Fall race season is in full swing. Sometimes things go well. Sometimes they don’t.
And having a bad race is pretty much the worst. Yes, there are horrible things going on in the world but in the moment you cross that finish line after a less than ideal performance things can get emotional. It’s important to remember that bad races happen and don’t mean the end of your running career. Look how gracious Meb was after a not-so-wonderful Olympic experience! We’re not all that talented but we work hard for those PRs and it hurts to miss a goal. Here are 3 ways to bounce back after a challenging race:
Vent: Be angry and sad and frustrated. Feel all of the feelings. Let it all out so you can move forward. It might take one deep breath, maybe a cocktail or beer, possibly days but failing to move on will impede your next training cycle by lowering your confidence and sucking up your motivation.
Your pre-race ritual: While you can’t go back and change anything that happened during the race, you can change what happens before. Did you eat the right food fuel the night before? Were you sleeping enough? Was your taper adequate? Did your travel plans give you time to adjust to the altitude and time difference or recover from flying? Each of these factors can change your body’s ability to perform at its best.
The Weather: There’s only so much anyone can do about weather. And that is a whole lot of nothing. High winds, freezing temperatures, loads of humidity and heat waves can all have a major impact on your performance. Sometimes a bad race isn’t all your fault and remember, everyone else out there had to deal with it, too.
Your goal: Was your goal really reasonable? Aiming to shave 45 minutes off a marathon over one season is noble but probably not attainable. Make sure you set feasible goals that push you without bordering on miraculous.
Your training: How did your training go? Did it include enough speed work? How about a long enough base phase? Did you train for the terrain you would be racing on? Take a good hard look at your journal to examine what workouts were good and which ones weren’t. Most importantly, make sure you weren’t over-training or pushing through an injury.
Move on: At the end of the day, OK, it was a bad race. Was it the worst race ever in the whole world? Probably not. Even more important is to look at all the things you learned and focus on positive parts of the event. Make sure you’re emotionally ready then go sign up for another.