Dealing with disappointment

No high for me

21 to 40 of 44 messages
18/04/2012 at 14:10


I was lucky enougt to share your marathon journey and I am glad we all got the finish line and all have the above mentioned bling to prove it!

All I will say that after my first at London I spent a good few weeks feeling very disappointed- I thought I could do better I was gutted to say the least. It took me a fair few weeks not only to get over being phyiscally and mentally battered (because let's face it we are) and to regain some sort of balance!

I didn't run for weeks after London I just couldn't face it!  But after a month I signed up for a local 10 miler that was months away I then spent the summer running 'just for fun' no plans no pressure- and that was hard because I LOVE a plan being tacked to the fridge!

By the time the race came round I had the bug again! 

I was only ever going to do one.... Sunday was my third... but I am looking forward to new challenges now probably as CB says at shorter distances as have a break from the marathon!

Don't be too hard on yourself- it'll all come right in the end

18/04/2012 at 14:34

@Helen - I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to reading horror stories... I want to know every single possible outcome and then find a solution for it in my head.

I have scenarios that will kick in dependent upon how it goes. As Mick said - sometimes it's just a bad day at the office and others... well - you discover why you love running. I hope that it's like that for me on Sunday... but if it's not - then it's just a mental exercise in getting through it.

Even if it's just a lot of: "This too shall pass..."

18/04/2012 at 15:32

Hi Helen,

Sometimes it just goes wrong on race day. We all know that but when it's a marathon and you've invested so much time and effort in it, it really does make you question whether it's worth it.

When I ran the FLM in 2007 my training went ok - not perfect but not bad and I felt great on the start line. But it was over 21c that day and there was no way to prepare for that. From halfway I had blisters (for the first and only time in any run). Later on the in race water stations were running out. It became a matter of getting round on one piece - I probably walked about a third of the distance and finished well outside my predicted finish time. 

At the time I was disappointed but my memories of the race now are that it was such fantastic fun. This time round the training has gone really well and the weather looks like it will be more favourable. I expect to run faster on Sunday but if, for some reason, it does go tits up again I really will have to question whether I'm prepared to do it all again.

18/04/2012 at 17:31

I feel your pain HL.  I was a little disappointed with my performance first time round at Loch Ness but rationalised it away with saying it was my first and didn't know what it would be like in reality, nobody does.  It left me fed up of training, fed up of running, tired and I said never again.  It took a year to really get back into it.

I got the ballot place for London last year, Soupy let me share her thread and I can honestly say I could not have been better prepared.  Smashed my half PB on the way.  All was looking good but it just didn't happen on the day and I had a shocker.  I can blame the heat but it was just horrible and at times I thought about not finishing.  I was incredibly disapointed with the whole thing though i put a brave face on at the time. 

Apart from one local 10K and the Slog, I haven't run since then.  I've had physio to sort the physical problems I ended up with (longstanding but made worse by longer runs) but I really have no desire to run anymore and that upsets me as I loved running.

This will pass but I have realised that I am not cut out to train for or run marathons.  As and when the notion to do a race again appears it will be no further than a Half.  I do not want to turn over large chunks of my life to training for something which I really don't enjoy and am really not good at.  I've done it twice - which is more than 99% of the population do - but it's not for me

seren nos    pirate
18/04/2012 at 19:04
funny how there doesn't seem to be reasons sometimes for good and bad first i loved and was on a second although a PB.i hated and never ever wanted to run a marathon again,,,,,,infact i was never going to run over a half marathon again.......that was april 2008.......

and now after a few ironmen and a few more marathons and nearly a dozen ultras.....i still not sure what was so horrible about that second marathon that i was upset for weeks about it all......

give yourself time and then just do what you fancy.........whether that is a new career at 800m running or marathons......the choice is all yours....

good luck and congratulations......
18/04/2012 at 19:45

Helen, I would write down anything constructive that you learnt from this, e.g. more 20 milers, different fuelling. Put it somewhere that you can refer to when you decide to train for another marathon. And then forget about it and move on.

Use your fitness to improve your 5k and 10k times, remind yourself racing can be fun and that you enjoy running. Do enough so that Sunday doesn't define how you see yourself as a runner. I had a horrible mara last year and dwelt on it for far too long, ruining most of my running for 2011. Sometimes it's better just to give yourself a slap and get over it. It will make the next time so much sweeter.

18/04/2012 at 22:35
You've just taken part in and finished a marathon, your first marathon. You've done something many can only dream of and something many more don't even dare try. You've completed 26.2 miles in one go. I'm going to say something and I really hope it doesn't sound condescending because that's the last thing I want, but I suggest forgetting your time goal. Focus on what you achieved. You trained for months. It took over your life. You did the miles, rain, sun, frost, and you did it on the day. Yes it was tough, but it's meant to be. But you didn't give up and you did it. You should be very proud of that achievement. It's an amazing achievement.

