In Appreciation of The ‘Ugly’ Runs

On Monday I had an ‘Ugly’ run.  You know the kind.  They are diametrically opposed to the ‘Good’ runs.  Good runs make us runners anticipate doing it all over again.  They bring on runner’s highs and leave you with a feeling that anything is possible.  ‘Ugly’ runs, on the other hand, do nothing of the sort.

sidewalk close up - edited

My ‘Ugly’ run took place after work, as all my Monday runs do.  I was tired.  My legs were sore from a cross-training workout the day before.  I was mentally drained and physically exhausted.  I was cranky.  But, of course, I still went out for my run.

When I got changed, it was raining and a little chilly from the wind.  Accordingly, I threw on a lightweight jacket over my singlet and shorts.  About five minutes into my run, the rain stopped, the wind came to a standstill and the sun began peeking out.

I got hot.  Like, uncomfortably hot under my long jacket sleeves.

My thighs grumbled at me with their muscle soreness.

I got a pebble in my shoe that I stopped twice to try and fish out, only to push it down further away from my reach.

I felt dehydrated and thirsty.

The spot on my foot where my shoes had been pressing all day at work experienced sharp pains with each foot strike.

Drivers were distracted and cyclists and pedestrians were not in the mood to share the road.

It was most definitely an ‘Ugly’ run.

Reed Field and Path - edited

These are not the runs that leave me feeling exhilarated and powerful.

But I realized after I returned home that they do leave me with a deep sense of strength and resolve.  These are, to be completely and totally clichéd, character building runs in the truest sense.  These are the runs that I think of when a race is hard and I’m wondering if I have it in me.  I can remember these runs and know that I do.

And, while one might think that a run like this would leave me in as poor or worse of a state than I was when I started, it doesn’t work that way.  While I don’t finish feeling thrilled and excited about my running at that moment, I returned home on Monday with a clearer head, a diminished stress level, and a sense of pride in what I had accomplished.

So while I hope that I continue to have more ‘Good’ runs than not, these ‘Ugly’ run have their purpose, too, and it’s one that I’ve grown to appreciate.

24 comments on “In Appreciation of The ‘Ugly’ Runs

  1. Falyn says:

    I need to think of my “ugly” runs like that, a much better way to see things!

  2. MikeW says:

    Another great post!

  3. I understand ‘the clearer head’ that results regardless of how tough the run gets.

  4. Alaina Maeve says:

    We all experience runs like these; they are definitely harder to celebrate, and often pass as just “another workout”. Thank you for openly defining the great purpose and strength each of these “ugly” runs offers us! Looking forward to the good, and accepting and appreciating the bad… Happy running!

  5. genext13 says:

    I began mu run Friday that way. I was uncomfortable. I left late. I passed some shady looking guy and it felt weird. I felt like turning around many times. I did finally turn around at 5 miles (I entertained the idea of a 12 mile run but 10 would be fine). I am happy I stuck with it but it was through will only that I completed that run.

  6. colossalgarbage says:

    What a coincidence… I had one of those runs this morning. It is what it is, eh?

  7. Not being a runner, when I saw the title of your post, I thought it would be about “non-scenic” runs, LOL! I have days like this with my gym-type workouts, too.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Great post! As much as they suck, sometimes the ugly runs are the ones that make me feel most proud- Not only do I push through it, but I go back at it the next day determined to make the next run better 🙂

  9. Joanne says:

    I also maintain that without a few ugly runs, the good runs wouldn’t feel quite as good. 🙂

  10. Run and Jump says:

    My ugly runs are what I call ‘dragging the carcass’: tired at the start, tired at the end, tired at all points between. I think of them as cash in the bank for when I need extra resources on marathon day. And as I run in the evenings after work, even an ugly run helps me unwind and get the positive vibes going.

    Only lately, after 9 years of running, am I learning not to get too bothered by obstacles, human or canine or automotive, that pop up on my route. They used to spoil my run if I let them. Now I just run around them!

    • I hope I can get to that place where obstacles don’t bother me. Some days are better than others, but lately I feel like I’m constantly narrowly avoiding drivers busy texting and eating who aren’t paying much attention to runners like me!

  11. runsaltrun says:

    I had one of these today and this post was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for putting it into perspective for me!

  12. I love your perspective on “ugly” runs! Its true that we all need them to become better runners. Good for you for getting out the door and running at all when it could have been easier to just sit at home. With the weather changing I like to use rain as an excuse…I need to probably stop that! Hope your next run is a great one.

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