Ever have one of those workouts where you just feel awful? I had one the other day. My plan was to walk a 2.5-mile out-and-back loop near my house that includes a big hill. I did the miles, but my legs felt like they’d been dipped in concrete, and I wanted to just give up and stroll my way home.

I used to be able to do sub 14-minute miles easily. When I got my PR at the Country Music Marathon in 2008, my pace was 13:42 per mile. As the years have gone by and my life has gotten busier, I do admit I’ve slacked off on my training. I’ve consistently completed my long weekend distances, but I’ve also severely cut back on those all-important short weekday miles. As a result, my pace has gotten much slower. At my last half marathon, Buffalo in spring 2011, my pace was 15:53 per mile.

Since my injury last August, I’ve been lucky if I can do a 16 minute mile. It’s been a long and pretty discouraging year. On Tuesday night, when my legs felt like concrete, my pace was in the mid 16s. Ugh! I want to be faster. I’m very hard on myself when I think I can do better. But the truth is, my legs were heavy and tired, my foot was sore (which really means my leg was sore – still hard to get my brain around that one), and it was hot and humid.

Last night I went out again. Two miles this time – the same route, minus the big hill. My first mile was slow, almost 17 minutes per mile. And the second? Under 15! I was so happy. I haven’t walked that fast or that well in over a year.

My ninth half marathon is September 23rd. Every day – and especially after a bad workout – I try to remind myself of where I was a year ago (in a walking boot, miserable to be a spectator while my Gang was queing up at the start line). I remind myself that finishing at all this year will be a huge accomplishment, no matter what the clock says. (Still, I hope it’s under 3:30.)

It’s easy to get down on yourself after a bad workout. The best advice I can give you is to shake it off, appreciate what your body was able to accomplish that day, and lace up your sneakers the next day and give it another try. You might surprise yourself!