No matter how good or bad your races were this season, there are several honest and positive ways to look back and prepare yourself for a better year ahead. These reference points can help you analyze your season.
What if I didn't set a PR?
Didn't make that 3:59 marathon? Is your 10K time feeling a little ?at? Well, so what? There's always next year, and that PR is still going to be right there waiting for you.
Sometimes the best way to reach a difficult goal is to aim even a little higher next time, which can get you working that much harder. Maybe even enough to help you blow that ?rst goal out of the water altogether. In the end, you only ever accomplish what you think you can, and not much more.
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What if I DNF'd?
If you weren't able to ?nish a race, don't be disheartened. There's probably just a gap between what your head wants and what your legs can give right now.
Perhaps you tried a new distance or an out-of-bounds time goal. Either way, it's time you had a heart-to-heart with yourself. Acknowledge your abilities and set more realistic goals. And while you're at it, be grateful that you didn't injure yourself.
What if I got injured?
Getting sidelined with an injury stinks. Sometimes you have a stroke of bad luck, like a nasty fall or a rock that you hit on the trails. But more often than not, injury is a clue that you're overdoing it. Hard work is healthy, but you have to listen to your body. Overuse injuries don't happen suddenly. They are the last resort of bones, muscles or ligaments that have been giving unanswered smoke signals for way too long.
What if I never got to the starting line?
Maybe you started training for a half marathon, but never quite made it the distance. That's okay. Did you have fun trying? Did you enjoy the ?tness and con?dence that running gave you?
So many runners get bogged down with the ultimate end-game of race day that they forget all about the journey of getting there. The race is only one day, but the training is weeks of learning, growing and—if you let it be—fun. Just getting out there is enough to make you happy.
What if I'm completely satis?ed?
You may not have worked hard enough. If you had any goals, failing to challenge yourself might have left you stagnant. Maybe you've set the bar so low because you're afraid of disappointing yourself. However, disappointment facilitates the opportunity for learning. Don't hold back. Become a better runner by challenging what you think you know about yourself.
Positively evaluating your downfalls along with your strengths is the best way to help you make improvements for next year's race season. Now get out there and make yourself proud.Sign up for your next race.
Trisha Reeves is a half marathoner with more than 10 years of running experience.