Raise your hand if you’ve had a bad race.
I know you can’t see all the hands raised, but know that you are NOT alone! While the awesome races are the ones we all talk about the most, everyone has bad races. In fact, my half marathon was terrible last weekend. One of the worst races I’ve done in a while. It really does happen to all of us!
That bad race experience inspired today’s post. Because although bad races are inevitable, they certainly aren’t easy to deal with. When you’ve spent months focused on a goal, you’re going to be disappointed when it doesn’t go well.
But, as my favorite quote from Meet the Robinsons reminds us:
From failure you learn. From success…not so much
It might sound cliche, but time after time I have learned how true that is. So let’s talk about how to move beyond the disappointment and bounce back from a bad running or triathlon race.
How To Bounce Back
1. Acknowledge Your Disappointment
I would never tell you to ignore your disappointment, because it’s completely valid. It happened and it’s painful. The longer the race, the bigger the disappointment in my opinion. I think that’s because you need more time between races to fix your mistakes when the races are longer.
But remember – a bad race does not make you a bad athlete. You are still a strong athlete and you will come back from this. So acknowledge that you’re frustrated with your results, take time to feel the frustration. But don’t get stuck here. Let’s move next to reviewing what happened.
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2. Review what went wrong
This is the most important step, in my opinion. You only learn from failure if you take the time to understand what went wrong, so you can do something about it. My approach is to review & process my race internally, then talk with my coach and training partners to review my assessment and add their objective feedback.
Questions to consider:
- Did you follow your training plan?
- What percentage of your workouts did you miss or adjust?
- Did your training routes reflect the course conditions for the most part? Hilly, flat, downhill?
- Was the weather different on race day than your training conditions?
- Did you travel for the race? How did that impact you on race day?
- What was your nutrition plan? Did you follow the plan?
Use the answers to these types of questions to help you look at all aspects of your race and help determine what to focus on for the future. Grab a copy of my race report template, including reflection questions to help in this process.
3. Adjust your approach
Now that you have done an objective review of your performance, it’s time to do something with that information. What will you change as your training moves forward to improve your performance and avoid another bad race? If you missed more than 10% of your training, will you commit to completing your workouts as written? If you trained on flat courses and raced on hills – can you add hill training to your schedule?
If the issue was related to nutrition, this is a great time to consider different fueling options (either before or during your race) to improve your performance. If travel was a problem, you may need to plan to arrive at your race destination earlier to adjust or choose more local races.
One note of caution here – don’t change everything all at once or you won’t know what actually worked for you! Choose the top 2-3 areas and adjust for those areas first. Small changes are much easier to implement and stick with, so this is a great way to make lasting changes.
4. Sign up for another race
Now it’s time to sign up for a new race! If you have already planned your race schedule, simply review your plan to determine if changes are necessary. Kirk and I spent time this past week reviewing our race options and finally created the full 2016 race schedule. We are racing every month this year, but with two key races as the primary focus (or A races). This prioritization is important, because you can’t race your best every month.
Need help planning your race schedule? Get access to the FREE video training series to plan your best race season.
Now you’re ready to get back to training & put what you learned into practice. Let’s make your next race a GREAT race!!