Ian’s top 12 tips for letting go of a poor running performance - and, while we are it, you’re past..
1. Create a positive mantra to counter painful thoughts
How you talk to yourself can either move you forward or keep you stuck. Often, having a mantra that you tell yourself in times of emotional pain and after a poor race result can help you reframe your thoughts.
For example, instead of getting stuck in, “I can’t believe this happened to me, I can’t believe I didn’t run a 4 hour marathon’ try a positive mantra such as, “I am fortunate to be able to find a new path in life and train again for this challenge, the are many who can’t”.
2. Create physical distance
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that you should distance yourself from the person, the location or the running situation that is causing you upset. Creating physical or psychological distance between ourselves and the person, place or situation can help with letting go for the simple reason that we are not having to think about it, process it, or being reminded of it as much.
3. Do your own training
Focusing on yourself is important. You have to make the choice to address the hurt that you’ve experienced. When you think about a person, place or situation that caused you pain, bring yourself back to the present. Then, focus on something that you’re grateful for. Remember the small wins and build on them.
4. Practice mindfulness & meditation
The more we can bring our focus to the present moment, the less impact our past or future has on us. When we start practicing being present, or ‘running the mile we are in’ our hurts have less control over us, and we have more freedom to choose how we want to respond to our lives.
For those new to meditation why not try the free of charge: Learn to Meditate Challenge on https://www.runwithian.com/challenges
5. Be gentle with yourself
If your first response to not being able to let go of a poor result is to criticise yourself, it’s time to show yourself some kindness and compassion. This is a common trait in runners and particularly in those trying to lose weight.
Try treating yourself like you would treat a friend, offering ourselves self-compassion, and avoiding comparisons between our running journey and those of others.
Hurt is inevitable, and we may not be able to able to avoid pain; particularly when we spend months in the build up to an event and create expectations on ourselves. However, we can choose to treat ourselves kindly and lovingly when it comes.
6. Allow negative emotions to flow
If you're fear of feeling negative emotions is causing you to avoid them, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many times, runners are afraid of feelings such as grief, anger, disappointment, sadness and these turn into heightened nerves and anxiety. Rather than feeling them, people just try to shut them out, which can disrupt the process of letting go. These negative emotions are like riptides. Let them flow out of you. It may require mental health intervention, but fighting them can leave you stuck.
7. Accept that the other person may not apologise or a situation can not be remedied
Waiting for an apology from the person who hurt you will slow down the process of letting go. That includes yourself by the way. If you’re experiencing hurt and pain, it’s important you take care of your own healing, which may mean accepting that the person who hurt you isn’t going to apologise. If it’s a race that you can’t run again because of circumstance think the same. Don't blame running. Every run is different.
8. Engage in self-care
When we are hurting, it often feels like there is nothing but hurt. Practicing self-care can look like setting boundaries, saying no, doing the things that bring us joy and comfort, and listening to our own needs first. The more we can implement self-care into our daily lives, the more empowered we are. From that space, our hurts don’t feel as overwhelming. Focus on the basics; good hydration, good sleep, good nutrition and consistent training to include strength work and stretching.
9. Surround yourself with people who support you
This simple yet powerful tip can help carry you through a lot of hurt.
We can’t do life alone, We can’t expect ourselves to get through our hurts alone, either. Allowing ourselves to lean on loved ones and their support is such a wonderful way of not only limiting isolation but of reminding us of the good that is in our lives, even if this includes people who have made mistakes too or th eones who hurt us.
10. Give yourself permission to talk about it
When you’re dealing with painful feelings or a situation that hurt you, it’s important to give yourself permission to talk about it. Sometimes people can’t let go because they feel they aren’t allowed to talk about it. This may be because the people around them no longer want to hear about it, don't understand why running is important to you or [the person is] embarrassed or ashamed to keep talking about it. But, talking it out is important. That’s why finding a friend or therapist who is patient and accepting, as well as, willing to be your sounding board is sensible. Remember though, who you pick may also have their challenges too.
11. Give yourself permission to forgive
Since waiting for the other person (or yourself) to apologise can stall the process of letting go, you may have to work on your own forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to the healing process because it allows you to let go of a poor race result, anger, guilt, shame, sadness, or any other feeling you may be experiencing and move on.
12. Seek professional help
If you’re struggling to let go of a painful experience, you may benefit from talking to a professional. Sometimes it’s difficult to implement these tips on your own, and you need an experienced professional to help guide you through the process.