I’ve witnessed runners completing hundreds of events collectively. Everyone reflects differently and although I don’t believe there is a one size fits all approach, not keeping at least some form of brief note after an ultra can be a mistake, I feel. Ask any ultra runner if they have ever made the same avoidable mistake twice!
In particular, after a massive goal to miss out on the reflection phase can lead to a lack of fulfilment along with a loss of direction in my experience as both coach and runner. For clarity I am writing here about your huge ultra goals, the ones you really have to work hard for and test you, for many that is their first 100 mile but your Everest may be a 50k and that is cool too.
I avoid issuing runners a template of questions to answer after an event, that to me seems too rigid and risks becoming a perfunctory task. Instead I simply ask, how’d it go? And let them tell me! From there I can steer better to make sure we arrive at some helpful outcomes or positive reflections, whilst acknowledging and planning to prevent the negatives occuring again. It’s actually a very fast and enjoyable process, most hit me right with such outcomes without any probing as they had to think it through to write to me! Personally, I may also share my thoughts with my crew to see if my race reflections seem anyway in line with my attitude and behaviour they witnessed. I’ll also ask them what I/we could have done better for next time.
Here are some suggested helpful ways to reflect after a big goal, succeed or fail:
For more on Race Reflection, check out our Trail Session video with Ronnie over on YouTube