Here’s an excerpt from my latest book, Racing Wisely, with ideas on using your postrace reflections for self-growth and help in choosing a new goal.
As you take time off of workouts after your peak race, you’ll have some extra free time. Devote this to mental recovery and reflection. It can be tough to be out of the regular routine of your workouts, but it’s important to give yourself some downtime after a peak effort. Enjoy walks in the woods with your dog, go for easy bike rides with your kids, check out a new park or art exhibit or lunch restaurant. As your body recovers, try a new sport—go skiing, or stand-up paddleboarding, or paragliding. Taking a few days or, after longer races, a few weeks off of your regular routine will help you recharge to approach the next training cycle with verve. Meanwhile, reflect on your race.
Wisdom comes from experience. To race wisely, you need to assess what you have learned from each race, then build on it for the next one. Blocking off some time for reflection and taking notes on how the race went will help you plan better for your next personal best. Sit down with your original race plan, to remember your intentions, goals, and all the logistical work you put into the race day. Then write a race report and analysis. This might be a single document, or two separate documents: one a humorous, self-deprecating race report to share with your friends; one a more detailed and personal assessment for your own archives. In self-reflection, make notes on these questions.
- What worked well?
- How did your planning help you control the things you could?
- What elements of your plan paid off especially well on race day?
- How can they be replicated in the next race?
- Most importantly: What did you learn about yourself?
What Didn’t Work
- What didn’t go so well?
- What was different than you expected?
- Was it in your control or out of your control?
- If it was in your control, how would you avoid or cope with it next time?
- If it was out of your control, how did your intention help you set the proper attitude to meet it?
- Most importantly: How can these issues be corrected or improved in the future, with either a change of planning or attitude?
Download a customizable copy of the debrief questions at racingwisely.com.