Had a Bad Race? Here’s How to Bounce Back

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So you had a bad race?

Now what?

First, remember running is a lifelong process. You must take the good with the ugly. As much as we wish every single race would be perfect and ideal, that doesn’t always happen.

So what happens when you pour your heart and soul into a training cycle, and it doesn’t yield the race results you want?

First, Cut Yourself a Break

Ask yourself: Is a bad race really the end of the world? Does your job or life rely on a particular time goal in a race? Very few runners make money from running, so chances are your livelihood didn’t depend on the race.

That being said, it stinks not to meet your goals, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never run fast again. It just means it wasn’t your time at that particular race.

Reflect and Learn

No race is a failure if you can learn from it. It’s important to reflect and learn from the situation. For this to work effectively, you must be honest with yourself.

If you didn’t eat well, hit the appropriate paces during training or skipped runs, you can’t hide it. You are only hindering your ability to move past the race and PR.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Did you fuel properly? Was it a hydration issue?
  • Did you get enough sleep, rest, and recovery?
  • Did you take the first few miles out too hard?
  • Did something recent happen in your life putting more stress on you?
  • Was there another factor you missed?

Was your training cycle as perfect as you thought? For me personally, with a quick glance, it appeared my training was appropriate for the race.

As I reflect a few months later, I realize it was not. I did log the miles but I missed several intervals and my body never really felt “good” when it should.

Most Important: Find the Positive

If you learn something, then consider the race a positive experience. Learning doesn’t usually happen until a few days, weeks, or even months later. Once you’ve had time to reflect, take time the time to learn about things you can improve on.

After a disappointing first marathon, I realized I wasn’t fueling enough. For the next, I took more fuel and had a better race. All races, both good and bad, can teach you something.

Process and reflect on the race and learn what you should do to improve next time. Whatever it is, it probably won’t be an easy process but ultimately will help you achieve your goals.

Finally, don’t forget running is a hobby. If you aren’t enjoying running, then it’s time to take a break or step away from the sport to let your body and mind recharge.

Hollie Sick is an avid runner who’s completed more than 30 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

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