Every race is a little different. Sometimes it goes the way we hoped and planned, and other times we’re left feeling less than thrilled with the outcome. Regardless of whether you set a personal best or finish feeling disappointed and frustrated, it’s important to evaluate the performance as a whole. There are always race takeaways that you can learn from and apply moving forward.
The key is developing an evaluation template that allows you to review the entire experience from start to finish—not just the race itself, but the entire day and the days leading up to it.
I’ve noticed when a performance goes well, we often limit our review to simply what our watch reads and fail to look at all the other positive aspects that went into having a good day. Think about the entire experience and find patterns or methods that will help you duplicate those good days in the future: What you ate, how you slept, your pre-race routine, your hydration and how you managed the weather are all important considerations.
When a race doesn’t go so well, it can be difficult to find any positive aspects. We get so focused on the clock, hitting a qualifying time or measuring ourselves against the competition that we can lose sight of the positive aspects of a poor performance. Take a step back, let the initial disappointment fade and then evaluate your performance with an open mind. This exercise may help expose what went wrong. Although they’re disappointing, we learn the most from poor performances and find a greater opportunity for growth.
The goal is always to learn from your experience. When you take the time to properly evaluate your event you can see how your performance exposes or confirms your preparation. A race is not just about the pre-race routine, how you slept the night before, the morning meal or the race day hydration plan. Ultimately, all the training leading up to it is the biggest factor in determining your performance. By taking the time to evaluate your race, you will be able to reflect back on your training preparation and determine what went right, what went wrong and what adjustments you need to make for your next attempt.