handle the load that day, and I knew this. 2) It’s not the end of the world. I know who I am, and what I am capable of. And I know that I will do it. So, I picked myself back up, and continued on. I am not about to let that bad day have any more of my time.
If you listen too long to complaint, to negativity, you might start to believe it. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s hard, I know.
Tina, you may say, this is not recent, why are you telling us this? What has it got to do with anything? Well, for one, I felt I should confess. Two, because I can tell you with certainty right now, that this won’t be the last time I’ll be writing about a bad day. But I won’t let it cloud the numerous good ones that I have already had, and will have.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”
– Marcus Aurelius