The Why, When and How of the the Post Race Debrief – by RMA coach Kate Heyward


I had a lot of time to think on my own travelling back from the Great Ocean Road Marathon. A whole day actually. I made an effort to do a stocktake of the positives and where I can learn for next race – and I just wanted to highlight the importance of this exercise, while so many people have raced over the weekend and have big races coming up. Using my race on the weekend as an example, I’ll share some of the things I think I did well, and some things I learnt in the various aspects of my race, the good, the bad and the ugly!

Why do it

A post analysis of your race is for everyone. We are life long learners in the study of running, always aiming to improve. What did you do well? What do you need to change for next time? Some of the benefits to undertaking this kind of exercise include not repeating mistakes (!), not letting your mind dwell on negatives, celebrating what went well and your improvements. 

When to do it

Usually within the first 48 hours of the race, while things are still raw and you can vividly recount everything.

How to do it

I like to write it down somewhere – be it in a race recap, talking  an online discussion with a friend, or on a piece of paper, coffee in hand with a nice view. 

Write down anything and everything that comes to mind, there’s no harm in it.

Dot points are good.

Anything that went wrong or you felt you could have tackled better write what you will do next time instead.

It doesn’t have to be a thesis, in fact my debrief was short and to the point (see below).

Have a laugh about it, you cannot change it now!

Some examples of things to think about:

Nutrition – did your pre-race meal sit well, did you fuel/hydrate optimally, any issues.

Mentally – how was your attitude leading in to the race, when things got tough how did you handle it, what might you do next time, what can you practice in training.

Gear – did everything “work”, any malfunctions

Race Week – were you organised and prepared, were you calm and ready to trust your training

Training – broadly do you see anything you can improve on in training that may have helped you more, enough/too much training, enough specific training, enough taper?
Feel – how did you feel? Some races you feel better than others, can you think why? Usually we know instinctively.

Logistics – did you know all you needed to about the race start, getting there, bag drop etc, was your travel organised or a rush

Racing strategies – did you have a race plan, did you stick to it, what worked and what didn’t

A practical example: Great Ocean Road Marathon – Kate’s debrief


  • I warmed up well and didn’t care what anyone else was doing
  • I was steady and strong to 30km, I paced well
  • I was mentally on my game, I was focused and had hardly a negative thought the whole race
  • I smiled, quite a bit actually
  • I kept my body, face and shoulders relaxed… for the first half at least
  • I didn’t let the “unknown” problem rattle me (see below on water stations)…there is always an “unknown” problem that comes up…
  • I didn’t let what other runners were doing get to me, I ran my own race and it worked

Things to learn from:

  • My body didn’t cope well with flying and driving most of Saturday, I didn’t stretch enough Saturday night. Next time: plan race and travel to allow a day recovery (from travel!) and make the time to stretch/roll (why hamper all that training by not stretching the night before!!?)
  • I put the shot bloks in zip lock bags and forgot to open them, the corners cut into my skin and I dropped the bag once when it got slippery. Next time: practice EXACTLY what I will do in race, in training :/
  • I didn’t know anything about the bag drop and I had a mild panic for no reason – and there was no need to worry. Next time: Stay calm about the little things. Breathe.
  • I misread the water station information and thought there was sports drink at all stations, and it was only from half way. This threw me a little as I was relying on the sport drink from the start (!), but I had to just “get over it” and pretend it wasn’t a problem, I took an extra blok or two. Next time: read race info in detail and correctly.

I encourage the runners I coach, and everyone to do this simple thought process to help get the most out of your experience and prepare you for your future races. You never know how it will help you on your running journey.

One response to “The Why, When and How of the the Post Race Debrief – by RMA coach Kate Heyward

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