Put that first marathon into a little box marked 'I did it' and forget about your time goal. Time goals are for the future. Now you've a marathon under your belt, you can go into another one with a much better idea of what to expect. You can tweak your training and you can perhaps aim for a time goal next time with more experience. But no one should beat themselves up for not hitting a time goal the first time out. That's a negative when it should be all positive.

Like I said, I hope this post doesn't sound like I'm suggesting you're not allowed to feel gutted. But I just think it's a shame to see someone finish their first marathon and feel this way.

Well done for finishing your first marathon. On Sunday i'll be watching thinking "I wish I had the courage and perseverance to do that". Enjoy your achievement. And get ready to feel the bug start to bite again in a few weeks when you start to ask yourself "Could I do better next time if I did that differently...." and find yourself entering the London ballot or Brighton all over again. It will happen.
19/04/2012 at 09:25
I had a bad marathon once where I didn't perform well on the day. I spent a lot of time analysing what went wrong. I went to pieces at the end which is a horrible way to finish a race. Eventually I worked it out and accepted it and moved on. I suspect Helen liz will do the same. Ultimately the best way to put an end to this dissapointment is to have a good marathon. Use the "fear" of a bad marathon to motivate you next time. I would say that spending more time on perfecting a good taper would be well spent too.

19/04/2012 at 09:37

There is a real culture on this forum that, once you've run a marathon it has to become some life long addiction, only because it's what other people do.

If it's really not your bag, you don't want to committ that much time to training etc, it's perfectly okay to say "bugger this for a laugh!".

Edited: 19/04/2012 at 09:38
19/04/2012 at 10:33
Hey HL - I'm a week behind you and know that we are at a similar level. I think the whole building the marathon up in your head to be everything is part of the issue. It takes on such mahoosive proportions of mental, physical and social time that it all gets a bit off kilter. Not helped in some ways by the forums - don't get me wrong - they're great - but you can end up over thinking/planning/worrying/what iffing to the nth degree if you're not careful.

I really, really, really want to get sub 5 and I know I'll be disappointed if I don't. (even if I do have plan A,B,C and disaster too) But - and this is where I think you and I need to get our heads to - it's just a long run. We did Ashby in a real good time and 'enjoyed' it. (I use the word enjoyed in it's loosest form) The marathon is 'just another long run' - with slightly larger crowds. If it goes well - wa hoooo and I will feel really up. If it goes badly - it was just one bad long run in hundreds of long runs. Running isn't all about 'the marathon' and the marathon isn't the end, it's just one point along a journey.

I've tried lots of things in life that haven't worked out - some just aren't for me, some I might try a few times and then reject, others I might persevere at because they're doing something positive for me. It doesn't mean I've failed - that's a really harsh word - the experience just didn't live up to my expectations! You have to decide if the marathon 'does something for you'. If it does, great, once you've gotten over the disappointment give it another go, if it doesn't, move forward and start the next leg of your running journey - whether it's for fun, fitness, mental health, races or competition- it only has value if you value it. Running does not have to mean marathon.

The marathon has been your focus for the last 4 months or so, so it's not surprising you're feeling down. Find something else - not running related - that you can focus on and look forward to and watch your toenails grow back for the next couple of weeks!

Really hope you can see the positives in all of this, because there are many.
19/04/2012 at 11:35


i agree with you to a point, it must be in life what ever rocks your boat

marathon running is a challenge - in all areas

some love it and thrive on it all -

 some dont

19/04/2012 at 11:39
DL wrote (see)
I've tried lots of things in life that haven't worked out - some just aren't for me, some I might try a few times and then reject, others I might persevere at because they're doing something positive for me. It doesn't mean I've failed - that's a really harsh word - the experience just didn't live up to my expectations! You have to decide if the marathon 'does something for you'. If it does, great, once you've gotten over the disappointment give it another go, if it doesn't, move forward .....

Very very well put.
19/04/2012 at 11:43


yes nicely put

running can greatly improve lifestyle in many ways

including making one pyhsically fit and feel good

but it doesnt mean one has to achieve marathon distance

19/04/2012 at 13:27

I've been a "lurker" on Vik's thread so have followed your progress A similar thing happened to me in VLM 2010 - should have had a sub-5 but got to about 15 miles and pace deteriorated much as you describe yours did. For me I don't know why it happened and I can only guess that there are so many components to good marathon training that it could have been any one of them - pacing, nutrition, hydration, etc, etc, etc. But you will get over it, think of what you have achieved and you were so close to a sub-5 you have every chance of having another stab at it. I did 5:31 in 2010 and after hitting the wall in my first 20 mile training run for Edinburgh I've decided to aim for sub 5:15 rather than the comfortable sub-5 that my HM times predict. A tough decision to make (I want that sub-5!!) but I think the right one for me. I hope you come back stronger and enjoy racing some shorter distances over the next few months until your motivation returns.
19/04/2012 at 13:45

As others have said, if the marathon isn't for you and you enjoy halves and 10ks more, do halves and 10ks.  I don't think anyone would dare tell Mo Farah he's not a proper runner because he focuses on halves and 10ks!

