Getting Back to Training After Running a Bad Race

Fact: You will have bad races in your career as a runner.

Any runner that is driven to push his or her limits will have some races that go well and some that end rather poorly.

How you react to a poor race day performance goes a long way toward ensuring that you have more good days than bad ones in your future, I can promise you that!

Win or Learn

As runners, we should strive to learn something new every time we run a race.

What can we learn from a race? So much!

Race strategy
Fueling/hydration strategy
How to listen to your body

The potential lessons you can learn during a race are almost endless.

When a race goes well, you might be able to learn a lesson or two. But when a race goes poorly, you can learn so much more!

So while a bad race can certainly be a tough pill to swallow, if you learn something from that experience it becomes a valuable building block to help you get to where you ultimately want to be as a runner.

Win or learn.

Every race can help you take the next step in your growth and evolution as a runner.

3 Tips to Help You Move Past a Bad Race

We all have bad races from time to time.

That probably doesn’t make you feel any better, but hopefully it helps you to know that you are not alone.

If you’re coming off of a bad race, here are three suggestions to help you move past it.
Give Yourself a Little Time

It’s ok to be disappointed or upset after a bad race.

So if the pain of a bad race is still fresh, just give yourself a chance to take a breath before you start training for your next race.

Take a few weeks off from running to allow your body enough time to fully recover from the training cycle and the race itself before you run again.

The time away can also do wonders for your mental health by giving you a chance to process the disappointment, learn from the experience, and look forward to the next challenge.

During your time away from running, take advantage of the opportunity to try some cross training or other type of physical activity (yoga, strength training, pilates, etc.).

Not only will that help you to maintain your fitness when you’re not running, but it can also shore up any weak areas that may have developed as a result of being too focused on running as your sole method of being active leading up to your race.

Accept That Some Things are Beyond Your Control

As runners, we like to think that we are in control of our performance.

We are to a point, but there are a lot of things that can impact our race day performance that are completely outside our control.

You can’t control the weather.
You can’t control other runners.
You can’t control the condition of the course.

These are just a few examples of the things that are out of your control on race day.

One of the most frustrating things about our sport is that you can do everything right leading up to the race itself, and some factor that you have zero control over can completely screw up your race plan and result in a poor performance.

Sorry to say, but that’s distance running.

Accept it and move on, because what other choice do you have?

Sign Up for Another Race

In my experience, the best way to get over a bad race is to run another race.

It doesn’t matter if that’s a race of the same distance or not, just running a new race and having a better day helps take the sting out of a bad performance.

And even if the next race is several weeks or months away, just having a new race to train for can be enough to help you get out of the funk that a bad race can cause.

 Do What Works Best for You

At the end of the day, there is no one size fits all way to move on from a bad race.

For some, running another race as soon as possible is the best bet.

For others, not running at all for a couple of months is what is required.

But whatever works best for you, just remember that you’re not the first runner that has had a bad race and you won’t be the last one either.

And in all things, win or learn.

Even the worst race day experiences can provide you with a valuable lesson to be used in the future.

I promise.

Denny Krahe is a runner, coach, and the podcast host of Diz Runs Radio. Subscribe to Diz Runs Radio on your favorite podcast app to recieve new episodes automatically, and check out the 400+ episodes in the archives at

May 15, 2017

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