Every runner knows that there are good races and bad races. Every runner knows that when bad races happen they can push you to the brink of insanity. Having a bad race is the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced and that is because bad races are only the fault of the runner running them. We know it’s our fault. My bad races are always my own fault. I will be honest, every time I run a bad race it’s because I either didn’t care, gave up, or didn’t believe I could run well and it’s these self destructive thoughts that cause me to run poorly. I can’t speak for everyone but bad races are my way of causing self destruction when I am not happy with myself. I know this and I’ve always known this. There was an entire season where I ran horribly–my first year of college. I was in a bad place and I felt like I didn’t deserve to be happy and I didn’t deserve good things. I felt worthless, empty, and alone. I just hated myself and my performance suffered because of it. I knew I was a decent runner but I couldn’t get it all to come together anymore and it was because I wasn’t happy with me. My self perception was skewed and my expectations of being perfect were unattainable. I was setting myself up for failure before I even started and I was also beating myself up mentally on a daily basis for things that I could not control. Things that had happened to me outside of my running. Things that did not define me even though I thought they did and things I eventually learned to overcome. I acquired a lot of self destructive behaviors and they caused me to run poorly and I can not blame anyone but myself because I allowed myself to be weak minded. All of the bad races I was having were my own fault because I refused to take control of my mind or my thoughts. It is so important to program yourself to be strong minded. Mental strength will make or break you and that is the difference between a good race and a bad race. When you race you need to put everything aside and only focus on that moment. Mental strength is what separates great runners from decent runners. I’ll admit I’m not always a strong minded runner and I still have my faults with self esteem issues but I’ve been able to perform better ever since I realized that I can control my thoughts. Controlling your thoughts is a powerful tool. Everyone should take a few moments a day and program their thoughts to be more positive, hopeful, and optimistic.
There is a moment in every race where your body will test you. It might be in the beginning, it might be in the middle, it might be at the very end, but your body will test you and at that moment you decide to either give up or give in. This moment defines your race. If I know I tried my hardest and ran poorly that’s one thing but if I know I just gave up during the race than I deserve to suffer the consequences. People don’t deserve sympathy for giving up on themselves because that’s a self destructive decision. I’m not about self pity because that is self destructive. Feeling lousy in a race is one thing but feeling lousy and not trying your hardest is not acceptable. If you feel horrible and try your hardest and still run poorly than you need to be proud of that because you gave your best effort that day. If you give in than you are giving up on yourself and you have no right to be mad about having a bad race. This is why I don’t get upset when I have a bad race anymore–I don’t deserve to.
Bad races happen when we don’t care or give up. They happen to everyone. No one is mentally strong 100% of the time but you can be mentally strong 99% of the time if you allow yourself to be. Visualize yourself doing well and you will do well. Believe you will do well and you will. When you feel your body shutting down run harder and don’t let the pain overtake you. Tell yourself you can succeed anyway and put forth your best effort at that moment. Don’t give up on yourself when you feel down and out–defy your own odds and be the best you can be. Be your best self and you can conquer anything–even the amount of bad races you have.