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What To Do When Race Day Doesn't Go Your Way

To be honest, this post still stings to write. After a multi-year comeback journey, I thought I was ready to knock my A-goal marathon time out of the park.

A beautiful train up, hitting nearly every workout well under goal paces. A high-energy, well recovered and mentally resilient 4-month training cycle, despite pushing big work and life goals...

Well, race day brought much different circumstances! Knowing so many of the runners, wellness warriors and everyday athletes I coach experience this same heartbreaking scenario, here are some things to consider.

marathon runner reflecting on a rough race


1. Own what works best for you to reflect on the race.


Many runners love to document what worked and didn't work. While there is value in reflecting on every mile and what may or may not have contributed to race day challenges, my word of caution here is to document what you need to learn from, and move on. No good will come from extended focus on feeling down, defeated or doubting yourself. You still trained extremely hard and have a lot of be proud of, so do yourself a favor and set a deadline on the amount of time you will mourn, cry, kick and scream.

Other athletes choose to move on right away, knowing tomorrow is a new day and not every race will go our way. There is no right or wrong way to reflect on your race. Whatever method works best for you, own it.


2. Don't forget the good.


Even the most rough of race days have small feats and victories. For example, I'm incredibly grateful that I was able to push my body. After all, just a few years ago when I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis and last year when I was diagnosed with a precancerous stomach I wondered if I'd ever turn the diseased state of my body around to be able to push pace again. And, I did hit a time within a minute of my PR...from 6 years ago, pre-diseases & kid #2! Is it really the end of the world to pick up right where I left off? (BIG thanks to my hubby for helping me to see that silver lining!)

If you recently had a rough race, what did you do well? Were there aspects of your training cycle that went especially well? Did your mindset stay strong, even when your body was breaking down? Did you get to run with a great group of friends or experience a fun after party? Don't forget the good, even if right now you can only find a little of it!


3. Embrace the art of failure.


It's never fun to not meet a goal. However, our track record for making it through tough times is 100%, so I'm confident we'll show up to future start lines stronger, more resilient and capable athletes. It's the moments where shit hits the fan, our body chooses to not agree with us on a random day, and if you're like me you end the race in the med tent... that superpower our ability to crush future goals.

So while my full comeback moment was not set for this marathon, I look forward to my next race, setting more ambitious goals and continuing the pursuit of embracing this perfectly imperfect journey we call life!

What does the road ahead look like for you? I'm confident that no matter how crappy you feel right now, that you are strong, your body is capable and you too can embrace the art of failure!


Louise Valentine is a 2021 Top 10 Performance Coach, wellness expert, best-selling author and competitive athlete. She owns Badass Breakthrough Academy, a virtual performance academy empowering busy runners, wellness warriors and everyday athletes to master the ability to perform at their best despite a busy, high-demand life! You can find Louise & her family (Team Valentine) living life out loud on Facebook and Instagram @BreakingThroughWellness.


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