Congratulations on your race! Next steps are always tricky as we finish a long season or training block. Whether you hit your goal, the race left you broken-hearted, or somewhere in between, you can get more from your race experiences with a post-race reflection.
Post-race Evaluation Questions
Some questions to ask ourselves:
- What can I celebrate about this race?
- What did I learn, practice, or accomplish in this race?
- How did the race play out? How did this compare to the plan?
- How was my fueling (where relevant)?
- What are key takeaways from the race to move me forward?
- How did my training prepare me for race day?
Related podcast episode: Post-race Recovery
What can I celebrate about this race?
First thing first in your post-race evaluation- CELEBRATE! There are many things you can celebrate about races. Even if the day was difficult, were you able to finish? Did your body have the strength to carry you? Were you able to travel or run the race with friends?
Maybe you hit your goal. Take time to celebrate it. Relish the fruits of your hard work.
What did I learn, practice, experience, or accomplish in this race?
Perhaps pre-race you had something you wanted out of the event. Go through each element listed where applicable.
What did I learn or practice?
There are many things in this category including how your gear, footwear, race strategy, fueling, and training worked for you. We will dive into some of these more in later questions.
Take time to think through the highlights of things that you learned or practiced during this race that made it valuable to you.
How was the experience?
Did I enjoy the experience? Did the race details come together? Did I have enough time before the start? Were my accommodations close enough to the race start?
There are all kinds of details you can include in this section including food availability, etc.
Having this in a post-race evaluation will help you think through other race details more and determine if you want to return to the race or what you would do differently.
What did I accomplish?
After contemplating all of the above, synthesize what you accomplished within the experience and details of your race. Accomplishing objectives is not just about your results according to place or on the clock.
How did the race play out? How did this compare to the plan?
Take a few minutes to go through the different stages of your race while it is fresh in your mind. Race plans are often just a framework to help you run strategically, but while in a race, we run instinctually. While you reflect on how the race played out, feel free to note paces, how you felt, decisions made, when you hurt, and what went through your mind at different stages of the race.
How was my fueling?
Fueling and hydration is a major consideration for distance races. Note when, what, and how much fuel you took during the race. How did your body respond? When considering fueling, we also want to think about the days leading into the race. Were you well fueled and hydrated? What did you eat for dinner the night before? For breakfast? How long before the race? Also note when and how often you used the bathroom before the race.
What are key takeaways from the race to move me forward?
After answering all these questions, you probably have some notes of major takeaways to move you forward to your next race. Again, synthesize what worked and what didn’t.
How did my training prepare me for race day?
The most important consideration of them all is how your training prepared you for race day. Were you well-trained for your race distance and course? If you are looking for a customized training plan or a coach to improve your preparedness for race day, check out our training resources. If you have a coach, deconstruct the season with them. What things were a struggle in training? What elements need to be tweaked for you to get the most out of your training?
After completing your post-race evaluation
After you finish your deep dive into your post-race reflections, put it away and have a well-deserved break (if this is the last race of the season). Pull your reflections back out when it’s time to get back to training. Maybe you are in between seasons and you are looking to add in some cross-training. Check out cycling for runners and aqua jogging to keep your body moving towards recovery.