Acceptance, learning stage, detachment, redemption race—this is how you bounce back from an upsetting performance
If you’re coming off a bad race or performance, chances are, your mind will be clouded with frustration, which is a natural feeling. But beating yourself up for longer than you should will do you no good. Even the best athletes today still suffer disappointing outcomes, but they manage to stay afloat, focused, and bounce back straightaway.
Here are some expert advice you could take into account to help you move on and nail your future races:
Don’t cling to the feeling of losing, it’s temporary
It’s totally normal to feel frustrated and emotional when all the blood and sweat you’ve put up with during training resulted in a loss. Gloria Balague, Ph.D., a Chicago-based sports psychologist, said that feeling disappointed is a normal post-race reaction and they are better if expressed. Besides, it displays your passion for the sport. Allow yourself to go all the way through those emotions, dive in, and throw yourself into them—that way, you’ll be able to detach yourself from feeling it.
Though it’s normal to suffer emotional letdowns, dwelling too much will result in low self-confidence and lack of motivation, which could only worsen your next race.
While recovering, use it to reflect on your next race. Instead of whining too much about it, consider it a learning experience that could improve your performance for your upcoming races. Remember, those feelings are temporary and they will fade away, only if you let them.
Learn from it
According to Cindra Kamphoff, Ph.D., a certified mental performance consultant, the most successful athletes don’t let their losses eat up them, instead, they think of their successes more often because they’re intentional about what they focus on. “Once you learn from your failures, there’s no reason to revisit them,” she says.
Instead of keeping your head down, shrugging off a loss and picking up a lesson or two from the upsetting performance is an effective way for faster recovery. Moreover, if you still have a lot of room to grow, it simply means you’re going to get better at what you do no matter what, only if you let yourself embrace the ups and downs of your career.
Try to think of your loss more objectively: What little mistakes did you do? Did you have enough energy before the race? Were you at your one hundred percent? Did the weather affect your performance? Be more open about improving yourself by asking these questions. But also talk about details of your race to someone who can help you pinpoint areas of improvement like coaches and trainers—it’s a great way of keeping an optimistic mindset, says running coach Cory Nyamora, Psy.D.
Take a break
You might think that immediately throwing yourself into another race is the best way to redeem yourself. Well, it’s not—not until you’ve totally moved on.
Those feelings of desperation to prove yourself or anyone else that you’re capable of getting your act together in a short period after a loss will most likely result in another unsuccessful performance. “It might be best to take a break from racing until you feel emotionally recovered and really miss it,” Nyamora said in the same interview. Take all the time you need to be able to fully recover. Miss the race. Preparing yourself mentally is just as important as being physically ready.
With a different level of excitement you’re feeling before signing up for another race, you’re probably going to have much better race results.