Why do we beat ourselves up after running a race?

Do you find yourself always over analyzing every race that you run and/or tri? It truly is enough to make or break your entire day.  It looks like this…. The race gun starts; you get that that start line and start up your Garmin or whichever device you use. You run your heart out at a race with thoughts racing by (no pun intended) of “I feel like I am going to die!” “Why am I doing this to myself?” “I need to be running harder!” “Do I stop at that water stop or keep going?” “I’m pretty bad ass, just keep going!” “Only one more mile!” “Just a couple of more blocks!” “I can see the finish line!”  All the while, you keep checking your device to watch your pace and your time. Then you cross that finish line, stop your Garmin, grab water, and catch your breath.   After that, you run to the tent that gives you your finisher’s results, and no matter what, no matter how fast, if you placed, you always think to yourself I could have done better.  I know that I could have run better, harder, faster. Then you analyze your run on your phone once your running device is synched.  I know that is what you all do.  I have been amazed sitting a table to eat and drink after a run, and we are all sitting down doing that very thing and talking to each other about how we think we did. I have placed 3rd twice, once in a 5k and once in a sprint tri, but I still looked back and thought to myself I could have done better. My half PR is a 2:06, not even close to that PR chase of a sub two that we all want.

It is that healthy competition inside all of us that drives us and motivates us.  It gives us that push and determination to try to do even better the next time we find ourselves at the starting line. Just don’t let that over analyzing drive you mad and take over your day or your mood.  I clearly remember a 5K that I finished last summer on a 90 degree humid evening.  I was running so slowly that I almost felt the need to walk. I finished almost 3 minutes later than my PR. I was so mad at myself that I didn’t even enjoy the after party which was unlimited beer tasting with a bonfire. I never even took into consideration the elements of that race, just that it was 3 minutes slower than my PR and how the hell could I have run so slow.  After a couple of days had passed and I processed my negative feelings, the take away from that experience was I need to be more proud of what I am accomplishing and allow myself to accept that I may not have done as well as I was hoping for, but don’t allow these experiences to take over the fun of it too.  I mean, I got a babysitter so that Jon and I could run this together and drink with friends after, and all I felt like doing was sulking.  That won’t happen again! I will be at that race next summer with full intentions of enjoying myself and the after party.  Enjoy the runners high! Be proud of what you have accomplished! Run happy!


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Twin boy parents hoping to motivate and inspire others along our adventure!

9 thoughts on “Why do we beat ourselves up after running a race?

  1. In my experience, I get so involved with the prep and training aspect, that there is a letdown when it is complete. My solution has been to stay focused on the preparation, but also be mindful and focus on the present so the anxiety of the future or depression over the past is limited.


  2. I am not a runner by any means so I am impressed by anyone who runs at all! I think we are often our own worst critics and should try to focus on all that we DID accomplish instead of our shortcomings.


  3. I am not a runner but my hat goes off to runners. You are doing a great job and keep up the good work. Stop being so hard on yourself. Like you said enjoy the runners high and enjoy all of you amazing accomplishments!


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