NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training!
Q: What’s the best way to get over a bad race?
A: There will always be ups and downs with running. The challenge is to try to make sure that the highs are never too high and the lows never too low. If you are disappointed in your race performance, do three things: feel, reflect and move on. It’s okay to feel disappointed—it shows that you care about your running. Reflect on what may have contributed to your performance. Was it something you could control (sleep, missed workouts) or did your legs just feel flat? Either way, move on! Learn from it and remember who you are as an athlete is not defined by one race.
Coach’s Tip: When training for your next race, shift your focus to get faster.
The high school athletes I coach often just want to run a PR (personal record). They don’t care where they place in the race as long as they get the time they want. While this mentality is not bad, I will suggest that they shift their way of thinking and focus not only on time, but also on placing as high as they can and beating as many people in the race as possible. When you focus on slowly passing the runners in front of you, you likely will end up running faster than you expected, because you spent less time stressing about the race and more energy being present and competitive.
Have a question for Coach Kigar? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #AsktheCoach.