It is very difficult for me–and for most runners–to overcome a failed race. However, we must accept that there will be “good” races and “bad” races. I have never met a runner that hasn’t felt the disappointment of a race that didn’t live up to expectations. Both the good and the bad races are part of the journey.
At the start of every race, and often long before setting foot on the course, I have a goal and I have a race plan. If weather conditions are challenging or if I’m experiencing physical issues beyond my control, I just deal with it and continue forward. I am always determined to give my perfect effort for the race, without complaining.
Stay Positive on Race Day
It is so easy to start a race and say, “the weather is hot,” “my stomach hurts,” “I had the flu last week” or “I just started my period.” The list goes on and on, but I suggest not filling your mind with that crap, and instead just give the exact same effort you had planned to give, despite the uncontrollable changes. Keep your mind positive and give it your all.
The truth is that complaining about the circumstances that are beyond your control immediately sets you up for failure. Blaming external things gives you a nice excuse not give the race your full, perfect effort. Don’t sabotage yourself. Find the positives of the situation and be grateful.
How I Bounce Back
Here’s what I do after a “failed” race, or, what I would optimistically call, a race where my perfect effort did not result in my desired outcome.
- Set a timer. Let yourself be disappointed for 30 minutes, and not a second longer!
- After 30 minutes, let go of the disappointment and begin to think about the lessons you can learn from the race to improve next time. Allow the perceived “failure” an opportunity for learning and improvement. Bad races can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s as simple as eating the wrong food, having a nagging injury or not being adequately prepared. Sometimes, it’s lack of speed training and too high of expectations. Sometimes, you simple have an off day. Whatever the reason, accept it, learn from it and get over it.
- Write down what you can do to improve. You’re more likely to achieve goals when they are written down, so take the opportunity to assess what you could do better next time.
- Talk about the positives of the race and BELIEVE that tomorrow is a new day and that your next race will be a new opportunity to reach your goals. Never talk about the challenges and failures in a negative light.
- Don’t forget to be GRATEFUL for your health, fitness and wellness, which allow to compete in the race. Simply to be alive is a gift–remember this.
- Never forget that if you achieve every single goal that you set, you are setting the bar way too low. Falling short of goals just means that you’re learning, growing and evolving into a strong, faster version of you!
Running is Hard Work!
To be honest, the reason I love being a runner is the hard work and the unpredictable ups and downs of training. Nothing makes me feel more alive and fulfilled than trying to improve myself every single day! There are no magic lotions or potions. There are no shortcuts. Running is about hard work. It takes training, commitment and planning. It takes falling down and getting back up, again and again.
Achieving your goal during a race is rewarding, not for the recognition, but for the personal satisfaction. There is no feeling like it. To become your PERSONAL BEST, you must face challenges head-on and then overcome them. Challenges are lessons that help you to improve and teach you to appreciate your own efforts. Difficulties–and even failures–are all part of the process. It doesn’t matter how much “natural” talent you have. To do your best in a race, you must put in the effort, have a positive attitude, believe in yourself and embrace all failures as necessary lessons to be learned.
Believe in yourself. Train to succeed. Never give up. Be grateful. Have fun and, most importantly ALWAYS FIND THE POSITIVE!