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How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

The week before last I had a bad 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.

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

So What Can You Do After a Bad Race?

Like the movie, Frozen, let it go…

Find the Positives:

When I finished 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 positives of your race:

Did you finish healthy and injury free?  Could you smile afterward and have a good day?

Next, Reflect and Figure out Why:

Immediately after the 5k, I chalked it up to being “a bad race”.

Now that I’ve sat back and reflected, I know there are plenty of reasons the 5k was not a great race for me.

My body was still tired from the weekend prior. I haven’t eaten or slept well, and I’ve increased speed 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.

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 a new race or goal.

Maybe a marathon burned you out…

Or maybe you want to run longer races…

Find something to get excited and refocused about! 

For me personally, I have 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?

What has been your least enjoyable race?

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2 responses

  1. There are usually a number of reasons that contribute to a bad race, but it’s even more disappointing when you’ve been following a training plan diligently and hoping for a PR. That happened to me last fall. I was training hard for a 10k PR and messed it all up in the last week before the race. Then a bunch of things went wrong during the race, and I had to consciously re-frame my mind to focus on only the positive aspects of the race

  2. It’s really hard when you can’t figure out WHY a race went bad! My terrible marathon in December was like that – no real reason for my crash and burn. But then, I guess it did make me recheck my iron, and at least it lead me to correct that! So that’s a positive!

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