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Katie Mackey is a distance and middle distance runner who trains with the Brooks Beast in Seattle. See what she has to say below about mentally recovering after a bad race.
The Good And The Bad Days
You have a race it didn't go your way . . . what are you doing afterward to digest that and move forward? What's your process?
"Well, the good news is that everybody has bad days, so you're not alone and it doesn't make you a bad person or it doesn't make you less of a runner because you were feeling bad or you mad a mistake. So I think when you [have a bad race] . . . initially it feels like, 'Oh man I'm walking away from that I don't even want to think about that anymore.' It is important to revisit it because those are the times where you can actually learn the most, and sometimes the worse mistake I've made the more the lesson sticks. It's almost like the worse the consequences the more you're like, 'All right, well, I'm gonna learn what I did there and I'm not gonna do that again.'
"So when you walk away from a good race great you didn't really learn anything, or maybe you did but it's not the same as like looking back on something you did wrong and being like, 'Okay this is where I went wrong, this is how I can fix it, this is how I can change it for next time.' It's such a good opportunity to learn and make yourself better."
The Process Of Learning
So what's your process? You've crossed the line you didn't have a great day -- what do you do?
"Sometimes I can't revisit it right away because after the race you're disappointed and your tired. . . . For me, I just need a little bit of a break. . . . I need to have dinner with my teammates, I need to do something that's going to unwind me, relax me, and something that's gonna be fun and enjoyable. Something like having dinner with teammates after a race -- that's something that's a good example. Then the next day or the day after that, I make a really intentional time to sit down with [my coach], maybe watch the race video, and just ask questions. A lot of times your coaches have a totally different perspective than you do because they're watching the race from the outside. So if I sit down and the first thing I do is ask [coach], 'Well, what do you think I did? What did you see?' Lots of times he has really good feedback. Then watching the race I can see I'm like 'Oh, I didn't see what like that happening but I can see what you're saying when I'm watching it from this perspective.'"