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Good Sportsmanship after a Bad Race (Coaches Corner)


Let’s talk about good sportsmanship after a bad race. I had a fantastic race this weekend at my goal half marathon, but that doesn’t mean that everyone did! Link up with Running Coaches Corner and share your sportsmanship stories.

Double Suz Today! I am taking over Nicole’s Blog Fitful Fitness and discussing how I have integrated Crossfit into her marathon training plan!

This weekend was a great racing day for me. I nailed my A time goal (if you discount the brief bathroom break), I ran exactly the race that I wanted to run, and I felt great when I finished. Not only that, but Alex was there to see it, and he was even there to run the 5K portion!

I am a huge proponent of proper Race Day Etiquette: thanking the volunteers, saying sorry if you accidentally cut someone off, cleaning up your mess and not taking too many samples, and not stopping dead as you finish your race (and causing the person behind you to collide into you). I will admit that I don’t usually stay long after the race is over to cheer in the last person, but I have done so in the past, and I have been one of those at the end!

Just how SHOULD you handle a bad race? Good sportsmanship is so important, and it is time to talk do's and don'ts. Link up with Running Coaches' Corner! good-sportsmanship-after-bad-race-coaches-corner-28/

After crossing the finish line of the Mag Mile Half Marathon, I reunited with Alex, we discussed races, and we started to make our way out of the finishers’ area to the after party (to see my friends at Luna Bar) and then to head to brunch. As we were walking up Columbus, Alex pointed out a few of the top male finishers of the half marathon. He then proceeded to tell me something that REALLY irked me.

Apparently, the 10th(ish, not for certain!) male finisher crossed the line to cheers and congratulations from the crowd, and he not only scowled but actually rebuked the well-wishers, saying how unhappy he was with his time. 

Don't pout after a bad race: how to deal with disappointment and be a good sport when you are disappointed

Please realize that I totally understand having a disappointing race. So much so that I have written a post dedicated to how to talk to someone who has a disappointing race! I learned much of that from my years of riding, from my years of having trips (rounds in the ring) that I was unhappy with, and learning how to handle the various reactions from people as they tried to talk to me after. 

I get it. I know what it is like to compete and finish in a way that most people would dream of but still to be unhappy with your performance. But you never have any excuse to act like an ass. 

Yoda knows you need to get a grip. Just how SHOULD you handle a bad race? Good sportsmanship is so important, and it is time to talk do's and don'ts. Link up with Running Coaches' Corner! good-sportsmanship-after-bad-race-coaches-corner-28/

Not acting like an ass doesn’t mean stuffing your feelings down and pretending everything is all and well. But it does mean having some perspective and gratitude.

Good Sportsmanship After a Bad Race


  • Pout like a little brat, Take out your frustrations on others, or not respond at all
  • Beat yourself up over a bad race, unless you did something morally reprehensible
  • Try to “school” people over why your race was “bad”
  • Refuse or throw away your medal on site (what you do at home is your business)
  • Make it all about you
  • Punish yourself for a subpar performance (by not refueling, not resting, doing more miles than you need to)


  • Take a deep breath, look people in the eye, and say, “Thank you. I appreciate you cheering me on!”
  • Graciously accept your medal, food/goodies, and go find a quiet place to process your feelings. Ask for some space, if necessary.
    • This is both for your own protection (so that you can deal with what is going on in private) but also to protect others (who might be celebrating!)
  • Remember that there will always be another race, if you choose to have one. (Supporters, do not tell us this, it will only anger us. Let us remember it for ourselves!)
  • Congratulate others on a strong race. You may not be happy that they beat you, but face it, they ran a better race. That is worth admiring!
  • Remember that your slow is someone’s untouchably fast. ALWAYS remember this!

Above all, remember this: you are the representation of our sport. The first handful of finishers set the tone for how the public understands us “runners.” You many not have run the race that you wanted, but you still have an obligation to be gracious in defeat and to uphold the standards of our sport. 

Subpar race? How to/how NOT to handle the aftermath #sportsmanship #runchat #coachescorner Click To Tweet

Tell me what else you would add! To keep it positive, what are some of the best displays of sportsmanship you have seen after a bad race/performance?

I am linking up with myself, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Food and Fitness Sunday.

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