Name a runner who hasn’t had a bad race? It can seem like the end of the world when you go through it, but the good news is you are not alone.
Those before you have experienced the pain and disappointment, and those after you will too. The important thing is getting over the self-pity, learning from it and bouncing back stronger, both mentally and physically.
If it’s your first bad race or the next race doesn’t quite go as planned, follow these steps to put that performance behind you and move on.
1. Have a moment and be disappointed
It’s not great when things don’t go to plan so give yourself a moment to be annoyed and digest what happened. Give yourself a day or two to be disappointed, but not any longer. Life’s too short so time to get positive thoughts going again.
2. Discuss it with a clubmate or coach
After having a little bit of time to process what went wrong in the race, it can help to talk about it to a fellow runner or coach. Did lactic acid set in too early during the race? Did you hit the wall?
Talking about your experience will allow you get it off your chest. If you are not one for talking though, some runners prefer writing a race recap down on paper in a diary or even a blog.
It might be clear straight away what went wrong or maybe you still aren’t sure. Whatever is the case, now is the time to understand what happened; good and bad, before and during the race. Analyse the race and your training beforehand.
Try to spot what went to plan as well the things that need improvements. Ask yourself the right questions; did you taper correctly? What was your hydration strategy?
4. There are always positives
The race happened and you’re over it. Now see the positives about the experience. Even bad experiences are positive in disguise – if you are ready to learn from them.
Identify a few positives from the training or racing experience and focus on them, and even write them down.
5. Get your confidence back
If you dropped out of the race or didn’t get your PB, you might be doubting your running ability. Once you’ve recovered, plan a training run you enjoy. Do you get a buzz from a long run or 400s on the track? Go and enjoy that run or session.
6. Plan that next race
After you’ve had the time to reflect and regroup, it time to look forward to your next race to regain your focus on a new goal.
If your bad race was a marathon and if you still have some self-doubt, don’t jump straight back into that distance. Instead, go race a fast 5K and get some confidence back before stepping back up to the longer distance.