Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Evaluating A Poor Racing Performance

Over the years I have found the quote, "Those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them,"  to be so true.  It is especially applicable to this running life. I begin by asking the question, who hasn't had a bad race? Of course we all have. So what do you do after you have raced poorly? Move on and hope for a better finish the next time you toe the line? I have known too many people who do exactly that. Oh,they might train a little harder before the next race but they won't do much more than that. As an old running vet used to say,"you have to use what's between your ears as well as your legs when you race." What follows are some suggestions on what to ask yourself after not racing well.
Were you physically ready to race? How was your preparation? Did you follow a training plan all the way through to the racing season or are you one of those people who train and race pretty much all year? If you do,let me give what I believe is a biblical reference,"you reap what you sow." It a crapshoot performance wise when you combine training with a regular racing schedule.
How were your performance expectations? Were they realistic? Were they in line with how your training appeared to be going? How did they(expectations) match up with past performances?                            Did you really do as bad as you thought you did? Serious runners have a tendency to be hyper-critical of everything relating to how they finished a race(where they placed, the time,how they felt,etc.).
How had your training been going,any prior indication that you might not do as well as you hoped? Think time trials and pace work for starters.
Was this the first race of your season? If it was,the fact that it is your first race is reason enough not to be too hard on yourself, more races will be coming.
Did you rest enough prior to the race? This is perhaps one of the most forgotten reasons for a poor race. I have known so many guys who won't back off on their training before a race. Let me get this right,you've been training for months but think if you go easy the week of the race you will perform poorly? Admit it,your pre-race anxiety is preventing you from getting the rest you need.                                                                                                                           Speaking of anxiety,did you go out too fast at the start,or as Percy used to say, did you take off "like a frightened hare"? If you've been around for awhile,why are you still doing that?
Did you finish too fast or have too much left? If you did, take note of that and make the necessary adjustments.
At what point in the race do you believe you let down and the opportunity to race well was lost? For instance,some runners know that in the 2nd mile of a 5k they have to really think about keeping on pace or their overall time will not be what it should be. It's important to be aware and thinking throughout your race,no matter how bad you might feel.
Finally---what are you going to do and what are you going to change to get the kind of results you desire?It's important that a runner considers such things if he wants to achieve the success he trains so hard for. Recall Cerutty's words,"the ideal athlete is a thinking athlete." Although I am not a devotee,there is wisdom in the words of Sri Chinmoy when he said, "Think and Become." In our quest for success, we must think about what we have done, as well as what we are doing.


  1. Humble apologies for the weird structuring and layout of today's post with sentences starting in the wrong places etc. Originally I posted the article and then found that 1/3 of it was gone after I went back and viewed the page. I had to then recollect as best I could the part that was lost and write it over. Blogger has recently changed it's posting format and maybe there are some problems on their end.

  2. No problem, Dave. I was able to understand your message loud and clear. We all have been in the situation where we hesitate to back off and rest before a race. Sometimes it works but most of the time fatigue and poor performance is the result. Before big races where expectations are high, I cut my miles and workouts by at least 50%. Bloomsday in Spokane, Wa. is one of those events where most runners in the region want a good peak performance. Our big community race, 12K, is set for Sunday, May 6th.

    Thanks for your insight....

  3. Bloomsday? Wow! That race has been a great one for decades. Don Kardong was the founder of it I believe.
    Good Luck!

  4. Don and I run long together every Sunday.... Yes he is the founder and still going strong. He plans to direct the race for several more years. Our race is this next Sunday so your latest post about resting after races and rebuilding is pertinent. I'm weak in that area. Seems if I back off too much I run flat. Too much work before the race and the same problems occurs.... The right balance is always a challenge.

    Run well,