How to bounce back after a race that doesn’t go your way

Nothing is worse than a race not going as you hoped. We train SO hard. Runners invest so much mental, physical and emotional energy in training for this ‘A race.’, and it can be devastating when it does not go as we hoped on race day.

Every Runner has been there. We all have bad races.

Here is some insight on how to crush your comeback:

1- REST

After a huge training cycle, regardless of the outcome of the race, it is important to take time off & allow your body to rest. Rest is critical for recovery not only from the race itself but from the weeks & months of hard effort training.

Elite marathoners  take a FULL MONTH OFF after a marathon regardless of race result. It is important to take these breaks to heal both mentally & physically. Absence makes the heart grow founder is true in distance running.

Putting nose to grindstone too soon after a race often leads to burn out and decreased future performances. Regardless of how you feel mentally, physically or emotionally the week or 2 after the race, it is important to rest!!

 

2- MENTAL ACCEPTANCE 

The results are the results. There is nothing we can do to change it or make is sting less. Here is the thing: EVERY runner has bad races or bad runs. We can’t undo them.

Often runners who did not reach their goal express an interest in a ‘redo race’ because the result is ‘not the time they trained for’. It is important to view the risk and rewards of a ‘redo’ race.

The marathon distance takes weeks to recover from. To do a ‘redo’ race, would not usually be advantageous. The process would be: 1 month for recovery from the first marathon then 4-6 weeks to ‘train’ IE build back fitness from the month of recovery/maintain fitness and TAPER AGAIN for the ‘redo race’

The redo race process takes 2-3 months and then requires an additional 1-2 months of recovery. Instead of the typically 1 month recovery from a marathon training cycle, we are now looking at 3-5 months of time in the same fitness level limbo. While all your training buddies started their speed work 2 months ago and are crushing workouts and hitting a new fitness level 3-4 months post marathon, you are stuck recovering from your second marathon.

This type of ‘redo racing’ often leads to athletes to get stuck on a ‘racing hamster wheel’.

The TAKEAWAY:

You cannot continue to capitalize on previous training cycles and continue to see improvement. period. 

Where are you at mentally? Are you feeling the need to ‘rush’ back into things? Are you only focused on the results instead of the process?

3- BUILDING YOUR CONFIDENCE

You can’t move forward if you are stuck in the past. You have to build your confidence as a runner back up! The first ‘bad race’ can really shake a runner to their core. You question everything. If it’s the first race you didn’t PR in.. You start to wonder, “is this it?”.. I can assure you, it is not the end of your fitness gains. That is when things actually really start improving. You have to decide you want it more than you are afraid of it.

As you get faster, it becomes harder and takes longer to improve. Maybe you improved dramatically in the beginning, but the results are slowing. That is expected. That is normal! Don’t let negative thoughts in.

CHECK YOUR MENTAL GAME! Where are you at? Are you negative on your runs? We can’t move forward if we are stuck in negativity.

Try this exercise: Every day write down 20 things you are grateful for. YES- you actually have to WRITE it down! You are never allowed to repeat the same thing. Every day, you must search for that gratitude. You will soon find yourself daily looking for the gratitude and positivity instead of focusing on the negatives. This really works- try it!

4- BUILD YOUR GAME PLAN

What is next? During the recovery time come up with a gam plan to crush your next training cycle. Make sure you are allowing enough time off from the distance. The best amount of time between A marathons is usually between 6-12 months. Allowing enough time to build up and get in a solid training cycle is important!

Here is an example of a comeback game plan!

Month 1- Rest for 2 FULL WEEKS. Run only easy, short & when you feel the last 2 weeks

Month 2- Run only easy miles at 50%-65% of your peak mileage. Hit up the gym to re-add in strength training & yoga. Focus on the little things that make you stronger. Drills, nutrition, lifting. What were the things you neglected before? Build those habits up during this time frame. The habits will continue as you re-build your milage

Month 3- Start to incorporate 1 day of fartlek or steady state running. Continue with the habits you build in month 2

Month 4- Start to increase your mileage and long run back. Building your base for the upcoming training cycle. Continue with the habits built back in month 2

Month 5- BEGIN YOU NEXT TRAINING CYCLE 4-5 months long

This plan works great for 9-10 months between marathons. It allows an athlete to refocus on the little things and establish habits that will take their training up a notch for the next cycle.

5- COMMIT TO IT

The little things like rest, nutrition, drills, lifting, sticking to your ‘plan’, stretching etc go a long way. Adding up the commitment to your training in all aspects over time yield to the best results.

RESULTS TAKE TIME! Try to enjoy the journey. Falling in love with the little things along the way. If you are looking for a quick fix or the ways to get faster NOW, we might suggest another sport 😉 Distance running takes time!

 

What sort of comeback stories do you have? We would love to hear from you! For more questions you can e-mail irun4prs@gmail.com

 

Published by

run4prs

I am 23 years old. Wife & dog-mom. I started running when I was 19, and it has slowly taken over my life. I spend 40 hours a week working as an office assistant, so running is a good outlet. I have ran 10 marathons/ultras with a 3:19 PR.

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