Bad Races

Hey Gang!


Huge congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! Lori who ran the NYC marathon in record breaking hot temps, Sean and Adam who ran their first ever marathons in Hamilton, Zoë who showed you can crush a marathon with a smile the whole way, and Andrew H, Steph, Elese and Shauna who rocked the Half Marathon! Way to go everyone.


What I’ve been thinking about lately is tough races. As many “great” or “good” races we’ve celebrated lately, I’ve seen almost as many athletes and friends struggle with tough races. It is a law of averages. There is not an athlete around who has not had a tough race. If you’ve never experienced a bad race, you haven’t raced much. Every single Olympian and world class athlete has suffered their share of tears and disappointment in races. Sometimes, sadly, it happens on the world stage and we all witness it. A bad race is never the end though. It is just that. One tough race. And we can learn more about ourselves from those than we do when it all comes easily.


There can be many reasons behind ‘bad’ races. Battling illness, even something small, can be enough to throw you off your game. Life stress is another one. The mind-body connection is something we’re still learning about, but we do know that our emotional, mental and hormonal states are all deeply intertwined with our physical experiences. How our bodies respond to environmental factors like heat or cold can affect us much more than we might think. A slight injury or just dipping into over-training can be enough to throw a race performance into the struggle zone. And all of these factors combine and influence each other in ways that makes it impossible to control or predict.


The kicker is, when we’re in the middle of a “bad” race, it makes the fight even harder. It hurts more, the negative mental chatter is overpowering, and the will to push dwindles away. There is nothing fun about these experiences. As a coach and fan however, I can say that witnessing athletes power through these races and not give up, is tremendously inspiring and emotional. We know this result is not what you worked for. We know you are terribly disappointed and crying inside. We know every rational thought is telling you to just stop. But you still forge ahead and try with all that you have left. I think it is these “bad” races which really show what toughness is.  We all KNOW how hard it is, because we’ve all been there. It fucking sucks. But unfortunately it’s a rite of passage. If you put yourself on the line enough times, you will have great races, you will have good races, you will have ok races and you will have bad races. It’s normal and to be expected. The trick is not to read too much into them, be able to put them behind you, and move on to the next one, knowing you’re a stronger, wiser athlete for the experience.


On to tomorrow’s workout! Back to Lakeshore and Leslie – 6:05 drills, 6:15 GO time!


I’m thinking we could use a little change of pace (literally) as a re-set between seasons. Many are thinking of ramping up for Spring events and coming off some big work from the Fall. I’m thinking some basics with more focus on drills and some speed will work well for us right now.


  1. 1 mile tempo (to warm-up the body) 2 min rest
  2. 800m as 100m stride/100m v easy recovery jog (I’ll put cones out every 100m) 2 min rest
  3. 1 mile tempo – 2 min rest
  4. 800 m as 100m stride/100m v easy


The idea behind this one is not to leave us clutching our knees in exhaustion but to leave us feeling a bit peppy and energized. We’re reminding our legs how to run fast and feel springy. Hard work will come but it’s best to add it onto legs that remember how to turnover quickly.


That is all – see you in the am!