Had a tough season? Here’s how to reset like an Olympian

Whether your season has resulted in podium finishes or you’ve faced serious challenges, taking some time to reflect and rethink can help you become a better athlete.

If your season hasn’t gone as planned, you’re not alone — even Olympians face similar setbacks and doubts. Canadian Olympic middle-distance runner Maddy Kelly had disappointing races for them at both the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. Rather than fixate on those results, she restated her experience, recalling fielding three national teams in 2022, regaining her national title and running under 2:00 (800m) twice.

Here’s how to find the positive takeaways from your running season, rethink setbacks, and move forward regardless of your season’s results.

Relax and reflect

Your body and mind need some time to recover, even if you feel like you haven’t done your best. While opinions (and your training schedule) differ on how much time you should take off, experts agree that off-season recovery is essential to staying healthy and injury-free. Take a few days or weeks to focus on movements that are less stressful on your body (biking or swimming), or take a few full extra rest days. Focus on getting adequate (even extra) sleep and nutrition.

Woman resting in hammock
Photo: Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez

Show both successes and challenges

Appreciate things you did well, especially process-based goals such as: For example, getting up early twice a week to run or learning more about nutrition. If you didn’t have process goals, it’s still worth noting what parts of your training you excelled in and what was a struggle. If time management was an issue, without beating yourself, write it down. They do this to get better, not to feel bad.

person who writes and reflects
Photo: Unsplash/Green Chameleon

Don’t be afraid to address your weaknesses

Once you’ve taken a good look at your season and given your body some time to recover, explore ways to improve on your weaknesses. We often do most of the work at the aspects of running that we excel at — if you love hill sprints, you probably won’t find any excuses not to do them, and you’ll end up being very strong at running fast up hills.

See your weaknesses as future strengths. Do you really not like speedwork? Know that if you stop avoiding it, it will become easier and you will become a better athlete. It can be fun to hug a weak area once you get past the initial avoidance – you’ll be rewarded as you improve.

person walking stairs
Photo: Unsplash/brunonascimento

Remember why you run

If you’re having trouble resetting after a tough race or season, go back to basics. Remind yourself why you started and take some time to run for fun. If you started running because you felt good about moving your body, find ways to bring that focus back into your training.

That can mean short, easy runs with friends for a few weeks. If that doesn’t get you out the door, you might need to do some feel-good activities unrelated to running until you feel the itch to lace up again. Know that it will come back, and sometimes a break and some time to think is just what your body craves.

Man and child run
Photo: Unsplash/Steve Wiesner

There are no hard and fast rules that work for everyone, but easing the pressure you put on yourself during race season, focusing on sleep, drinking plenty of water and adjusting your diet, and making your running game fun and easier again Getting things moving are great ways to start rebuilding. Remember, you want to run for many years to come, and recovery time (however hard it may be) is essential to years of healthy training and racing.

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