Psychological Tips to Get Over a Bad Race

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Runner’s World

By Liam Boylan-Pett

Disappointment after a bad race shouldn’t linger in adults, right? After all, we have real things to worry about. But according to sports psychologist Michael Sachs, it’s natural to be upset by a subpar performance. Running is important to us; we feel like we have control over the outcome, so when races don’t go well, it’s a let-down. Plus, the results are so concrete.

Even though adults usually have an easier time than teens in understanding that a race is not a big deal in the larger scheme of things, they sometimes need extra help in bouncing back. Sachs offers these strategies:

  • Toe the line again, especially if you feel you had a one-time bad day. Redeem yourself with another effort, pronto.
  • Or, take a break and get back to training. Schedule a workout that you’ve nailed before. If it goes well, try others until you feel ready to race again.
  • Visualize: Lie back and analyze the bad race. After thinking about it for a bit, Sachs says, “Press the reset button.” Then visualize a good race. Finally, think ahead to your next race and how you plan to do there.
  • Sachs says a symbolic cleansing can help adults as well as teens: Flush, burn or bury a bad result.


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