5 Ways to Find Your Mojo . . .


. . . after a bad race

I’m talking about how to recover mentally, not physically (I covered that recently in this post here).


Today I am joining up with the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share five ways to find your mojo again after a bad race.

One point I didn’t make: have a big goal. A goal so big that you have to keep on running. I’m serious about trying to run a half in every state, but because I want them to be experiences and I want to explore new places, I only do a few a year (usually). I still have 34 states to go. It could easily take me ten years or more — I’ll be close to 70 (or I just might be 70).

The point is it’s a big goal that really motivates me. It motivates me to try to train smart, eat smart, and recover smart. Despite a great year of running so far in 2017, I’ve also had some spectacularly bad races in the past, too.

Take a break from running completely
You may find that you are totally burned out on running; that’s perfectly normal and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s also not a bad idea to give your body a break from running after a longer race. One rule of thumb is to take off one day for every mile you ran — which doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t run in that recovery time, but that you shouldn’t be running as hard or as much.

If you really feel like you never want to run again — don’t! It’s okay. In fact, have you ever noticed that when you can’t run, even if you don’t want to run, runners are suddenly everywhere and you’re totally envious of them?

You’ll know you’re ready to return to running when you look at those runners and think “I want to be running, too”.

Either return to a sport you love or try a new one
So you’ve sworn off running. That doesn’t mean you suddenly have to turn into a couch potato. How about golf? tennis? swimming? hiking? biking? boxing? The alternatives are literally endless these days.

You might just find something new that you love in your downtime. Becoming more than a one trick pony might help your running down the road.


Accentuate the positive
No race is ever all bad, or ever all good, for that matter. There are good things and bad things in every race. Rather than dwelling on what went wrong, think about what went right.

Analyze then let go
It can be easy to lose yourself in thinking about what went wrong for hours, weeks, days.

It’s fine — in fact it’s great — to think about what went wrong, and why. Maybe set new goals that are more achievable for you now; that doesn’t mean you won’t achieve the goals you had for this race some other day.

The most important thing, though, is to learn from your mistakes, but not dwell on your mistakes.

Look for a redemption race
Some people have zero desire to race after a really bad race. Some people, though, feel like proving themselves.

If you aren’t injured, and you truly believe that you can still meet your goals without injuring yourself, see if you can find another race soon. I personally wouldn’t recommend within the next week or two, but you know your own body best.

If you’ve just run a marathon, even if you came up far short of your goal, again, I wouldn’t recommend signing right up for another marathon. It takes a lot longer to recover from a marathon even if you feel back to normal. Too much, too soon could easily be a recipe for disaster.

Unless, of course, you’re an ultra runner and used to running #allthemiles.

So let me know in the comments:

Have you ever signed up for a redemption race?

How do you get back into running after a bad race?

What’s the least time between marathons for you?

30 thoughts on “5 Ways to Find Your Mojo . . .

  1. Absolutely I’ve signed up for a redemption race! I was injured for my first marathon so i knew I needed to come back stronger for my next! This is what motivated me to keep going to the gym and to PT in order to strengthen up my knee and IT band! Thanks for linking up and have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, taking a break after a bad race is a good idea. Take time to lick your wounds and analyze what went wrong and what went right. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to just run free after a bad race too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve taken runbatticals and I’ve run a half PR 6 days after a full marathon. My answer is it all depends. Some training cycles exhaust me mentally and physically while others don’t. That said, I no longer care to do more than one full marathon per year. Even two really sapped me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course I’ve never run a marathon, but I do think that running multiple marathons is not the wisest thing. Easy to say when you’ve never tried it — but just running halfs is hard — can’t imagine the hit my body would take if I did a marathon.


    1. It’s always really hard when you don’t have one great race. That was almost me in 2016, but then Fall came to my rescue. Fall running is just my jam (when it isn’t unseasonably hot).

      I hope that you can still squeeze in some fun and/or great races in 2017!


  4. As you know, Chicago was my really bad race, but I’m happy to say that I’ve done everything you listed! I really haven’t done any running (except for the 5 mile race I ran last weekend). I’m also excited to get back to a workout routine next week (2 weeks off from the gym has been good) and getting back into boxing. It’s such a great cardio workout.

    I’m not sure about my redemption race, but I do know I want to run another marathon because I know that I can still get that PR that I want.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with MCM Mama. I run a lot of races and don’t let them get to me. I always register for another before the race is even done.

    I analyze them for my blog but that’s it. Over.

    You don’t need big goals. Your goal can be just run. Be healthy.

    70 is still young. It’s just around the corner for me. I still haven’t hit my peak. I plan to run in the 70s if I am able or I’ll just walk races.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe *you* don’t need big goals; I find having a big goal very motivating. Everyone is different; that’s what makes the world go round.

      I plan to run the rest of my life — I also know that things happen as we age.

      I don’t think I’d walk races, though. I’d probably turn my attention to other fitness activities I enjoy.


      1. I’ve walked a half with an injured friends. It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I wouldn’t want to. To me it’s not as fun. Everyone is different. And I do enjoy a wide variety of ways to work out.


  6. My worst race was when I had to walk the entire thing due to ITBS. I haven’t done a half marathon since, but I’m OK with that. I finally got it in my head I needed to take time off and focus on getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did one where I walked it with an injured friend (my second Vegas, as a matter of fact). She did go on to finally run one.

      My worst race was also due to IT problems — I only had to walk the last 3 miles, but I was in pain for a long time afterwards and couldn’t run without some pain for months afterwards.

      Obviously, I’ve managed to overcome that . 🙂


  7. Well I had a bad half that kept me from running a race for a year…I just couldn’t get past the heartbreak. After that I learned to hop right back in. I ran a redemption race the very next week when I blew my 10K goal this past Spring.
    I love your big goal idea 🙂 It is good to have a big picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never really stopped running, but I did have one really bad half — painful, that is — and while I kept running afterwards (once I could, anyway), I wasn’t sure about doing a Fall half because I’d always be in pain by the end of a long run. Eventually I wasn’t, though, and I got my redemption race — quite a few months afterwards, though!


  8. I try not to let bad races get to me, but it is hard. I had a very tough trail race this summer… I definately felt like a failure… but did redeem myself at my trail race in Sept.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think the more races you do, the more potential there is for “bad” races, but also the more opportunities to learn from the experiences. I have bad races, but they don’t bother me much (after I’ve had a few days/weeks to ‘move on”), and I certainly don’t let the “good” races go to my head either.

    Liked by 1 person

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