We’ve all watched Olympic athletes fall over a hurdle, tumble on a ski run, or not perform as well as expected and finish last, only to then talk about the positives in the post-race interview. This can sound incredible to us, but they’re using techniques we can all use and benefit from. I’ve put these into 6 tips you can start using today.
1. Be annoyed, briefly
Yes it’s frustrating. You’ve trained long, you’ve trained hard. You were on great form and wanted to show it, and it all went wrong. This is where even the pros might throw a shoe or a ski pole in annoyance! Be annoyed, but not for too long or you’ll just get depressed Move to these next steps as soon as you can.
2. Accept bad days do happen
Sadly it can just be the way of the world. Even if it didn’t go to plan, it was still your best on that day. The pros acknowledge this. We should too.
3. Recognise failure as part of the process
It’s hard to find an Olympian who hasn’t had a race disaster, or even missed a whole Olympics due to injury. They see the larger view and know there will be other chances. Not only is it unlikely to be your last event, but you’re more likely to want to succeed even more, having been disappointed.
4. Analyse what went wrong
Separate out things you couldn’t control (terrible weather, illness, a dog tripped you up) from what you could (training, pacing, setting a realistic goal).
Of the things you could control, what are 3 that you could improve?
How will you make sure they don’t happen again or as badly? What specific actions can you take?
It can help to go through this with a friend who also has experience in your sport. Or in a training diary or blog. Either way, talking and writing about it usually helps you to be calmer and more objective than if it’s just thoughts whirling round your head.
5. What went right?
Think of at least 1 and ideally 3, things that went right. Note them down. Be pleased. And do them again!
These are what the “failed” Olympians draw on in their interviews. You’ll hear them saying they did as well as they could on the day, or they prepared well, or they took a good racing line. They will always find some positives, and so should we.
6. Recover and reset
In the meantime, do whatever it takes to get your mind and body recovered. It could mean a break from training, or maybe lighter training without any gadgets and stats. Just enjoying your surroundings. Maybe you’d like to enter another event to put down the performance you know you’re capable of. Hopefully you’ll act like the Olympians and draw on what you’ve learnt from your bad experience to do even better next time.