Flies Stink and an Epic Length Post on the Benefits of Bad Races

Flies, what are their deal? They are attracted to all things refuse, decaying and dirty then at the same time feel like it’s okay to roll around in said filth and THEN come  schmoozing up on me and my food? How wrong and to coin an annoying blonde haired child, “How rude?” (Stephanie was always my least favorite Tanner.)

I know we’ve all heard urban legend that the second a fly lands on anything it throws up, and so I ask, is that true? If so then I’m covered in sh** on top of being annoyed.

pile of poop

There are other ‘flies’ in life, the flies at the office would have to be those people that buzz around eavesdropping and then spread any juicy tidbits they pick up. Pretty much the same people would be flies at high school, only those flies are a hybrid with mosquitoes because they are out for blood. High school is a blood sport.

Being ticketed for a broken taillight could be a life ‘fly’ because unless you get tipped off by a friendly person watching you from the back, how are you to know? Ooooh, this is fun, so I’m going to keep going. Okay, how about going on a first date, you’re walking along on the beach thinking you’re all cool and romantic and BAM seagull poop lands right on your shoulder? True story, happened to my friend who shall remain nameless only a few weeks ago…so sad, he just started dating again and look what happened. :P

I guess nothing to do but deal with those flies and swat them away the best that we can. Bad races and horrible workouts are obvious flies. Necessary evils that come with the territory. Heck, bad days in general, but when it comes to running and working out we ALL have those fly days…sadly sometimes fly weeks. Fly slumps. Been there, let’s not look back through those scrapbooks.

BUT, fly races can be good things:

*The Learning Tool: After you finish, mop up those tears, or wash out that mouth, and think. Could there be a reason that you had a less than stellar performance? Did you go out too fast in the beginning or make another obvious racing tactic blunder? Did you go too hard, too close to the big day? Did you not really prepare the way you should for the race? Are you overly tired? Races are like check-ins and if something’s not working then find a way to fix it.

*You Underestimated: Did you go in with an off race plan or maybe no race plan at all? Racing on the fly can be sort of liberating, but you still want to go in with at least some clear goal or tactic. If you knew certain people were in the race, or if you are on a cross team and you were hoping to beat a certain team, did you underestimate your competition? On the flip side, did you underestimate yourself? Did you hold back too long, maybe you should have surged on a certain lap, closed a gap sooner, made a decisive move? Planning mistakes happen, again, use them as a learning experience and be better prepared for next time.

*The Off-Taper: When you taper for a race that means you intentionally cut back mileage, the days leading up are easier. Tapering is a tricky science, all about finding the right balance between doing enough so that you are sharp and ready to go and not doing too much. Look and see if maybe your tapering was a little off. Tapering usually leaves people feeling like they have way too much excess energy and sometimes we have to force ourselves to not do any more than we should. On the flip side, you don’t want to do nothing or take out all fast running, which will leave you feeling sluggish and slow.

fat runner

You got problems if THIS guy is beating you...

*Overdistance, Underdistance: Was this race ‘your’ race? I mean if you’re a miler and you go run a marathon, you may need to go in knowing that, “Hey, this race is going to be more of a challenge for me than the person who genetically is predisposed to running longer, marathon type distances.” The same for the marathoner running a mile race; it’s great to run a range of races but base the results off of you personally as a runner. If our marathoner runs a decent time FOR THEM in a mile race but comes in dead last, they need to be sure to keep things in perspective.

*Training Through: Did you train through this race? That means was this race not exactly ‘a really big race’ in your training program but instead one along the road to your ‘big goal’ race? This happens a lot for high school and college runners who have to go through league or prelim meets. You can’t rest up for everything because you’d never get in a solid block of training, so for many of the smaller meets you’ll go in without tapering and while you still may put forth your best effort, your legs have that extra workload in them and won’t be as fresh as when you eventually do taper for the big day. This is a big mental thing though because for some people these off races put doubts in their mind and they become afraid that come their ‘big goal’ race they will still feel flat. So you have to stay confident and know that come the big day you’ll be rested and ready.

*Something New: Trying something new on a race day isn’t something you should do. The pile of cheesy nachos an hour before the gun will bring you your own just desserts. In times like these, get through the race and let’s hope it’s a lesson learned.

