A blog by runners. For runners.

How to move on from a bad race

Have a crappy race day? Here are some tips on how to recover - physically and mentally.My training was solid.

I hit my tempo run and Yasso 800 paces without a hitch. Every single long run went well, for the first time in my running “career”. I earned an unexpected half marathon PR during my peak week of training. I felt ready for the 2014 New York City Marathon.

I was ready.

But despite a great round of training, my race went terribly. I lined up at the start already exhausted and dehydrated, and then the cold wind sapped all of my energy well before the finish line. I missed my goal by a whopping 35 minutes.

As you can imagine, I’m not happy. For four months I woke up before 5 a.m. every single day and pushed my body to its limits for one reason – to run the New York City Marathon well. Now that I’ve missed my goal, I feel like I did all of that hard work for nothing. What was the point?

Still, I know this negative thinking isn’t doing me any favors, so I’m trying to move on from the race by:

  • Sulking a bit. Bad races sting. It’s only natural to be upset, so I’m giving into my feelings. Most of my runner friends have been there, and I’m leaning on them for support. I know a negative marathon experience isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but it feels like a big letdown right now, so I’m pouting a bit.
  • Focusing on the positives. After the initial shock and disappointment wore off, I’ve been able to take away some positives from the experience. I made it through a 16-week marathon training plan! I actually enjoyed training! I came out without an injury! I ran a marathon! When I look back over all I have accomplished over the past four months, it’s hard to let the last nine miles of a race define how I feel about myself as a runner.
  • Looking at the big picture. In 10 years, I’m not going to remember the time on the clock when I crossed the finish line. I’ll remember the race didn’t go well, but I’ll probably look back at it through rose-colored lenses. I’ll recall the positives from the experience – the view of the city from the Verrazano Bridge and running through iconic Central Park surrounded by thousands of spectators – rather than the negatives. I’ll be able to say for my whole life that I completed the New York City Marathon.
  • Learning from my mistakes. I trained all summer in the heat and humidity so the 40+ mph winds and 40 degree Fahrenheit temperatures on race day threw me for a loop. I couldn’t control the weather, but I made several other errors in the days before the event. I slept terribly the week before the marathon, I walked over eight miles trick-or-treating with my son two days before the race, and I didn’t eat or drink enough the day before the marathon due to travel hiccups. These are all mistakes that I’ve vowed not to repeat next time …
  • Looking ahead. … and there will be a next time. Nothing motivates me more like missing my goal. After I recover – both physically and mentally – I’m going to dive right into training again. I cannot wait. ED. NOTE: Thirteen days after the NYC marathon, Jen felt ready to try again and ran another marathon – this time in her hometown. She did phenomenal, which goes to show sometimes you just have to break running “rules” and trust your gut. You can read her full race recap on her blog.

How have you gotten over a poor race performance?

Written by Jen Matz.