Dealing with Disappointment: Running Edition

Dealing with Disappointment: Running Edition

I’m finally ready to talk about it.

The 15k race that I look forward to all year long- and spent months training for- didn’t go the way I wanted. No PR. No fancy top 10% finisher hat. Just a headache and a participation medal.

While it’s easy to get stuck in the disappointment (and I was for a few days), I’ve come to terms with it all. If you’re a runner who misses a set goal, maybe my thought process will help you!

Please note: These are my personal ramblings on my personal experience. I’m not a professional runner, psychologist, or anything related to the healthcare/fitness/wellness world.

Put It In Perspective

It’s just a race.

If you’re not a runner and are reading this post, you probably think I’m being a bit dramatic about it. And I completely agree. This is just one race out of sooo many out there.

I’m also a recreational runner. There are no stakes. I don’t rely on running for an income, for keeping sponsorships, etc. This was literally a goal I set for myself with zero consequences.

There will be other races, including this one next year.

Identify What Went Wrong & Potential Ideas for Improvement

Once the dust settled, I found it helpful to try to identify what went wrong.

For me, it was the heat. Race day was just too hot. Coming off winter training (I use winter lightly as a Floridian), the day of the race was much hotter than I’ve been running in. There really wasn’t a whole lot I could have done about it. (I know comparison can sometimes backfire, but I found it helpful to learn that the winner of the race had her slowest time this year too, likely due to the heat.)

In terms of things I can control, I think I should have done more training at my goal race pace. I really embraced short, fast intervals and slow long runs, but I neglected more challenging, longer speed/tempo work. I don’t enjoy this type of training nearly as much, but I think that’s something I’ll try to work on over the next year. Additionally, I want to incorporate more plyometrics (with my foam plyometric box!) in hopes of working on speed overall.

I think it’s also important to consider that it just wasn’t your day. This happens all the time. Some runs are good; some are bad. Why would race day be any different?

Try to Find the Wins

Given all the extra training I did this year, I did truly expect at least a new PR. But while I didn’t get a PR, it was still my second best 15k race time. Given the heat, this is really something to be proud of! I was only off my personal best by about two minutes. I think this is a testament to my fitness and the work that I put in.

While I didn’t set a new PR in the race, I did set a new 10k PR for myself. A win is a win and I’m going to take it! It means that I was on track for my goal for a majority of the race and I’m that much closer for next year.

In what is perhaps the biggest win of all: I trained for the race and completed the race without any injuries! Past years, I’ve reached race day with the absolute WORST shin pain and then promptly quit running for months after to heal. I didn’t need to do that this time around. In fact, I felt good enough to run within a day.

Are you a runner? Share how YOU get over a disappointing race in the comments below!

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