Coming back from bad races

The day before a run (and sometimes two days before a big run), I set out my clothes, socks, hat, running capris, shirt, and of course under garments.

The night before I carb load, as do most runners. My go-to meal is a bowl of pasta, usually a well-made fettucine alfredo and lots of garlic bread. Who doesn’t love to carb load? I set my alarm to get up early. Race is at 8 am, so I need to be there for 7:30 which means I need to leave home by 7 at the latest. Alarm is set for 6:15 with a snooze till 6:30.

I wake up earlier than I needed to, thinking my phone alarm wouldn’t wake me up, but of course it works, and it will wake me up. I get up and start getting ready, I have a banana for breakfast. It’s a 10K run, don’t need too much to fuel, grab my water bottle for the run and leave.

I am toeing the starting line with friends and family and enjoying it as the running nerves kick in. I am going to get a personal best today, I am going to run below 59 minutes and I will finish strong.

In my head, I keep repeating “negative splits, negative splits.”

In those few minutes before the start, the headphones go in so I can tune out the crowd around me. To the beat of the music, bounding from side to side, shaking out my legs. Then there’s the countdown . . . 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. I’m off!

At each kilometre my watch buzzes with my time. First km: 5:32. I am feeling good but a little winded so I pull back.

Second km: buzz — 5:45. I am feeling good at this pace, keep it going.

At 5 km: buzz —  5:42. I think, “OK, I have run 5k in 28 minutes, at this pace I can possibly do a 10K within 59 minutes if anything, maybe even 58. This is amazing. Just keep going, just keep going.”

At 6.5 km I start to feel like I want to slow down and 50 metres later, I’m walking. I don’t want to run anymore. I want to go home and get into my pjs and order pizza and go to sleep. But I love running! Right? Yes, no, maybe.

I walk off the exhaustion and the aversion to running for two kilometres, then I start up and jog the rest of the way. I make it to the end, just done.

I’m not happy with my performance, not happy about the run. This should have been it. It would have made the year so much better. But I let my exhaustion and mind take over.

On the way home, I can’t help thinking maybe this isn’t for me . . . maybe I should stop running and start doing something else. Maybe I should take some time away from running.



This is one run. One run doesn’t define your year. This has happened before, and it will happen again.

So, what am I doing now to keep the energy up and to get my training done? In about a week, I’ll finish a large project I’ve been working on and will have a lot more time to devote to my training, but I need to figure out what works for me.

  • I will be doing Orange Theory twice a week. It’s a great way to strength train and make sure I am building muscles I have never had or thought I could build up
  • Following my training plan from my coach
  • Getting outside. I struggle with getting off the treadmill and going for a run outside. I find it convenient to be at home and watch a movie while I am running.
  • Start with Headspace each morning. For those who don’t know, headspace is a guided meditation app. It’s great for when you are anxious, sad, or even happy. It is a way to feel centered, which will be important as I train for my marathon.

With all these changes I plan to make, I hope that I will be out at races giving it my all and not having any mental blocks. But most of all, to not doubt myself because of one (or 20) bad races. There will be that one race eventually that will make it all worth it.


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