disappointed by first race - was I unlucky or am I just too slow?


 I took part in my first race, 10km, a few months ago, and have lost motivation since.

 The training went well - I'm not fast and am never going to be be was pleased when I reached milestones of running for 30, 60 and 90 mins continuously.

I felt ready for the race and hoped to do it in 70-75mins. On the day the conditions were bad - raining and very muddy. It was also a lot hillier than I expected, and I had to walk up and down slippery slopes and steps.

I finished in 82mins, which I was a bit disappointed by, but could be explained by the course and conditions. However, I found the whole experience demotivating as after the first 2km I was running on my own for the whole race. I wasn't the last, but only saw other runners when they came back past me. Some of the martials were great and encouraging, some seemed to want to get home and some had already gone leaving me having to stop to gues the route. When I got to the end the anouncer had packed up and the crowd gone. I'd expected to run with a group who were motivating each other, and found the whole thing a real let down.

I'd like to give it another go, but worried that another race would just be the same. Am I just too slow to be running races like this? Would I always be running alone? Or are there races that would suit me better with a few others running at this pace?

I'd welcome thoughts and experiences. 


  • i think that you might to look at some busier popular races if you want to race amongst others to begin with.
    the smaller tougher races don't always have a wide range of runners
    the big city races are popular with easier courses....

    then once you get your confidence up and racing more then you can start to look at the more scenic smaller ones.......

    I have been running a few years and am running a bit faster than you but in some hard races I am right at the back......I don't mind that now as I am racing myself but I can understand that it can be demoralising when you are starting out

    Good luck
  • Everyone has a race that doesn't go well from time to time, you've just got yours out of the way early on.
  • I would agree with seren nos, take on one of the bigger charity runs, that tend to be easier and more popular so there"ll be a lot more people around.

    And it's good for your confidence to see just how many people enjoy running but are a lot slower than the pace you have achieved.

  • At least if it was a bad one if you choose an easier course or race next time you have a great chance of seeing an improvement. This one gives you something to work on.

    I am the same as Seren and also a wee bit faster but often find myself at the back. I did a Cross Country race last week and was last lady.

    I actually felt proud that I took part and was only last of those who got off their backsides...

    You have to ask yourself why you took part and it it is for your own improvement and challenge then keep going.image

  • Don't dispair. I'm not a back of the pack runner, in fact one race where I was first lady, I spent most of it running alone and the course wasn't well marked so I wasn't too sure of the route and found myself guessing.

    I've finished races well placed and been running alone, try that for a marathon. I know of front runners who have got lost, not just tail enders so it's not your fault or your problem. It can be demoralising wherever you are in the pack so don't feel so alone.

    As seron says - next time go for a big race, losts of people of all abilities. You won't be running alone but I can't promise that the marshals will be any better.

    Picking tough races can mean that the runners will all be a bit more seasoned than you. I would advise that you think carefully about what race you run, ask on here if anyone has ever run it before, get some good feedback, maybe check out the route on a mapping website if you can, even recce it if you need the added confidence.

    It sounds like you picked a tough race so congrats on finishing.

  • Sorry it wasn't what you expected.

    Agree with the others, everyone has some races that don't go well, having one as your first race is bad luck, but it doesn't mean the others will be like that too.

    Definitely worth trying a few more, and as the others say, if it was people around you that you missed then some of the big races will defiitely provide that. The charity ones sometime have a more chatty atmosphere, especially if it's a cause you all have in common the support can be very personal, and I'd find it hard to imagine the marshals at those races going home early, they are amazing.

    It's never nice to have an unpleasant surprise with hills you aren't expecting either, so if this was an issue perhaps go for a next race that not only states in it's published info how many particpants there were, but also has a detailed route available. The reviews in the back of RW magazine also state the time for the last finisher for a race I think? That can be a guide to the sorts of speeds others are doing it at so how much company you'll have at the speed you're expecting to do it in.

    Or is there someone who'd run with you? When I've started asking around I've been surprised how many people at work etc have actually wanted to do a race but not wanted to do it alone and sharing travel and support has worked well.

    Good luck for the next one image

  • Hi

    I am slow and always at the back, also came last in a recent 10K. However, I really enjoyed that one, because the two 'whipper ins' that marked the back of the pack ran with me the whole way chatting to me.

