You’ve trained your legs off for 6 months, feel like you’re on top form and are totally after a personal best. And then…..your race totally sucks and your performance is pants. How do you deal with this and keep enjoying your sport? Or even find the motivation to keep training for the next race.
Review your personal reasons and motivations for taking part in your sport. Think about intrinsic and extrinsic reasons such as feeling healthy, relieving stress or enjoying a challenge.
For every race and event you go to set some outcome AND process goals. Process goals are the things you’ll do during the race to help you reach you goal and can include your race day nutrition, technique focal points, pacing, race strategy and mental strategies.
Have an A Goal, B Goal and C Goal so that you can adjust your targets on the day according to the conditions. If it’s blowing a gale and hammering it down with rain you might not make you’re a Goal.
Check your goals and what you’re measuring your performance against. Have you had some mission creep? And are you now comparing your performance to someone else or some other standard than the one you set out with?
Before you jump to conclusions look at your data and also ask other competitors how they found the race. If everyone had a slow day then it could be the conditions and you may well have had a slow time but an amazing performance.
Look at your overall effort. I’ve had races where the data tells me I had a smashing performance and totally rinsed myself…..even if my finish time was several minutes of a PW.
Look at your data with a curious mind and see what you can learn. Did you go out too hard and blow up, did you go too slowly and have too much left in the tank, was your pacing erratic, can you identify a point where it went wrong and why?
Look at your training diary and data leading up to the race are there any clues there as to why your performance was disappointing
Review your nutrition plan with a calculator and the numbers. What can you learn? Did you take in enough carbohydrate?
What went well in your race?
What can you learn from your race? What will you do differently to have a better race next time?
What went well in training? And is there anything you can learn or do differently?
Zoom out from your race and think about the journey it took to get there. The outcome of your race is just one part of the story. See if you can reframe your disappointment by thinking about all the training, achievements, commitment and learning it took to get to that point. Re-visit the things you’ve been proud of leading up to your race.
To help avoid this type of disappointment I also encourage athletes to have a series of events and stepping stones throughout the year. This means that athletes don’t have all their eggs in one basket! Or all their pressure and training culminating in one huge event that could be ruined by bad luck such as a puncture or catching a cold the day before the race.