What I Learned From My Worst Race Ever

Racing is one of those necessary evils as a runner. In my experience, I've never met any runner who doesn't have any negative feelings (whether that be nerves, dread, or fear) as they get on the line to start a race. But the truth of the matter is, races are a way to set goals, push yourself, and ultimately reach those goals. Plus, finishing a race is always the most satisfying feeling (especially when there's free food at the end!). 

This summer, I'm challenging myself to sign up for a few local road races to motivate myself to keep running over this long break from university. And because I've signed up for my first half-marathon in October (!!!), I'm trying to find some fun races to get used to the longer distance. One way to easily find amazing running events in your area is through Eventbrite- from 5Ks, to beer runs, to relays, they have it all! And if they don't happen to have the kind of race you're looking for, why not make one of your ownYou can sell tickets through Eventbrite, and use it to get the word out, all while supporting local event creation!

If you're thinking of signing up for a race this summer, whether it's your first time, 5th time or 100th time, it really isn't an easy feat. Even us seasoned runners have had our bad moments- from untied shoelaces, to mid-race injuries, to accidental faceplants, anything can happen. But it's important to use those "bad" races as learning opportunities- and that way, they're not actually so bad! 

So to inspire you to race, whether it goes according to plan or not, I thought I would share the story of my worst race ever, and what I've learned from it in hindsight. 

Back when I was in high school, we had an "open" race during the indoor track season. This meant that anyone could participate in any event they chose to- long jump, throws, the 1000 meters, you name it! Naturally, I signed up for the two-mile race because I love distance running (even on a tiny track where I had to do 16 laps). But, of course, no one else is really crazy enough to willingly run the two-mile. I was the only girl who had signed up, so they put me in the boys race with just three other runners. 

I finished my 16 laps slower than I ever had, and blamed the fact that no one was running near me as the reason for my terrible performance. Tired and frustrated, I shrugged it off. But my racing wasn't over. My coach and friends had encouraged me to sign up for a relay race that took place right after the two-mile. I was the last leg of the relay, so I had a bit of time to try and shake the nausea and fatigue I was feeling more and more with each passing moment. 

I knew this wouldn't be a good race. I knew I was going to let my relay team down. But I went out there, grabbed the baton and began the last leg of the race. The first two laps weren't too bad, but it wasn't until lap three where things really started to take a turn for the worst. I was in so much pain that I started to slow down, gasping for air, gagging, and eventually throwing up on the side of the track. But I didn't completely stop running, and was somehow simultaneously throwing up and running those last two laps. I crossed the finish line in dead last, with tears in my eyes, embarrassed at what had just happened. No one was disappointed, though- they just hugged me and said "Hey, you finished!"

What can I say? I'm stubborn. And I always finish a race. 

Despite how cringey (and horrifying) that race was, I look back on it fondly as a reminder that I survived (and completed) a race under terrible circumstances. Even though I'm incredibly proud of myself for finishing that race, I know now that I don't always have to push myself to my limits and that I should listen to my body. But still, remembering how I got through that race always motivates me to push through bearable pain and shut off that whiny voice in my brain that tells me to stop because "I'm too tired and I'd rather be eating pizza."

So, when you have a "bad" race, don't think of it as something truly awful. Bad races are what help you to have good races in the future. You learn far more from the races where you struggle than the races that are a breeze. So even if you have a bad race, keep trying. Sign up for more races, and keep shooting for those goals. 


  1. oooh- I love this! such wisdom. It is true that hard times like these always bring us strength, but I think it is important to note also that you finished! Everything was spitting in your face, the pain and emotion, and you still crossed the finish line. that is admirable, and says a lot about your character. Well done xX upwards from here, right?? xX


    1. Thank you so much, Kynia! I really appreciate your kind words :)

      Leda xx


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