In terms of recovering from a bad marathon, I've had one shocker, Koeln (October 2010).  Theoretically in the shape of my life and a decent shout at sub 3.  Reality was I messed up my nutrition and hydration in the days beforehand and then had to deal with the race starting at 11.45am on a hot day.  Stupidly didn't adjust my time goal and so hit 10k on pace but by halfway was well off pace (1.35).  Tried to drop out but no-one who spoke English or French (only languages I can manage!) knew how I would get to the finish in those circumstances.  Ran/walked the second half, ending with a personal worst and mild heatstroke.  Physically I was fine within days; emotionally, a mess.  London this weekend will be the first time I've raced a marathon since then and I wouldn't have been ready to race a marathon any earlier.  I spent last year doing different stuff, including my first ultra, and by the end of the year running was back to being something I loved again.  A change is as good as a rest, so don't contemplate a marathon unless and until you want to.

19/04/2012 at 14:31

Thanks to everyone who's responded so openly. While it's not something I'd wish on anyone, it's most reassuring to hear I'm not the only one to have had a less than perfect day in the office - and from people vastly more experienced than I.

I am feeling better about it all today. I'm in the busy office and collecting sponsorship. People have been asking to see the medal and being suitably awe struck. This has reminded me of how few people have run a marathon, and I'm beginning to see it is an achievement. They're all saying how impressed they are I finished and how they bet I must be pleased, and that is beginning to rub off.

I have to say that in the preparation, I'd never considered the idea that I might have a less than ideal race day. I'd only had 2 "bad" long runs in training - and one could be put down to the weather. It had never crossed my mind that it might happen on race day. In all the build up races I'd stuck (just about) to plan and I suppose I just thought the same would happen again. All that positive mental attitude didn't allow any room for doubt. Maybe my expectations of the experience and myself were too high.

I've still not been out for a run, but am thinking that I might go for a no pressure pootle on Sunday (while not watching the London Marathon!) The "never again" feeling has mutated into a "maybe, but not yet". That 5 hrs is just too close to ignore completely. However, it's the training commitment that I'm not prepared to accept again at this stage - it took over life in a way that running hasn't before. There is certainly something in you have no idea what a marathon entails until you've done it. Physically, I think I'd done everything I could have done, but I know I'd be better prepared mentally next time not having to cross unknown territory.

Plan for the summer remains, knock off 5&10k PBs. It would be a shame to waste the hard earned fitness. And thankyou.

19/04/2012 at 18:08


i was watching FLM on TV one year- and an african pulled out at around 6 miles i think

someone with a micro phone went up to him and said

What went wrong any idea

to which he waved his arms and said - no idea

and i've always thought since then

if they dont know or cannot find an obvious answer, at their level

then how are we supposed to  

19/04/2012 at 19:39

Running a  marathon is basically a non-starter for most people who run recreationally

They don't have the physical conditioning, mental strength and time to train fully to achieve it.

They often follow a programme that is the bare minimum and then run some of the way and walk the rest, or try to run it all the way and risk injury. Both these solutions are hit and miss and can lead to dissapointment and self-incrimination.

Marathons are in my opinion over sold, I would say anyone who cannot regulary run 50miles a week including speed and stamina work should not be taking on this distance.

I barely run 40 miles a week and concentrate on 5k and do 10k and HM only when the mood takes me.

I have been running for 3-5 years and am fast enough to finish at the top of my age group and my times are respectable. When I started I didnt race for the first 2-3 years at any distance, concentrating on just running and really that is the advice I would give novices.

When you can enjoy it without a goal for years at a time thats part of the mental toughness you need.

Just run.Make running the be all and end all of your running. Condition your body. Train the mind. Get to know your body in different conditions. Hot cold wet windy. Then when you start racing you will find like I did that you have laid a very good foundation.

I may run a marathon one day. I want to but that desire is based on my currently ability to train and achieve certain times. When you know that you can do X amount of training and get Y result that gives you insight into your abilities.When those abilities get to a certain level I may run a marathon.

Not before.

19/04/2012 at 20:07
Nicely put DL
19/04/2012 at 22:13
Echo all other comments, your achievement is awesome regardless of time. Another suggestion, which has worked for me, is to train using a heart rate monitor and a book called heart monitor training for the complete idiot by John Parker. I trained and raced on Sunday using my HR monitor and it worked for me, would strongly recommend.
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