First off, a big congratulations to Amy M, Amy D, Gaye, Hillary, and Travis for their half marathon success yesterday. For some the stars (AKA hard work) aligned, and you had a stellar (read: deserved) race. For others there may be a few things that were left to be desired. Today I am going to write about writing a Post Race Assessment. How do we extract those gems of wisdom that only come from nit picking our race in close proximity to it's completion?
There is a certain honesty that comes to you about your experience right after you have lived it. You are a little raw, and while the sore muscles are subsiding, the emotional roller coaster you have been on is winding down as well. Some are left with the "lets go on that ride again", others are left with "where's the trash can so I can puke up my lunch". Both emotions, and all those in-between are fine, what's important is to take a little time to understand them.
I know writing isn't for everyone, but I strongly encourage you to jot down your experiences. Months or years from now you will not be able to conjure up your feelings, but reading what you wrote will bring most of it back. Writing about my races is what really made my blog take off, but more importantly, it's made me LEARN from my experiences.
What do you write? How do you go through the process of finding the gems within your race?
Starting out with a brain dump is great. Record the details, and add in the feelings and the emotions that went along. Go mile by mile, stroke by stroke. Important book keeping items are:
- Race Date
- Name of Event
- Importance of Race
- How long did you train for this event?
- Difficulty of the Competition
- Size of Race
- Weather Conditions
- Finishing Time
- Finishing Placing
Now go do your brain dump...
Okay, are you done? Did you get it all out? Nothing left in there? Nothing stewing?
Now we start asking the questions. You have everything off your chest, now we want to take a step back and look for lessons learned. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:
- What was the best part about my race? What part went the best? - What was the worst part? What did not go well? - Did my pre race plan work? Do I need to add anything for my next race, or take anything out? - How did my nutrition work out? Did I follow my nutrition plan? Why? Why not? Does it need changing, does it need more testing? - How was my confidence leading up to the race, and during the race? Was I nervous at the beginning with the crowds? - How was my intensity level? Was I a little too hyped up before the race, or too mello? Did I retain a proper intensity level during the race or do I need to look at that further? - How well was I able to keep my focus during the race. Was I able to keep my mind on my performance or did it wander throughout the race? - Were my emotions under control before the race started? When things were going downhill what was my emotional reaction? Did I hold it together, or did I become frustrated, angry or depressed? - How much pain was I in? How did I respond to my level of discomfort? - How consistent was my race? Were my splits, emotions, intensity, and confidence consistent? - Did I have to respond to any adversity during the race? How did I handle the adversity?
Now we search for links. For example, I lost my focus around mile 6, and my pace dropped, and I started getting frustrated, and then a lady passed me, and I slowed down even more. We would want to tie together the loss of focus with the loss in consistent pace, and we would want to tag that as something we need to work on: How to regain a loss of focus in the middle of a race.
Another example. When my friend that I was running with said "Go ahead if you have more in you" and I decided I could and I just went. I had my best mile of the race after that and maintained my pace the rest of the race. We want to link together an increase in confidence with a faster pace that was maintainable. Lesson Learned "When my confidence increases, I can take on more of a challenge".
You get the gist? By now, you should know where you struggled and where you soared. Rewind to those key points in your race and really try to get down to your confidence, emotions, pain level, self talk, and intensity levels just before your experience. If you really dissect that area of your race you will find the hidden ahh-hahs.
Don't be afraid to talk through your race with others, just ask first, some people don't really want to know the ins and out of GI distress for 2 hours. But husbands, coaches, and best friends will usually indulge you!
For me, I learned more from this last race on Sunday than my last 5 races combined. It tends to be the challenging ones that we have a lot to write about. The great races leave you with a sense of relief! Good luck with your next race write up and let me know in the comments if you have anything wise to add! I would love to hear how you process and digest your race experiences. We obviously keep coming back for more, so we must be learning something from all of these wonderful life experiences!