Mind, Race, Running

…so what went wrong? (Dealing with a Dissapointing Race)

The past two weeks have possibly been the best of my running life. I have been training significantly better than I ever had before: I ran many hard sessions, did just under a PB for 1500m in the middle of training and smashed my parkrun PB to get 20:13 without even expecting it. My running form has improved a lot and I have been very relaxed and composed. So, all I needed was a race to prove my efforts and it just so happens that London School’s was right around the corner. I had run the race last year and done ok but this year everything was so perfect. I was determined to run well. I wanted to get top 20 with all my heart and…I was almost convinced I would. It was going to breakthrough as a runner! MY race…

A picture from the awesome parkrun!

…or so I thought. Today’s run did not go to plan at all. To cut the story short, I didn’t place nearly as highly as I wanted and I certainly didn’t run very well. As soon as we began, the race nerves kicked and I was immediately disappointed as I knew I wasn’t doing as well as I had expected. The course was not to my advantage: it was too flat with too many turns. Everything I had planned, all my race tactics just disappeared and, quite frankly, I just wanted to finish. The most annoying thing – I wasn’t even that tired! Most annoyingly, I know I could have done so much better but…I just didn’t!

So what went wrong? How did I suddenly go from such good training to such a disappointing race? I think I definitely know the answer: it’s all in my head. For the past two weeks, I have been so focused- obsessed almost- with getting into that top 20 and doing well. I was so convinced it was going to go well (if I was able to keep my cool). But really, this completely backfired. The added pressure from myself and the fact that it was a school race and the fact that everyone (including me) thought I would do really well just built up inside of me and came crashing down on the race. Suddenly I didn’t want to run fast, I just sort of gave up (which is completely out of character). I push myself really well about 90% of the time in training but, when it’s most needed and expecting in races, I really struggle to do so. I lost heart almost as soon as I discovered I wasn’t in the front pack and it had a really negative effect on me.

This does happen quite frequently for me and, as I mentioned in my Dealing With Anxiety As A Runner post, it is 100% my biggest challenge. I know that my head is probably what is holding me back from reaching that high level. Simply, my mind is not very good at racing. I However, I am now more determined than ever to change that. Although I am ultra disappointed with the result of today, I know that the best thing I can do is learn from it. I know where I went wrong and I know that I need to overcome this issue before I start achieving my goals. This may sound contradictory but I think that one of the things I need to do is actually think less about running. I get so fixated on doing well that I tend to crack under my own, self-inflicted pressure. This won’t mean less training – I’m going to continue to work very hard- but it will simply mean perhaps finding some other things to focus on. A lot of the time my mind is always set on school, running, school, running, school, running…which I reckon is why I get so stressed out about them. Hopefully, I will be able to relax more and become less obsessed so that I can be more relaxed and composed in my races.

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A huge field is often one of my anxiety triggers!

Another thing I plan to do significantly is run my own race. I can’t help seeing those incredibly fast girls in races and just feeling disheartened that I aren’t as good as the them. But also, my run can be completely ruined if I lose to someone I “should be beating”. Another problem I have related to this is my tendency to obsess over results. I know a lot of my competitors PBs and race times and often try to predict how well I will do in a race based on this. Of course, this is very unsustainable. An example of this is that my time today would have got me 8th in last years race so it is no surprise I was convinced I would do well but clearly, this year’s standard was much higher! I can’t help going into a race and not thinking about the people around me and judge my performance based on that – which never ever helps me. Considering that there were about 200 in my race, 32nd is really that bad but I struggle to put this into perspective. To challenge myself, I am going to try and not look at any results apart from my own (which will be tricky as results are one of mine and my dad’s hobbies) but I think it will be very beneficial. In addition, I have been starting to practice some mindfulness and plan to start yoga which I’m sure will be good!

Hopefully, I will be able to put this all into action and gradually get rid of my running anxiety for good! I have a little while before my next race so I’m really to try my absolute hardest to stick to this plan and continue challenging myself to have a better mental well being. Also, I would really like to say thank you to all the support I have received! It has been really lovely and has helped me feel better! If anyone has any advice or opinions on this topic I would really appreciate it as the feedback on my anxiety blog post was so lovely!

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post and that it didn’t come off as too negative or anything and I apologise if it isn’t reading all to well as it has been very spontaneous. Now all I have to do is just pick myself up and carry on working hard because, as the popular phrase and Kayne West song goes, what ever doesn’t kill me can only make me stronger.  I hope you are all having a great week and thank you for reading!

Ellie xx

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5 thoughts on “…so what went wrong? (Dealing with a Dissapointing Race)”

  1. Bad races happen all the time, and often I find that they never actually went as badly as I thought they did; we are our harshest judgers and often our mind makes it out to be worse than it is. The important thing is never to quit! I feel like I haven’t improved in a while and may be gettubg worse, but as long as I keep at it I have to trust that I will improve… and so will you! Great post by the way 💗

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  2. Don’t worry about it, everyone is changing all the time and those incredibly fast girls now might not be quite as fast in the future. Everyone has bad races, it’s important to put them behind us and not let them define us as athletes. One bad race/ session does not make you a bad athlete. You’d be surprised how much things can change in the space of one season. Just focus on your training –
    Remember consistency is key and when races come by, simply relax, knowing that you’ve put all the work in and that you can only try your best. Hopefully that’ll help with nerves and anxiety too. Anyway, good luck for the rest of your XC season xx

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