    The bigger charity runs can be fun. I did a race for life 10K in the summer and a lot of people were walking so, even though I am slow there were loads of people behind me, as well as a lot of people at about the same pace.

    pick another one, hopefully you will have a better experience and also see your times come down. As a beginner though, I wouldn't worry about times, each race completed is another milestone, and you will always have acheived loads more than all the people that are at home on the bums.

  • Jane

    Well done on your first 10k race. It is a big achievement and I think you did well in bad conditions. I would guess that because of the conditions a lot of people who might otherwise have been keeping you company towards the back of the pack may well have decided to give it a miss - or dropped out along the way. It is very much to your credit that you stuck it out. Also, if it was your first event it is possible you might have started off a little too fast and paid for it later in the race.

    However, if you enjoyed the training then you should certainly keep going. An 82 minute hilly, rainy first 10k is nothing to be ashamed of. I really think that if you keep at it and enter a few more you will quickly build confidence and speed and you might just surprise yourself.

    As others have said, small races do tend to get packed up faster than ones with more participants and that can feel pretty horrible. However, everyone who did the training and paid the entry fee has the right to finish and be proud. Well done. Keep going. image
  • Unless you're in a relay running is a solo sport.
  • Try a local park run to get running in a group- there are usualy plenty of folk, and if you can do 82 mins for a hilly 10k, you won't be last..a lot of people go slwer then that on a flat road course.

    Look at the finishers times and course profile for the next race you enter, then you'll be prepared.

    And don't worry, every race has someone at the back- if no-one was perpared to come last, then there'd be no races!

  • Hills and mud will make a big difference, so don't be discouraged. Most races publish their 'profile' - hilly, flat, etc. - so you'll be able to find a less gruelling race. Also, check out previous years' results on the web. They will give an idea of numbers and 'standard'. To give you an idea of how much they vary, I can finish in the first third of the field in big races with lots of charity emphasis, and about two thirds of the way down the field in the smaller, club races.

    Is there anyone you can run with to avoid the problem of running alone? A running club might help you meet such a person. Even if they're normally a bit quicker than you, they may well be happy to run alongside you and encourage. I was able to do that for someone recently, and it felt great.

    One good thing - if your first race was so tough, pick an easier one and you'll have a PB for sure!

  • I am probably being a little off here but I am a bit disappointed when someone comes on starts a thread gets a good response from peeps with motivational support and doesn't come back again.

    Maybe there is a good reason then ok I will feel like a cow but for the time being I remain disappointed.

  • Thanks for all the replies - very encouraging.

    I didn't think I'd chosen a difficult race last time but the conditions seemed to make it so.  Other races by the same organisers had plenty of people finishing in 90-120 mins, so I thought I'd be fine. I will go for a flat one next time though. And hope that it's dry.

    I think I'm going to try the Manchester 10k in May.  And maybe a park run or two before hand.

    Training is no problem as my husband slows to run with me, but he obviously wants to go for it a bit in a race and I don't want to hold him back.

    Sorry if my response seems slow. I'm in Pakistan this week and don't have much internet access. I had also ticked the box to ask to be emailed when replies were posted, but for some reason the first notification I received was when the last message above was posted, and so I thought noone had replied until now.


  • No problem Jane as I said if there was a good reason I would feel bad and I do nowimage

    Good to know you are keeping at it and the park runs are a great idea. I recently did my first park run.

    Keep us posted and good luckimage

  • hi all,

    If anyone is still watching this thread, I had another go yesterday and loved it.

    I ran the Manchester 10km and enjoyed the atmosphere and the feeling of being part of a group doing the same thing. I was still a couple of minutes under target, but 5 mins faster than last time, and I overtook more people than overtook me I'm sure. In fact, I think this slowed me down slightly, and I'll try starting a bit further forwards last time. I also think I started too quickly - the first 6km felt great but I struggled at the end.

    Thanks for encouraging me to have another go, and steering me towards a more suitable race.

