Earlier this week, in my review of last week’s Alexandria Turkey Trot, I promised I’d share some lessons from my own performance. My big take-away: Having a bad day, running-wise, doesn’t mean you have to have a bad race.
I ran the flat, easy course in 44:33, or just under 9-minute miles. Typically, that’s a true jogging pace for me, which would have been fine if I’d meant to jog. Unfortunately, I’d intended to race it, but just couldn’t find the next gear when I tried to upshift. Here’s what I *didn’t* do when I realized my body wasn’t cooperating:
1. I didn’t beat myself up about it. I did a quick survey of the things that might have caused my sluggishness (Bad night’s sleep? Yes. Stomach troubles from the night before? Yes. Stone in my shoe? Sun in my eye? You get the picture …). Then, I stopped thinking about reasons, and started just accepting the conditions on the ground. As is the case in life, the sooner I got over how the race was *supposed* to be and accepted how it actually was, the situation improved.
2. I didn’t give up on the race. Once it became clear this wouldn’t be a PR, I decided that I’d go for mental toughness rather than time. I decided I’d try to run evenly paced 9-minute miles, knowing that would feel challenging but do-able, and that I’d try to keep my head in a good place—no trash-talk, no self-pity, no throwing in the towel. In that respect, the race was a huge success.
3. I didn’t let any of the above ruin my race. Rather than spending 45 minutes beating myself up, I spent it interacting with spectators and other runners, eying cool-looking houses or and restaurants in Del Ray and appreciating how much fun it is to be able to take part in an event like that at all. As a result, I was more observant than usual, noticing the baby bulldog at the turnaround point (aww!) and the plate of bacon at an aid table (eeuww).
Have you managed to turn a rough race into a good day? Share your tales of mental toughness below.