This is will be posted on xtri.com soon: Bad Racin'
Joe Friel recently posted a statement on his twitter page: “The only difference between a good race and a bad race is that you learn something from a bad race.” I cannot say the tweet was written directly to me, but I do think our conversation from the day before was likely what reminded him of that statement. We had recently sat down so that I could vent about one of my own ‘bad races’ and he recited that statement to me.
I probably would have preferred to have learned nothing on the previous weekend, but his words were choice ones and it did make me think about all the lessons I have learned over the years. I am always impressed by athletes that perform consistently well because it always seems as if my best performances have been coupled by some rather dismal ones. I have to pay my dues before I can withdraw a solid result.
It is never easy to deal with a bad race, but I can confidently say that it is not the end of the world. No matter what you believe within that moment, trust that things can, and will, get better. I seriously doubt that every training day or work day goes well for everyone reading this and the same can be said for racing.
Ok, so a bad race happens. Then what? What can be learned from the day?
There are a lot of variables that go into a race, whether good or bad, and isolating the one instance that caused a poor performance can be difficult. Some common pitfalls include: poor pre-race or race day nutrition, improper pacing strategy, too much training leading into the race, too little training, too short of a taper, too much of a taper, too much travel, bad equipment choice(s), inclement weather, cramps, etc. In other words, you might never know all the variables.
The one bright side to having a poor race is that you might get to check one of those off the list! After the race passes, take the time to really sit down and think about what might have led you to underperforming. The best athletes are the ones that take the time to understand where their shortcomings were so that the same mistakes will be avoided in future races.
Many athletes have come to me to confide in their disappointment from a poor race and it certainly is unfortunate to see anyone fall short of their goals when their commitment and work ethic are in tact. I often tell these folks the same thing: No one can take away the fitness and experience that you have gained from all the days leading to this one. The difference from this race to your next is that your next race is going to be the day that you show the world what you are capable of.
Get back in the saddle!