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One Tip Wednesday: How to get through a bad patch

Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Slump. Up. Down. Repeat.

Such is the relationship we have to running. It’s a wonder we don’t quit at the first “down” we hit. Well, I guess some of us do. But if you’re reading this, you know what I mean and have probably bounced up and down a bit yourself.

Of course, there are so many reasons we end up in bad patch or feeling down.

  • Lack of motivation
  • Injury or illness
  • Too sleep deprived to even get out there
  • Feeling out of shape
  • Feeling slow
  • Bad race day
  • Didn’t make it to race day
  • Will I ever have a race day?
  • Or maybe just a crappy running day that made you feel like crawling back in bed rather than leaping to the tallest building in a single bound

And for long distance runners, a “bad patch” usually means a really hard spot somewhere during your long run or race.

Whether it’s a bad patch in a long run or a long season, today I want to chat about one of my favorite ways to get through it. Now, it’s not fluffy or woo woo. It’s not sugar-coated. It’s not brain surgery or rocket science.

But it has worked for me and others many many times. Are you ready?

the TIP: How to get through a bad patch –  Remember that you can do anything for 20 minutes


Yup, it’s that simple.

There are tons of times you’ve stuck it out or sucked it up for 20 minutes:

  • Science pop-quiz in 5th grade
  • Waiting for a bank teller on a Friday afternoon
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Mammogram
  • Braiding your daughter’s hair “just right”
  • Listening to your 14-year-old describe how mobs took over his Minecraft world
  • All the other runs you did that were hard

Just whip this little strategy out whenever you need it:

  • If you can’t fathom getting out of bed for a 5 miler, go for 20 minutes
  • If that hill looks too long and daunting, hike for 20 minutes
  • If you want to quit at mile 18 of a marathon, just run for 20 minutes (then another and another)
  • You can get a decent speedwork session done in 20 minutes

And for trail hounds…. Those bad patches can be pretty yucky, especially if they keep coming back on the same long run or race. Narrowing down or segmenting that time into smaller bits can help you focus on an immediate solution (hydrating, fueling, pacing, etc). Drilling down into what your needs are for just 20 minutes can help you move through the rough spot.

the WHY


Because simple is sometimes best. And over-thinking leads to over-thinking. (This is what my funny, therapist husband likes to say.)

Seriously, though, I LOVE simple solutions. This one helps you get over the hump, but still make it happen. And success breeds success. If we give ourselves just 20 minutes to succeed, it can lead to another 20, another day, another season, another “UP”!!

And whether you’re up or down, I believe in you!

Have you ever given yourself a time limit and just did the task at hand for that long? What other strategies do you use for getting through a bad patch? Let me know below!

Whatcha think? Throw me a comment here - thanks!