When your race doesn't go to plan.. how to get over it and move on!

What I wanted to talk about this week is what happens when your race doesn’t go to plan. You might not get the time you hoped for, your goal wasn’t reached, maybe you weren’t able to finish.. there’s a lot of reasons why it might not have gone your way. It would only be natural to be a bit down in the dumps over what happened. Waking up on Monday morning to pages and pages on social media of everyone else seemingly achieving their dreams can easily result in your feeling pretty low. 

I obviously don’t want this to be a doom and gloom topic, but with running being such an incredibly tough sport, there are going to be low moments, as well as lots of highs too. So I just wanted to write some thoughts on picking yourself up after a tough race, what to do now and how to move on from it. 

- Firstly, don’t make any rash decisions. I’ve seen plenty of runners finish a race, panic and enter another marathon two or three weeks after in the hope that they can get their time then. That could be an option, but give yourself a few days, ideally a week, to fully take in everything that’s happened before rushing into anything. Recover fully, then make a plan! 

- Don’t think of your race as a failure, instead think of it as a great learning experience where you can take forward a wealth of knowledge into your next event. Make some initial notes. Some key questions to ask yourself would be: Did you go off too quickly? How was your race day fueling? Were there things you couldn’t control, like weather or crowds? Did you get cramps? Was the route harder than you expected? 

- Social media can be a hard place to hang out at the best of times, especially if things haven’t gone well. On one hand it can be very supportive when times are tough, but be aware that even the strongest people will find it hard to be surrounded by lots of others achieving their goals. It can be a good idea to take a few days away from social media, just while you fully digest your race.. then slowly come back to it in your own time when you feel ready. 

- I’d recommend, after a few days, looking back and going over everything that went well and everything you think could have gone better. Focus on the positives and things you would like to change for next time. Do some research, seek out advice, ask for help and make a list of things to work on. Look at your training and see what things you might like to change for the future. 

- You can and you will come back better! Personally I’d say I’ve only ever run one ‘perfect’ race, where I couldn’t fault anything.. but many many more where I learnt through mistakes, learnt from racing, learnt from giving it a go.. there are always positives in any outcome. 

- Process over outcome. You may have heard this phrase before.. it’s fundamental to my principles as a runner. The times I run are just a happy coincidence from running being a healthy part of my overall life.  

Finally, remember running can be a very punishing sport at times. We all have bad days and after working for months it really sucks, big time. However I’m sure brighter days will be ahead for those who want to come back a stronger runner.  

Have an amazing weeks training everyone, congratulations again on everyone who ran a marathon this past weekend, got your long training run in, aced a strength workout, volunteered or just read more about bettering yourself.  

Ben ParkesComment