Anyone who has ran a few races has likely experienced this: you’ve trained for months, you followed your plan and nailed your key workouts, and it still fell apart on race day.
It can leave you feeling like the training block was a waste, even when it was anything but. Here are some of the DOs and DON’Ts when a race goes sideways:
Write a race report. It will help you identify what went right, what went wrong, and give you some clarity. Whether you share it or not is up to you. But journaling is a great way to gain some perspective.
Use it as a learning experience. Yeah, yeah we’ve all heard this before. And you may be thinking “easier said than done”. However, we only grow from learning. And if the end result didn’t go your way from something that was in your control, identifying what that was will set you up for a better result next time. Never miss an opportunity to learn.
Recognize that you’re a fitter version of yourself simply by training for your goal. We’ve all had workouts go sideways due to various reasons such as poor sleep, stress, illness, etc. Race day is no different. Some days it’s just not the day but it doesn’t mean you weren’t or aren’t capable of it.
Allow yourself to be disappointed. And then move on. Dwelling on the result isn’t going to change it. The sooner you can move on and carry on the quicker you WILL achieve that result.
Dust yourself off and try again. I don’t mean the very next day (See Point 1 in DON’T).
Sign up for another race the very next day. Allow yourself some time to digest the result. Refresh mentally so you have a good perspective on the day. And then decide if another race is in your near future. Sometimes, rest is best or try your hand at a different distance.
Blame others. Take stock of what went well and what didn’t but ultimately take responsibility yourself. Execution on race day is up to you.
Be too hard on yourself. Sometimes we miss our goals. Beating yourself up over a missed goal isn’t going to accomplish anything good. But learning from what went wrong will.
Take yourself too seriously. No one cares about your result as much as you might think they do. And no one else is judging you on the time on the clock. If they are, that’s on them. Chasing your own goals makes this much easier to do.
Be afraid to fail. Goals shouldn’t come too easy, all the time, or you’re probably not setting the bar high enough.
It’s also important to recognize that sometimes races go sideways for things completely out of your control. One of the most common reason being the weather. There is no beating mother nature. If she wants to blow your house down or drop a heat bomb on you on race day, the only thing you can do is succumb to her by adjusting paces accordingly. Does it mean you’re not capable or weren’t capable? No! It just means it wasn’t the day for it.
If you’re reading this post and can relate, know you’re not alone. Running can be an unforgiving sport, at times, but the rewards are far greater. Don’t judge yourself by a race result. Learn from your mistakes and get back out there.
As a wise woman once told me, "Don't get too hung up on the highs and lows of sport". Heeding this advice keeps you humble and keeps things in perspective.