Every Race is a Lesson Learned

The wonderful thing about racing is that good or bad, there is always the chance to learn something new. For me, early lessons were all about how I am physically capable of more than I ever realized. Subsequent races helped reveal that I can also exhibit more mental strength than I realized to go along with that physical strength.

Some lessons seem logical, but perhaps they need to be experienced first hand in order to sink in completely. That was the case in this recent race.

Rationally thinking, I know I can’t PR on every single race forever. Early races are often PR’s because it is so new. But as you’ve been running and racing for a while, the PR may be more elusive. And that’s really okay! The whole racing experience isn’t solely about the time. It’s about challenging yourself, having fun and participating in the event. That lesson is finally settling in for me!

The other lesson comes from taking note of your body and forgiving yourself for being human. We all get sick from time to time. Last week was one of my times. I knew I was getting better but wasn’t 100% yet on race morning, but I also knew that running the race wouldn’t cause permanent damage. Yes, it pushed my recovery back some and I’ve been sick this week, but it’s not life-threatening. The challenge is to know when it is okay to push forward and to know when to rest.

So while I was disappointed at first, I am at peace with my race. I did as well as I could have given the circumstances, I had a new experience and I learned some new things.

Chime in, what lessons have you learned through racing or running? I would love to hear your stories!


  1. I totally agree, there is a lessoned to be learned from every race. I also feel like I have learned a lot about myself from training. From discipline to pushing myself farther than I thought I could go, these are lessons I apply to other areas of my life.

  2. Jill, you’re a wise woman. I haven’t raced enough yet to stop PR’ing at each race, but I think that time is right around the corner. I did this race on a whim; literally three weeks before the race I decided to do it, and then the last week before the race I went into “elimination” mode from running. So, I trained for two weeks and then had the gall to get all upset about my time. Luckily I have plenty of people telling me what’s what, and that really helped pull me back from my “wallow”. Yes, each race will teach us something about ourselves, about the community in which we train and race, and those that surround us. All put together, a lot of lessons to be learned.

    • The important thing to remember is that no matter what we do, we’re really learning about ourselves. I compare my time to yours and think, “Damn, I wish I had that kind of race.” But there you are, wishing for something different! That just helps me remember that while sometimes using others can motivate us to push ourselves, it really comes down to looking inside and seeing what we take away from each event personally.

  3. What I have learned most, is that I really can do anything I put my mind to. I might not win, or even ever come close, but I am doing things I never thought possible two years ago.

  4. YES! Love this post! Sometimes it just takes some time to be able see races from a different perspective. I know that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned through racing. To get a little more specific, sometimes what seems like a huge failure at first will turn out to be one of your biggest accomplishments.

    I was humiliated and completely devastated after my first marathon took me an hour longer than I had expected due to a really bad case of heat exhaustion. But after I completed my second marathon, I realized how much more difficult that first race had been due to the heat exhaustion . . . and I realized how tough I was for finishing it at all! And to think, I almost gave up on running marathons after that first one, convinced that I just wasn’t meant to run marathons! Luckily, I’m too stubborn to have let the marathon beat me–but otherwise, I never would have known what I was capable of! 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your marathon story… that’s a good reminder that every race is a different event and shouldn’t color your perception of yourself permanently. And over time, the way you view the outcome could completely change, as you explained! Love this example!

  5. I am so glad to hear you say that. Sometimes I think you are way to hard on yourself. You did an awesome job on Sunday considering the prior month of sickness and soreness.

    • I am too hard on myself. And coming from someone who I regularly converse with, I know you witness that and you always give me an honest assessment of when I’m doing that. Thank you!

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