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The three letters no athlete—cyclist, runner, or triathlete—ever wants to see.
Not after months of training. Not after the all the time, energy, and sacrifice invested into this race.
This was supposed to be a good race and it wasn’t.
And it’s devastating.
But one thing is for sure: This race does not define you. A DNF doesn’t mean you’re a bad cyclist, runner, or triathlete. You’re still an athlete.
With every run you do, you are a runner.
With every ride you do, you are a cyclist.
With every brick workout you do, you are a triathlete.
You are not defined by a finish line. You are still here and you can try again, if you choose to.
Here you’ll find the tips you need to know on bouncing back from a bad race.
3 Tips on How to Get over a DNF
How to get over a DNF? Let it all out
Race day wasn’t your day, and it wasn’t ok.
It’s reasonable to get mad, feel disappointed, get frustrated, and so much more. You have every right to after working diligently to train for your race.
Whatever you believe will be good for your soul right now—sleeping in, going on a vacation, volunteering, or watching movies—do it.
You’re probably familiar with this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, but it’s worth mentioning it now. Because you took a chance and placed yourself outside your comfort zone.
It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”– Theodore Roosevelt
Only when you’re ready, move forward to step 2.
Throw your negative thoughts away
If your thoughts are coming back to haunt you, throw them away.
Bouncing back from a bad race requires you throw your thoughts away. Literally.
An Ohio State study showed that thoughts become real when you talk about or hold onto them.
Researchers discovered that the physical act of writing your thoughts on paper, then throwing the paper away, allows you mentally toss your thoughts.
This means you can increase or decrease the power of your thoughts.
So decreasing the grip of negativity associated with your race means getting it all out on paper and throwing that piece of paper away.
Now, this doesn’t work if you merely imagine throwing your thoughts away. You must convince yourself that your thoughts are really, truly gone.
If you’re not into handwriting, this exercise works digitally, too. When you’re done typing your thoughts, drag your finished document into your computer’s trash can.
Do a post-race review
In your post-race review, you’ll find some wins and losses-both of which will help you grow as an athlete.
You might uncover pieces of information that will help you adjust your training and improve your next race performance. Fill in as much detail as possible using these questions. 1
What did you do for this race? How did you prepare for race day? How much training did you do? Did you take enough rest and recovery days? What was your fueling strategy?
Why did you do that? Did you nix cross-training because you didn’t have time? Did you choose a different drink on race day?
What were your mistakes? Were you too excited? Did you go out too fast?
Did you bonk? Were you unprepared for the course?
What would you change in the future? Would you have arrived earlier? Packed different race gear?
If you’re bouncing back from a bad race, remember, bad races happen to good athletes.
You aren’t defined by one race. You are an athlete—a runner, cyclist, triathlete—who does races.
Remember, you dared greatly and that’s pretty awesome.
Sources, Bouncing Back from a Bad Race Bothered by Negative Unwanted Thoughts? Just Throw Them Away