Nothing can break the spirit like a failure. And it hurts all the more if one has worked, sweat and blood, to gain from something. Runations and marathons are like milestones that most of us set to achieve back a wilted confidence or seek a new purpose in life. But after training for weeks, logging scores, and pounding hundreds of miles, if you do not find yourself in the top 3 or let’s say 5, it’s no big deal! Yes, it can pinch a lot psychologically and emotionally but there’s always the next time. And so, to make things easier, let’s find out how to get over a bad running experience.
Not meeting a race goal doesn’t make the race a failure. In fact, it can be taken as a stepping stone to a breakthrough performance. The current defeat will goad to work through a challenging phase that will help in developing mental strength and perseverance and prepare you better for the next tough run.
Easier said than done, reviving the broken spirit and taking failures into one’s stride isn’t an easy task. Aside from building mental strength to take on a bad running day, technical ways should also be adapted to cope with a bad race.
Keep reading for tips to overcome a bad marathon experience.
How to Get Over a Bad Running Experience: 6 Tips to Know
If failing to run the desired time in a race or not hitting the planned splits in a track workout pulls you down then just ask yourself:
Is it really the end of the world?
Does this setback mean I’ll never run a good race again?
The resounding answer is: NO, of course not!
To bounce back from a bad race needs time. Going through the drill twice as hard with flashes of wishful “could-have-been” and not to forget the long wait for the next race opportunity. All could get easily to your head and wreck you inside. So, in the view of helping you on how to get over a bad running experience, here are five steps to take:
Tip 1: Vent Out
The first step is to release the disappointment felt. It is natural to feel emotional or even devastated because losing a race may come as a personal failing. You have invested so much time and energy and when the expected return is not attained, it’s only human to grieve and release the emotions.
Ideally, the grieving stage should last for a few hours or a couple of days. But prolonged moaning is unhealthy. It will only lower the self-confidence leading to demotivation. Clear your mind to constructively evaluate the situation and the shortcomings and devise a plan to get over the bad psychology frame.
Tip 2: Dissect the Disaster
Once the sobbing and cursing have stopped, stir the positive feeling and begin to analyze the bad running. Firstly, isolate the factors that wasn’t under your control – this would include unpredictable health conditions, bad weather, or that devious pothole. And focus on things that could be rectified such uneven pacing, inadequate training, impractical goals. It is better to do the post-race analysis with an expert like a coach or a running veteran.
For example, avoid starting out too fast in the next race event. Practice running with a pace group at your next event or position yourself farther back in the pack. Figure out if you were well -hydrated or if you reset enough during your taper.
Tip 3: Positive Takeaways
Maybe write down your reflections, be firm but courteous. Sometimes our internal thoughts can be over critical but when those thoughts are penned down, we tend to become less negative and more objective.
Every race is a learning experience. Think of what you accomplished at this event. Did you finish the race? Was it your first marathon? Did you have the opportunity to travel? Chances are that it wasn't all bad and nobody can take away your positive experiences. Whether you received a medal or not, you are still a marathoner.
After the bad running episode settles in, start evaluating and plan how the next race can be done better. Think of what you accomplished at the end of the event. Did you finish the race? Was it your first marathon? Did you have the opportunity to travel? Chances are that it wasn't a completely bad marathon experience and nobody can take away the positive experiences. Whether you won a medal or not, you are still a marathoner!
Tip 4: Set New Race Goals
Every athlete has bad races — even the ones who do this for a living. Britain's Paula Radcliffe dropped out of the 2004 Olympic Marathon, but three months later, staged an impressive comeback by winning the New York City Marathon. Elites like Radcliffe are able to bounce back because they have to, says sports psychologist Neal Bowes, of McLean, Virginia. If they allowed themselves to get caught up in a single bad race, they'd be out of work. You may not get paid to run, but you can adopt this mind-set. "Your running career isn't about one race," Bowes says. "Use your disappointment to fuel your next success." When setting your next goal, though, make it manageable. If you struggled to put in training miles for your last marathon, you might want to target a shorter distance. Also, to increase your chances of reaching your ultimate goal, set smaller goals along the way. If prerace jitters threw you off, race a few 5Ks before your next big race so you learn to calm those butterflies. "Small victories help rebuild confidence after a disappointing experience," Cogan says.
Tip 5: Restructure Your Workout Plan
If plan A did not work then it’s time to work the plan B. In case you don’t have one, here’s what to do. Check our training routine. Gather help from experienced trainers and runners to formulate a new training chart. And by new we mean incorporate new tweaks to train better. Dare to make changes in your workouts. Include cross-training activities for runners, choose runner’s diet options you skipped last time, and avoid pushing yourself too hard.
A runner doesn’t gain much from over-training. Try to arrive at the race day with relaxed muscles, fresh, and happy.
Tip 6: Before Your Next Race
Learn to manage your expectations. Always go into a race knowing well that a part of running is taking the chance that something might not go right. In case you couldn’t meet the set goal another time, just remind yourself that your performance — good or bad — doesn't define you.
So, in addition to a relaxed body, you need a relaxed mind to run effortlessly. Be prepared mentally to accept the outcome, whatever be it and keep trying like the proverbial spider.
Running is part of a healthy lifestyle; it can make you feel stronger, happier, and saner. Those benefits outshine any post-race glow. Remember that for every frustrating experience, there is a fulfilling and memorable one waiting to happen. Don't allow this race to shake your focus or cause you to forget about your goals. Life is full of speed bumps, but overcoming them can develop you into a stronger, more experienced athlete. What you do during the hours you're not running can make (or break) your workout. Make sure you're getting enough rest.