I am pretty sure that most of us have had a disappointing race or athletic performance in our career. If you have not, consider yourself lucky!
A lot of us tend to throw our toys out of the crib and blame it on the conditions or someone else. I think there are several things we need to do when we have a disappointment in a race. First thing is give yourself at least 24-48 hours before you make any rash decisions
Your second step should be to take a step back and look at what happened!
- In your mind did you under perform for your current fitness level?
- Did you overestimate your current fitness level?
- Did you have a lot of life stress leading into the race?
- Was it your execution of the race?
I think it is very important to differentiate if it was a mental collapse while racing or if it was something physical. When athletes expect to do well and do poorly instead, it is very important to determine whether the reasons for the poor performance were within their control or not.
There are many many things that can lead to a poor performance and it is very important to take a look at it from an outside perspective. Then, come up with some solid conclusions as to why you under performed and make the necessary changes.
- These could be as simple as aligning you goals with your commitment level.
- Reduce the amount of commitments you have outside of work and training (this can be difficult with family and if it is, you need to look at your overall goal).
- Work on the mental aspect of your racing. Come up with a plan or system that you can turn to when things start to get tough.
It is human to make mistakes. Even the greatest athletes sometimes fall short of their goals. After a poor performance an athlete my initially feel disappointment or anguish. However, if an athlete does not view it as a personal disaster or an indication of incompetence, a poor performance or loss can teach an athlete a lot of valuable lessons that can be taken into future competitions.
Quite often you learn the most about yourself and your limits in the bad races rather than the good ones.
Most of all, I think we need to remember it is only a race, and there is another one right around the corner…