Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
If you’re riding a high from your most recent marathon or seeking another try at a failed PR attempt, you may want to curb your immediate race finish enthusiasm before signing up for your next one.
It’s never a good idea to sign up too quickly or base your decisions on impulse. You want to take at least a fews days (or weeks or months) before registering for your next race. After all, your mind and body need to take a cooldown lap, first.
After a miserable triathlon in early June last summer, I immediately wanted redemption and hastily signed up for another Olympic distance triathlon just four weeks later. That race became my first DNS where injury or illness was not a factor (unless you consider mental anguish to be an illness).
Learn from my mistakes and consider these four points before signing up too quickly for your next goal race:
1. Think Hard About Why You Missed Your Goal
Were you undertrained? Overtrained? Was the course too hilly or not what you expected? Are you injured? Did traveling play a role? Fueling? The list can go on and on. Before you think about signing up for another race (and possibly setting yourself up for another missed goal), think honestly about what went wrong, what you can do to change the outcome and the amount of time it will take to implement those changes.
2. Ask The Tough Questions
Is this the right goal for you? Why is it so important? Don’t let yourself off the hook with “I want a BQ” and instead think about why running the Boston Marathon means so much to you personally and how your life will change because of it. If you truly identify with your goal on a very specific level, you will be able to make it through the tough training days and the alterations to your life that are necessary when it comes to dreaming big.
As much as you want to immediately register for another race so you can try again, resist the urge and sit with your emotions for at least five days. You know how your body doesn’t really know it’s full until you stop eating for about 15 minutes? Give your mind and body the time it needs to tell you if it’s “full” before you return to a racing deadline.
You also want to give your body the time it needs to recover, especially if your goal involves 26.2 miles or more. High injury risk is associated with running multiple marathons or ultras in one year, so be sure your mind and body are up for the task before misguided goals sideline you for the foreseeable future.
4. Talk About It…With Non-Running Friends, Too
Here’s the trick: don’t limit your conversations to your running friends and community. Sometimes the best advice can come from a non-runner who doesn’t even know how long a marathon is. We usually know who is going to give us the feedback we most want to hear. Instead, talk through your issues with someone who doesn’t run and you may open yourself to an entirely new perspective.