How to Overcome a Bad Race Experience

The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon was recently met with heavy criticisms as some racers felt their experiences were ruined due to poor event planning and execution. Many felt the errors made this year were inexcusable, causing runners to flock social media sites with complaints, accusations, and venting.

Complaints included:

  • Not receiving a medal
  • Race finish times not recorded
  • Crowding at the start and finish lines
  • Poorly managed aid stations
  • Merging the marathoners with the half marathoners

If you're a runner who trained hard but had a disappointing race experience, how do you overcome your frustrations? These four steps can help you deal with your experience constructively.

1. Release

Whether you failed to meet your goal, experienced an injury, or didn't receive a medal, you are probably crossing the finish line holding on to some emotions. This is normal and understandable. Venting can be an important part of overcoming your disappointment.

However, choosing who you vent to is crucial. You want someone who can understand or relate to your experience and lend you a sympathetic ear. Family and friends are your best supporters here, not race volunteers or race directors.

Chances are your emotions are running high and you may say things that you'll later reconsider or regret. Family and friends can understand you, but your anger may not go over well with strangers. There will be another time to express your concerns to those responsible, but the finish line is not usually the best time or place. Instead, direct your emotions to those who can provide a listening and encouraging ear.

Think twice before you vent on social media sites. Anything you post on Facebook or Twitter is accessible to a large public, so make sure you are making comments that won't later cause you further frustrations. Please remember that race volunteers are not likely responsible for your poor experience. Volunteers offer up their time because they support and believe in your sport, but don't often have a say when it comes to the organization of your event.

2. Reflect

Once you've had some time to cool down and get over your initial disappointment, it's time to sit down and think about what the real issues were. Were you unprepared? Was the organization lacking?

Your poor experience may or may not be your fault. Either way, it's time to fairly assess exactly what went wrong, and why. If there are multiple issues, it may help to write down your thoughts in preparation for the next step.

3. Report

Expressing your experience is necessary not only to help you overcome your disappointment, but to help make the event better for the next participants. Nobody aims to put on a poor event, so keep in mind that the people you are addressing are probably athletes themselves who have made mistakes. Be firm, but courteous. This is not the place for personal attacks, but facts and constructive suggestions.

If you are too aggressive in your approach, your comments are likely to be ignored. However, if you express yourself fairly and respectfully, you are more likely to receive a response. In some cases, it may be appropriate to request a response. A good event organizer should do their best to acknowledge your feedback.

4. Restart

What's done is done. After you have processed your experience and expressed your concerns, it's time to move on. Think and plan out your next event based on what you've learned from this experience.

Remember that for every frustrating experience, there is a fulfilling and memorable one waiting to happen. Don't allow this race to shake your focus or cause you to forget about your goals. Life is full of speed bumps, but overcoming them can develop you into a stronger, more experienced athlete.

Think of what you accomplished at this event. Did you finish the race? Was it your first marathon? Did you have the opportunity to travel? Chances are that it wasn't all bad and nobody can take away your positive experiences. Whether you received a medal or not, you are still a marathoner.

Get right back out there.

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Vanessa Rodriguez is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, an ultra-endurance athlete, and an online editor for

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