Had a Bad Race? Here's What to Do Next
I think all runners could relate to having a not so great race. We've all had the race where we completely bonk out in, fall in, or have a blister that's split open and causes us to wince the entire way to the finish (ouch. Am I right?)
One way I encourage others to deal with their not-as-expected race is to think and reflect about what happened surrounding the race for a day or two and then move on. Some points to think about would be:
- Journal about what happened in the race
- How was this cycle's training different?
- more long runs?
- higher mileage or less mileage?
- how fast were your long or recovery runs?
- was your nutrition different?
- Did you race more times in the last couple of months or year than in previous years?
- How were you feeling weeks leading up to the race?
Some key things that may have been happening would be that:
- you over trained and hit a high peak earlier in your training cycle and weren't able to catch it until the down hill part.
- caught your down hill part and are feeling a little flat.
- haven't had enough time to rest your body in between long races or high mileage cycles
- raced too many long races in a short period
- forgot to pack your gels/other nutrition items or hydrate enough during the race
- went out too fast the first half
- the course was completely new to you
Any of these variables may have caused you to not have the race you were expected, but the good thing is that it's JUST ONE RACE. Don't let the race take hold of you. Instead, think about what happened, write it down, and learn for next time. Each race is an experience and sometimes not all experiences are awesome ones. Its hard to appreciate the bad ones, but they make us stronger, and more adaptable for the next one.
ONE BIG THING I also recommend, especially if you felt tired would be to take a break. Take a 2-3 week break, depending on when your next race is and get your mileage back up in a body-responsible way. Your body will have no problem knowing when its mileage is back up, it just needs to recoup for a bit before it can crank them out again. The body has a remarkable memory and definitely remembers the volume, so don't feel bad for having a slow or shorter day. I'd also recommend seeing a therapist to get the tightness out, getting a massage, or even setting an appointment for a chiropractor to get your back re-aligned. All in all, take care of body.
What are some experiences you have had??? l'll share one: it was my Sophomore year running in college at the Notre Dame Invitational and the weather was 30 degrees or so (FYI this is like an all Pre-Nationals kind of cross country meet). I lined up with my racing uniform on and nothing else to keep my warm. OMG was I shivering! The gun goes off and I fall over my teammate into the mud the first 100m of the race.I was mortified and ended up finishing in the the very back I remember questioning how good I was, how my training was going, if I should even continue running collegiately...I had never started or finished so poorly. To this day I remember how cold it was and how fast my heart was racing, but now I just laugh so much at what happened and our cries of panic as we were falling into the mud..It was a completely new experience for me: running against such a talented group, competing in that kind of weather, fallling, and learning how to move forward after low finish. I moved forward by reaffirming that not all races will be my best, that I just had to continue training smart, and that I will get there one day. For the remainder of that trip, instead of sulking in how slow I had ran, I soaked up the beautiful campus, being with my teammates, and laughing at what happened. Now I only remember how much fun I had at the race in Indiana.