    I'm even considering a 10 mile or half marathon later in the year. idon't suppose any of you know one with a similar atmosphere, in the north west? If I'm running 10km in 77 mins, I guess I'll be looking at about 160mins for a half marathon. Is 3-4 months of training enough to make the jump do you think?

    many thanks


  • I am running my first race shortly and hoping that I do not have the same problems. It's a very hill cause organised by a local running club. Luckily last years times are slower then what I think I can do.  Will bear the messages on this board in mind if everyone has gone home by the time I finish image

  • Glad it went better this time - 3-4 months should be OK to work up to a ten miler or a half marathon as long as you don't go mad image.


  • hi Jane, I agree that a bigger race might suit you best if you want to see signs of human life on your run. I'd recommend any of the runliverpool events - have done their half marathon a few times and the size of race, route and support all suit a slower runner. that's not til next spring tho' but i think they do have a 10k in autumn ? The english half marathon is Sept/Oct time and that's in Warrington - another big race with a 3 hour cut off which is about standard. good luck

  • Pleased for you Jane it is great when you can see the improvements coming. Keep going and it's a great idea to plan for a 10 miler or half.

    Your 10k time will improve too as you up your distance.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Jane - pleased to see you stuck with it and had a better experience second time round.
    A few thoughts .. maybe weather is a big factor? I suspect more of the 'slower' runners will drop out if bad weather than the faster club / very competitive runners?
    I tend to think of events as runs, rather than races? In reality the only things I'm racing are me and the clock - I'm nowhere near the sharp end.
    Some runs are chatty and I run some parts with a few others, some runs I'm on my own - or following the same person for a few miles without ever getting close.
    And all of them, for me, the real 'fun' and feel good is either chatting before the start, or after the finish, rarely during the run. 

  • Thanks for the comments.

    Mick, I see what you are saying about the 'fun' element. Although I have to say I really did enjoy the first 6km of the race on Sunday. I had a couple of quick exchanges with a few people, but it was more the feeling of being part of something which other people were also doing. Maybe as/if I improve this will become less important to me, but for the moment I think I'll look for similar events. I did like the whole feeling of the run, and certainly wasn't thinking of it as racing anything other than the clock. I really see what you mean there.

    It's good to hear you don't think a half is beyond me. I know I'd be slow, but my stamina is fairly good. I've had a look at the Engligh one in Warrington, although I'm slightly put off by the fact the first half is uphill.

    Flo Po - you say my speed will improve as I up my distance. Do you think it is best to focus on increasing distance for the moment rather than trying to do anything specifically about my speed? My vague plan was to keep with the 2 short runs each week (about an hour each, usually one with some sprints or hills) and gradually increase the distance of the long run at the weekend until I'm running for 2.5 hours fairly comfortably. But i wasn't sure if I needed to be more structured on speed work.

    Victoria - Good Luck!



  • I am no expert but what you have planned sounds sensible the long run should be nice and easy and save your effort for your shorter ones.

    Maybe you could print off a plan for a half, if you do it on smart coach on here you can make it as long as you want depending on when the event is.

    One good think about doing a tougher half first is the guarenteed P.B next timeimage

  • Thanks. I'll look at those plans.

  • Well done Jane. Really glad to hear you're still enjoying running. Onwards and upwards. image

  • I just joined a running club!

    Well, they describe themselves as a jogging group. I went along tonight, and the slow group seemed to run exactly at my pace. Maybe they slowed a little for me, but I didn't struggle to keep up (we did about 7 km in about 55 mins).

    More importantly it was a lot of fun.

  • the way I look at it, you managed to finish. In my eyes thats pretty good. Had my first race the other day and came 209 out of 260. However I loved it. Yes I am slow but the only person I was racing against was myself. I'm never going to win a race ever ever ever. But I enjoy the day learn from it and sign up to the next one. Im doing a 10K next week. I'll be at the back as I am looking at about 55 minutes. However all i'm thinking is turn up enjoy it, chat with like minded people, get me medal go home and think great another one under my belt image

    I dont think you can ever be too slow, the fact that you are there and doing it thats all that mattersimage I know the quick ones will perhaps disagree with what I said but only 1 person out of possibly hundreds can win the rest take part. I'm happy with taking partimage

  • Good advice, and good luck with your run next week. 55mins sounds pretty good to me. Hope you enjoy it.

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