"The only bad race, is the one
you didn't learn from."
This was something my first triathlon coach said to me early on my training as a way to take the stress off from an upcoming race. Ultimately it doesn't matter how any single race goes, what matters is that we learn from it, and apply those lessons in a future race. As a multi-sport athlete, we dedicate a lot of time, energy, and resources to training and to preparing for a race. Once that race is complete, and the thrill of the finish line has passed, it's easy to excitedly jump ahead to the next set of workouts, or brush it off and move on. Considering how much time you dedicated to preparing for the race, I highly encourage you to spend an extra 30 minutes to do an honest reflection of the race, write down your notes in your training plan, and identify the areas that could have been improved upon. Even if you won the race, it's worthwhile to identify the elements that allowed it to be a successful race for you.
What should be included in a race report?
For all intents and purposes, you can consider your race to have started the moment you began to pack up your gear. That might have been a week before the race, or the day before, but what you packed (or forgot to pack) had an affect on your race experience. Likewise, although your race performance technically ends once you cross the finish line, everything you do after that has an affect on your recovery and how well you'll be prepared for what's next. As such, your post-race report could include everything up until you unpack your gear! But what's the real point of writing a post-race report?
The REAL question
- If you could re-do this race next week / month / year, what would you do differently?
This is the real reason to write up a race report. If you want to keep your race report brief, just answer this one question. Sure, you may want to recap all the details of the race to share with your family, friends, and followers, but without capturing the challenges that you encountered AND how you would improve on them in the future, then you're just telling the story of the race. Your post-race report should help you grow as a athlete for later in the season, and provide you a thorough recommendation of how to do better when you go back and review your own race report the following year. For more inspiration about what aspects of the race to analyze, here's a more thorough set of questions to guide your post-race report.
Days leading up to the race
- Did you have all the gear you needed? Was there anything you wish you did bring?
- Was there anything you didn't need?
- Did everything fit properly in your bag / luggage?
- What were your final workouts in the days before the race? Would you change anything about them?
- What was the weather in the days before the race?
- What was your nutrition and hydration in the days before the race? Would you change anything?
- What was your final pre-race dinner? Do you feel it worked well?
- Were you able to sleep the night before the race? Why?
- What time did you wake up? Was it enough time?
- What was your race-morning breakfast? Was it sufficient?
- Did you arrive at the race venue on time?
- How was the packet pick-up / registration experience?
- How did your transition setup go? Anything you would change?
- What was the weather on race day and throughout the race?
- Did you arrive at the start on-time and with all necessary equipment?
- Were you able to do a warm-up before the race?
- Did you pick a good starting position?
- Were you able to swim straight? Draft? See the buoys?
- How did you feel during the swim? How was your pacing?
- How was the swim exit? And getting to T1?
- Did everything go smoothly in T1? How could you save more time in T1?
- How did you do mounting the bike? Could you make any improvements?
- How was your pacing / effort on the bike?
- Were your bike handling skills up to the demands of the course?
- Did your nutrition strategy work as expected? Any bathroom stops? Stomach cramps? Bloating?
- Were your clothing choices correct?
- Are there any equipment changes you'd make?
- How did you do dismounting the bike? Could you make any improvements?
- Did everything go smoothly in T2? How could you save more time in T2?
- How did you feel starting the run? Legs? Stomach? Energy level?
- Were you able to maintain your goal paces on the run?
- Were your clothing choices correct? Hat? Sunglasses? Shoes?
- What was your nutrition strategy? Did it work for you? Any changes you'd make?
- How did you feel crossing the finish line?
- How did you feel within the 30 minutes after the race? If needed, what could you do to feel better afterwards?
- Did you take any recovery nutrition within 30 minutes after the race?
- Were you hungry or thirsty afterwards? What did you have to eat or drink?
- Could you have improved on your post-race recovery nutrition (within 30-90 minutes)?
- In the hours after the race, how were you promoting recovery of your legs and body?
- What would you change to help improve your post-race recovery?
Days after the race
- Did you have sufficient luggage / bags for all your gear after the race?
- How did you feel in the days after the race? What can you do in these days to improve your post-race recovery?
- How many days did you take off after the race?
- How soon did you get back to low-intensity training?
- Do you feel that those recovery days were proactive in helping you get back to regular training?
- Were you motivated to start training again? If not, why do you think that is?
As a coach, a post-race report provides insight into how self-aware an athlete is, and how well they are able to reflect and analyze their own performances. By doing a thorough post-race analysis and writing up your race report, you'll be able to identify the positive and negative elements of your race so that you can execute even better next time!
Hint: Do this after your big workouts leading up to the race and you'll be even more prepared for race-day!
To reaching your potential,