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The 6 possible reactions to a terrible race

The possible reactions to a sub-par day at the race course

Bad races are a very unfortunate but very common part of running. No one wants bad races to happen, but they inevitably will sneak their way into your running career, no matter how long or short that may be. While a truly mediocre performance is a tough pill to swallow, you can take comfort in the fact that everyone has had one (or seven). Here’s how lots of people react in the moment, before the perspective and appropriate reflection has set in.

RELATED: What that bad race or run gone wrong taught you

I’m never doing that again.

Any time you put your heart into something and it colossally doesn’t work out, “I’m never doing that again” is a common thought. With time this outlook will likely fade, but it’s a completely understandable reaction to a tough day on the course.

Excuses, excuses, excuses

Excuses include but are not limited to: I didn’t sleep well this week, my shoes are crap, the weather is terrible, my pacer was bad, and/or I’m not good at running. These excuses have different degrees of validity, but all are common after a bad race.

Tears, so many tears

This reaction doesn’t require explanation. You’re tired, you’re sweaty, you’re overwhelmed, you’re sad–you cry.

How did this happen?

This reaction is from the analytical type of runner who quickly returns to their training logs and pores through them to determine where they went wrong. Were my easy runs too easy? Was my long run too short? Did I not taper enough? What about diet, should I go keto?

I’m doing that again as soon as possible, in fact, is right now an option?


While some runners feel defeated after a poor performance, others feel angry. Anger usually translates to: I want to try again, as soon as possible, ideally right now. They’ve worked hard, they’re fit and they know they’re ready to race fast. Today just wasn’t the day.

I’d like to go drinking right now.

Another completely normal reaction to disappointment. Gather your teammates and blow off some steam. You’ll get that personal best next time.

RELATED: 8 things that are socially acceptable after a marathon

Ultimately, finding yourself emotional after a hard race is extremely normal and inadvertently a good thing–it means you care. Dust yourself off and try again. Chances are, the lessons you learned from one bad performance will help you to many more good ones in the future.