*New Training: Anytime you go with or are transitioning to a new training method, program, or coach expect that to get results you’ll need to wait through the adjustment period. It takes a few months, yes months at least, to fully adjust to something new and see the results you want. Expect that, and if you really believe in the program stick it out and give it time. That said training philosophies and techniques are VERY personal and if something doesn’t click after an acceptable period of adjustment, reassess. Make sure anything you are doing you fully believe in, running and racing is mental, you have to believe in what you’re doing to make it work.

get to the finish line...then you can die

*Gut it Out: Making it to the finish line despite knowing that you’re having a bad race is one of the best ways to improve your mental fortitude. It’s a mind game. If you were to drop out and stop after each bad race, you run the risk of getting into a very bad habit. There are times when the smart thing to do is drop out, you don’t want to risk an injury, but I’d say for the majority of the time you should stick it out to the end. Why? It’s all mental, if you don’t force yourself to finish when it hurts and sucks too many times, you start to give yourself that ‘out’ and that ‘out’ becomes way too appealing any time a race or workout hurts…and running does hurt. ;)

*Test of Character: Lose as gracefully as you can, or if you don’t meet your goals give yourself an hour, maybe a day/night of wallow, but then get sane and productive.

*The Flies Gotcha: Look, sometimes there are just no reasons for bad races or bad days. The clouds align and they are stormy. To be honest, having exceptional races are a rarity, having good races you’d like to be the ‘almost’ majority, most of them are middle of the road or you at least hit some expectations, but there are plenty of fly races. Bad races and bad days come with the game. You do the most you can to swing the odds in your favor, but at the line it’s all in dem legs and dem legs can be moody like a menopausal woman.

1) What are other flies in life?

How about getting maybe 4 miles into a long run and already scoping out a place for a bathroom plot?

2) One good thing about bad races for you?

3) Worst bad race memory?

The one that instantly comes to mind was when I was running a 10k and through about 4 ½ miles stoked that I was underpace and on track to run a time I REALLY wanted. Crazy how much difference a lap or two can make, I CRAWLED in those last 5 laps. That race was one of the times I wanted to DNF soooo bad…but I didn’t. Haha…that last mile was horrendous!

4) Speaking of, did anyone race this weekend, how did it go? I’m hoping that this post didn’t reopen any fresh wounds. ;)

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10 Responses to Flies Stink and an Epic Length Post on the Benefits of Bad Races

  1. Stephanie

    Two weeks ago I reverted to my high school self and actually cried after my crappy race. It was horrible and embarrassing, but I actually just embarrassed myself more with the crying. I don’t think anyone cared except me and I was making it way too big of a deal. Hopefully not too many people noticed… No matter how long I’ve been running and how many races I’ve done, I still beat myself up.

    I don’t like to make excuses, but sometimes they are legit. Looking back on this, one of the main reasons I know I felt like garbage was because it was my PMS week. Yeah, I know I sound like a whiny girl saying that, but there is some science to it. Our estrogen and progesterone levels are really high at this time, which is not conducive to running fast. Plus we all know we’re a little crazy/emotional during this time too. My head was not in the race at all except for some negative thoughts.

    Just a week later (this past Saturday), I raced again and felt 100 times better. I even ran my fastest 5K in over 6 years.

    • Cait

      nothing like aunt flow crashing the party, stacking the race against u from the start, and THEN making dealing with the subpar performance infinity worse. so i think u deserve a little bit of leeway on the ‘suck it up until u are alone’ card. seriously, sometimes being a girl just aint fair!

      BUT, that’s why i was soooo happy about ur race on sat, i knew how much u’d wanted a fast 5k and so deserved one…sweet redemption! take that wacky hormone levels of last week and shove it. ;)

  2. You are TOO FUNNY!! Urgh worst race experience was a 5k in which I spent the last mile hopping along with serious runners GI issues! I couldn’t even sprint the finishing straight, and I just hobbled past the finish making a beeline for the Porta Potties! :P BAD TIMES!!

    • Cait

      emma, if anyone can feel for u, it’s this girl!! GI issues are the bane of my existence and i kno the dash/shuffle to the porta potty dance oh too well. :P

  3. LOVE this post. Such good reminders. I wouldn’t say I have had a truly terrible race experience but this past half I was really feeling great the first half and then BAM the second half I was just READY to be finished. My mind totally shut down which is so unlike me. usually I am like yeah…just push through it. you got this. that day I just did not have mental energy to want to “push through” anything. Agree…some days just are not your day. But thats okay…there will be another race!

    • Cait

      “there will be another race!” <—- sums it up perfectly! it's tough when u happen to put so much of ur focus on 'one big race' and it can seem like doomsday if it goes awry, but that's just how it goes sometimes and we have to remember that we will get another shot eventually. :) thanks julia…u my friend always state it just right!

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