How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race
The week before last I had a bad running race at the Phillies 5k. While yes, you can argue it was windy, my disappointing race wasn’t because of that. Honestly, it wasn’t my day and these things happen.
While it stinks, I race so frequently there is no point to let one bad race ruin my day. When you’re an experienced runner you’ll learn that every race is a learning experience: the good and bad. In fact, you’ll probably learn more from a frustrating race experience.
So How Can You Bounce Back from a Bad Race?
Like the movie, Frozen, let it go…
Every athlete has both good days and bad days.
Find the Positives:
Every running race has a silver lining. When I crossed the finish line at the Phillies 5k, the first thing I thought was: Wow I felt awful. Then I quickly remembered I’m injury-free. The entire race was miserable, my mental spot was not great, but I finished healthy.
After cooling down, I caught up with one of my closest friends and still hung out. I saw many locals and chatted for a while. They asked how the race went, and I said: “awful it wasn’t my day for running, but it’s just running”.
Running isn’t my job; it’s a hobby. If a hobby stresses you out or causes you misery, it’s time to find a new one. Sure, I won’t always “love running” but instead of dwelling on a bad race, look for the good.
It’s important to look at the silver line and positives of your running race:
Did you finish healthy and injury free? Could you smile afterward and have a good day?
Reflect so you can “Get Over” your Bad Running Race:
Immediately after the 5k, I chalked it up to being “a bad race”.
Now that I’ve sat back, reflected and recovered from a bad race, I know there are plenty of reasons the 5k was not a great race for me. You’ll never move on and get over your bad running race if you dwell on it.
My body was still tired from the weekend prior. I knew going into the race my body didn’t feel good. I haven’t eaten or slept well, and I’ve increased speed training and racing. Plus, I ran a half marathon the weekend prior. I’ve done it a dozen times, but I’ve always been more fit.
None are excuses but they all contribute to why my race didn’t go well. Reflecting back and having a few answers is better than, “it just didn’t.”
It gives you ways and reasons to improve. You can make adjustments to your training, nutrition, or sleep patterns.
With distance running, there is always another race. There are always more long runs. Marathon training is a long distance to cover and it’s important to also look back at training.
Most Importantly: Recover and Set New Goals:
After running a bad race, it’s important to take time to recover. Even though the race didn’t go well, don’t go crazy. Take time to recover and relax.
Then set your sights on running a PR, new time goal, or maybe a new event altogether. Maybe you need a change in training plans, training cycles or a new running coach.
Maybe a marathon burned you out…
Or maybe you want to run longer races…
Find something to get excited and refocused about!
Remember there are many race days to come. For me personally, I have run many races over the next two months. While I’m not looking for magical redemption, I’m looking forward to chipping away my time and getting back into better fitness.
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.
Questions for you:
How do you get over a bad race? Do you bounce back quickly?
What has been your least enjoyable race?