TotR: My Worst Race (and what it taught me)

Welcome to Tuesdays on the Run, where with Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs and I host a great group of writers each week.  Today’s topic is my worst race (and what it taught me).  I have had way more good races than bad races, but I still have had a few tough and miserable experiences.  I’m proud that I finished each one and I know I’ve learned a lot from the bad races.

I’ve already posted about my first race ever which was chock full of “learning experiences” so I thought that today I’d share what I learned from my Tink Half last year.  I’d had such a wonderful time at the 10k the day before that I didn’t expect any issues during the Half.  I made a ton of bad decisions and paid the price.  While I finished, it was a miserable slog.

WorstRaceSo, what did I learn?

  1. If you’re going to run a challenge (more than one race in a weekend) you actually have to train for it.  I’d tried to run back to back days in training, but got injured so I just trusted in being able to train for the Half distance.  After running out of steam during Tink, I decided to train differently for the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Knowing that I couldn’t run back to back days in training, I followed Jeff Galloway’s suggestion of doing a speed walk on Saturday that was half of the distance of the long run on Sunday.  And it made a huge difference!
  2. Stay off of your feet as much as possible the day before a race.  It was my first trip to Disneyland and I was so hyped up from the fun of the 10K that I spent most of the day walking around Disneyland, California Adventure and the Expo.  While I had a great time, I certainly didn’t set myself up for success the next day.
  3. Fuel properly and adequately, especially for a challenge race.  I was so committed to sticking to a low carb and low calorie diet that I really didn’t eat nearly enough the day of the 10K.  I just didn’t have the fuel I needed for a half marathon the next day.
  4. Don’t try anything new on race day.  Yes, I know, I know.  I already knew this logically, but I decided to try a new version of nuun that I found at the Expo.  And it did not sit well at all.  I didn’t read the label carefully and didn’t realize it had caffeine in it, which I had not trained with.
  5. Have a plan.  And a backup plan.  I knew I was tired on race morning and not feeling great and I couldn’t decide whether to use walk intervals or not.  I decided not to set my watch for the walk intervals but to just use them if I needed them.  Unfortunately, when I decided I needed them, I didn’t have the intervals going on my watch, so I had no signal to tell me to start running again.  So I just didn’t.  Now, if I think I might possibly need to use walk intervals, I go ahead and set my watch and just ignore the beeps if I feel good.
  6. Positive thinking is critical.  I got in my own head during the race and decided that I wasn’t doing well and wasn’t feeling well.  Since then, I heard Jeff Galloway speak about the importance of positive thinking during a race.  When I’m feeling off or getting worried during I race, I repeat to myself “I’m feeling strong” and “I am feeling great”.  And it really does help!

IMG_1648No one enjoys a rough race, but if you learn from your experience, it makes you a smarter and stronger runner in the long run.  What have you learned from a rough race?

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TotR: My Worst Race (and what it taught me) — 35 Comments

    • Exactly! I wish I had been able to stay a few extra days after Tink, but I was gone earlier in the week for a work conference so my family was not cool with me “abandoning” them any more than the full week I was gone as it was. Next time, I’ll absolutely plan for a few days in the parks after the race.

    • Disneyland is tough for me because I’ve only been there once and can’t seem to stay in the hotel room if the parks are open!

  1. I’m running the Gasparilla Challenge next month (4 races) and all the things you mentioned are the same things we keep talking about after our Saturday races. We have to be smart about food, water and rest to be ready for Sunday. Thank you for sharing!!
    Melanie recently posted…My Worst Race and What I LearnedMy Profile

    • I’m doing the Lime Challenge at Gasparilla next month! The Ultra Challenge looks amazing though, I hope to see your race recap!

  2. Oh my gosh! My worst race was a year ago. I ran a half last January…the first half up hill the second half (thinking I was going to sail to the finish because I’d be going downhill) was head winds! Yikes!
    Sami recently posted…Healthy Movie Night Popcorn!My Profile

    • Oh no, that would have been awful to expect an “easy” downhill and not to get it!

  3. It’s just difficult to do the Disney parks and race. I’ve tried it several times. But, I’m not going to sit in the hotel room either. Although I exist on coffee, I don’t do well with caffeine during a race. I have to be careful which GU I pick.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…The Bad Half (Tuesdays on the Run)My Profile

    • I’m trying out some GU with caffeine in it in my training right now. So far, so good!

  4. I’m good at resting at WDW, but I’m all over the place at Disneyland. But you learned and had much better training for Glass Slipper. At least if it’s a bad race experience, you’re already at the Happiest Place on Earth.
    Lesley recently posted…My Worst RaceMy Profile

    • I’m exactly the same! I will say slogging through a Disney race is nowhere near as tough as slogging through a race with no entertainment!

  5. I learned that lesson last year. We were in Chicago visiting and I walked and walked and walked. I just knew when I flew home that I was going to be all warmed up and ready for that 5K, I could see a PR coming! LOL! NO! slowest 5K in quite a while, my legs did not want to go! I learned the value of a little rest on that one! Nice post!
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Sick leave and unhealthy temptations!My Profile

    • It’s shocking how tired your legs can get from doing tourist walking before a race. I do love walking in Chicago though; what a beautiful city!

    • If I’m turning it into a racecation, I try to get there as close to the race as I can and then plan the park days for the days after the race. The extra benefit is that the parks are usually much less crowded a few days after the race!

    • I’m ok when I’m at WDW, but Disneyland is tough to sit out since I have only been there once (so far!).

    • Thanks! I’ve only done the 10k/half challenges. I can’t imagine how those Dopey runners do it! And some even went to California to do the Star Wars 5k/10k/Half the next weekend!

    • I’ll admit that doing “just” the 10k at WDW weekend this month was an absolute blast! I have a 15k/8k challenge at Gasparilla next month and I’m hoping that it goes well. The biggest trouble with the challenges for me is getting up so horribly early more than one day in a row!

    • Thanks! And yes, a good race right after a tough one is even sweeter.