10 Reasons for a Bad Run

We were in Memphis last Monday and I had a god awful run. I was so excited to run in Memphis for the first time but despite having fresh legs, I spent a good bit of the “run” walking. This got me thinking about reasons why bad runs happen.

1. Change in Diet

Before ending up in Memphis we’d been in Mississippi, and I spent most of my time eating my way through the state. And not just a lot of food, but a lot of high fat fried food, which isn’t normal for me for days at a time. 

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich (with cheese, bacon, and sauce because it’s the south)


Pan seared (butter!) catfish


Fried Seafood Platter

While delicious, these foods aren’t the best stuff to have in my system the days before I run. I was severely lacking in fruits and veggies. 

2. Pre-run fuel

I had a little Gatorade when I woke up in Memphis but since it was a hotel I didn’t have the stuff I normally have at home before I run. At home I wake up an hour before I run and have coffee and oatmeal and allow my body plenty of time to wake up first. In Memphis I basically got up and headed out. My body was probably still asleep and confused about why we were moving without anything in our stomach. 

3. Lack of a Plan

I’m a planner. When I run I need to have an idea of the minimum time I’ll be running, whether I’m running fast or slow, and most importantly, where I am going. I used my phone’s map to get an idea of where to run but the map didn’t tell me how runnable the streets were so I had to adjust on the fly. I had a general plan, to run to the river, which I did.  


And then I planned to head back through the city, which I did.  

 But there was a lot of construction to avoid, which made the run choppy. Lots of stopping to figure out where to go. I did make it to Beale street, part of my plan.  


 The lack of focus and having to stop so much for traffic and to figure out my route made me feel really unmotivated to run continuously. So I didn’t. 

4. Lack of Inspiring Scenery

I do like to run around people as people watching me is normally good motivation to keep running, but I also like to run around beautiful things. Beale street is exciting and fun at night but looks like a trash can on Monday morning.   


Even the Cardinals’ AAA stadium wasn’t doing it for me.  

I need some trees and animals on my run.  

5. Pre-Run Hydration

Since it was vacation, I did do plenty of hydrating, but it probably wasn’t the best kind for running.  


Beer and coffee that’s basically a milkshake, yes please. 

I can work beer into my running routine but not at the expense of water, which I drink constantly at home but not nearly as much on road trips. 

6. Weather 

Tracy thinks Memphis was more humid than I’m used to, and she’s probably right. I did a long run Sunday morning and St. Louis has recently gotten a lot of rain and these were the conditions. 


Humidity in St. Louis is back and oh does it make it difficult to run. I was able to crank out 8 miles but I felt like I was dragging myself down the path the last couple of miles. I’m hoping I can get my body to adjust; if not, the treadmill might be my best bet. I just don’t perform as well in humidity. 

7. During Run Hydration

I wore my waist belt on my Sunday run but drank all the water very early on. I knew this would be fine because I would be passing a water fountain later on my run. The last miles of my run were almost all in the sun. 


The thing that kept me moving it was knowing that each step I took was getting me closer to my water fountain. Finally I arrived! 

 And the water fountain was turned off. I kept hitting the button, hoping for a different result, but alas, no. Had I been able to drink something at that point my last couple of miles wouldn’t have felt so much like death.  

8. New Accessories

I just got these wireless headphones.  


The Memphis run was the first run I wore them and they kept sliding on the back of my head. My ponytail caused difficulty in placing the back part at an ideal spot. Since then I’ve run without a ponytail and they stay in place better than this first run but the jury is still out. 

9. Out of Normal Routine

During the week I get up at 5:15am, have my coffee and oatmeal, and begin working out by 6:15 or 6:30. I’m so used to this that I wake up at 5:15am on the weekends (I go back to sleep). I’m a creature of habit and I think any deviation from my normal routine means there is a chance I won’t perform like I normally do.

10. No Reason at All!

That said, after years of running I’ve learned bad runs just happen from time to time with no logical explanation at all. I’ve had great runs after work when I’ve been starving; I once won my division in a 5k after having several beers the night before.  


Bad running experiences can be just as random as good ones. The good thing about bad runs is once they are out of the way I can normally look forward to my next runs being great, which they have. I just have to keep getting out there! 


    5 responses to “10 Reasons for a Bad Run

    1. Carol Burkholder

      I loved reading this, Nora! You and Tracy travel to so many interesting places.
      Love, Aunt Carol

    2. I loved this post too, and the pictures!

    3. It’s crazy how many things can throw off your run! Sometimes I swear there’s no rhyme or reason that I can figure out, though. Some days it’s great and easy and other days my legs feel leg dead weight under me. I’d say that fueling and sleeping pattern are biggies for me.

      • Oh yes sleep is another thing that can affect me. More so if I haven’t slept well over a period of time; one night (like before a race) doesn’t seem to affect me.

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