Beating The Post-Marathon Blues

Dwelling On A Mediocre Race

Oftentimes, the most difficult type of marathon race to bounce back from are the unremarkable or mediocre finishes. You can’t be too upset because you didn’t run that bad, but you also didn’t run as well as you expected to, so you can’t be happy either. The perplexity is only made worse if the reason for the average race wasn’t within your control — bathroom break, bad weather, crowds or blisters.

Dwelling on a mediocre race is not only frustrating, it can be counter-productive and distracting. Like the urgent feelings one might feel after a bad race, you want to hit the roads again as soon as possible to enact revenge and prove your fitness. Plus, you’re aware that you’re in good shape, so you’re tempted to return to hard training even faster. However, just like after a good race, you still need to take the time to recover if you want to make continued gains year after year.

What you can do after a mediocre race:

The most important thing you can do after a frustrating race is conduct a postmortem.  Start by making a list of all the possible factors that might have contributed to your disappointing race. For the time being, it doesn’t matter if these factors were within your control or not–if you think something may have affected your performance, write it down.

Next, write as many possible solutions or tactics you can implement in your training to prevent these possible occurrences from happening again. For example, if it was hot on race day, you can try training with more layers. If you had gastrointestinal problems you might want to experiment with a different nutrition strategy.

When you’re finished, you’ll have an extensive list of training tips you can implement in training and racing. You may notice that there are only a few factors you couldn’t find a way to improve. These are the factors you can’t control (rolled an ankle, or got stuck behind a large crowd) and are often just a case of bad luck.

The important thing is to turn your focus toward actionable adjustments you can make for next time. Keep this list with you and make sure you look it over before starting your next training cycle. You’ll eliminate the same mistakes and increase your chances of having a great race.

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