DEEP THINKING: How to Recap Races Effectively
Writing in the same vein as our two big topics from last Friday’s Coaches Corner, this week’s newsletter is all about how to effectively recap your races.
THE PURPOSE OF A RACE RECAP:
The purpose of a race report isn’t to convey every minute detail about what happened – but to communicate why it matters. For instance, we don’t need a play-by-play of what happened between or at each aid station. We need proof that you’ve thought about what happened, and assimilated it so that you can do better next time.
THE KEYS TO A GOOD RACE REPORT:
THINK DEEPLY to uncover the WHY behind what’s happening, connect dots and see patterns.
The key to using your log effectively, whether it’s after a big race or adventure, or just your average Tuesday run, is thinking deeply and processing your run before writing. Unprocessed information is unhelpful for the athlete and the coach.
ACTIONABLE INFORMATION MATTERS MOST
The best information is ACTIONABLE information. Not just in race reports, but in races too. Choosing to focus on concrete issues that can be addressed i.e. “I struggled to take in gels after 4 hours” is helpful because it’s ACTIONABLE. We can do something with that in training. “I was thinking about whatever and doing xyx between aid stations between miles 32-36” isn’t actionable, and isn’t that useful for the log. It’s clutter. PRO TIP: This isn’t just better for recaps, but for how you RACE as well. Any information that can’t be acted upon, isn’t useful to take in during a race.
Step by Step Guide for Writing a Race Report (and other log entries)
1. Before writing anything, think deeply about your race and organize your thoughts. You should spend more time thinking about your race or run than writing (Think: Zoë’s 60/40 rule). Your log is not the place to process this information, it’s a place to put processed information. If you prefer journaling, that’s great and that can be done outside the log.
(This is a good rule for regular log entries too)
2. Start with a sentence or two that conveys in general how the day went.
3. Convey concisely what went well. (for example: I hiked like a boss, or stuck to my process oriented goals, even when things got tough!)
4. Convey concisely what didn’t go well. (for example: I struggled to hydrate effectively because I rushed through the 2nd aid station, or I felt flat on climbs.)
5. Convey concisely what you could improve. (for example, more strength training might help me feel stronger on downhills later in races.)
6. Always accentuate any positives and externalize the negatives, especially on the mental/emotional side. We like to hear about how you overcame the dark moments and you’ll want to refer back to this specifically later in the training process.
Here’s how Zoë (a professional writer, coach and elite athlete) wrote her race report after her 2nd place finish at the Telluride Mountain Run:
“YAY!!! Such a good day out there! I ran my race JUST the way I wanted. I ALMOST caught the 1st place woman at the top of the final climb but my racing legs were not in a place to overtake her, even though I was moving well. My mental game was GREAT and my legs felt GREAT. At no point did my fitness limit me. I felt 100% prepared. I’m super proud of myself for flipping around a couple tough weeks and turning it into a hardcore mountain celebration where I was really able to show up and compete. Strength training has proven effective for me but I know there is a lot to improve on there. Got 10th overall!!”
Own your training. Trust the process.
TJ & The Microcosm Team.