Race work of art

I’ve had a long time to think about racing. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it at the best of times, so much so that this year I haven’t been racing at all – I’ve been entering events and running them, but I haven’t been racing them. Which this year has suited me just fine because I have less recovery time and I can just run.

But racing, like training is it’s own art and it’s own challenge and I imagine I will get back to it next year.

I think that a race should be your victory lap, but disappointment is also ok, even useful. And here is some great advice about what do when you fall short.

As much as it would be nice if everyone got the race they deserved, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the variables conspire against you and you are sick or the conditions are awful or you just have an inexplicably off day. There are so many things that you can control and a million more that you can’t. All you can do is hope that all of your training will allow you to respond in the best way possible on the day.

The important things to remember are:

  • a bad race, just like a bad run doesn’t reflect on your training, your fitness or you in any way
  • allow yourself to feel disappointed, think about what you could do differently, but don’t dwell on it
  • there’s always another chance, you can always go back and have another crack at it
  • remember it’s just a moment in time and if you ran the same race tomorrow, it would probably be different
  • it’s only a wasted experience if you don’t learn from it.

Sometimes the best thing you can learn from a tough run, is just how tough you are. Time won’t tell you about your toughness, or your tenacity or your commitment or your ability to leave everything out on the course and finish with nothing left in the tank.

Instead, you can take a step back and realise how incredible it is to have come so far that you are now setting expectations of yourself, beyond finishing. That you are continually challenging yourself to push your limits. Whether you meet those expectations or not is kind of irrelevant, the fact that you are willing to reach for the impossible is more important than any achievement you could walk away with. Having enough courage to be willing to fail in the pursuit of something is really quite amazing if you think about it.

When I really think about it, when I do race I don’t run for a time, I run to find those inner reservoirs of strength that I didn’t know existed. I run to be amazed by that. And I nearly always am.


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Zoey Dowling

Written by: Zoey Dowling

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