Sunday, April 27, 2008

The ABC's of the head game that is racing


I've been thinking a lot about racing the past few weeks and conversations with Paulo about the 10-miler, and an ongoing conversation with my training partner Lanny really cemented something I've been pondering. Then today I read a blog that was in line with some of the ideas. it was by Amanda Lovato, and in it she talks about "A", "B", and "C" races:

The other thing that sort of bothers me is when I hear about athletes not caring about a race because it is a "B" race.
What the hell does that mean?
I think that this comment is a cop out. I also find this comment rude. I feel it takes away from the people who beat you and the people you beat. It allows you to go into a race with a built in excuse.


Self doubt is a nasty, nasty thing. No one goes into a race 100% sure that they will perform to their every expectation. But preparing yourself in advance for failure by labeling A, B, and C races or goals gives you that constant fall back in the race. So what is the problem with that? Well, when you compete in endurance events you know that during every race you WILL have ups and you definitely will have downs. Several times you will probably feel like crap and want to ease up. If you go into the race with several fall back excuses already lined up, you are much, much more likely to give up when the going gets tough. If you go into every race treating it as an "A" race and giving it your all, then you pull through the tough spots. No one likes failure. If you turn around and say that it's ok, it was just a "B" race, well then you didn't fail, right? It was just a training race. You can't fail at training!

I'm not saying that we are 100% rested or 100% tapered for every race. Some races we DO train through. Although for every race, your fitness might not be the same, your mental approach to it should be the same. Sometimes you might have poor fitness but you can get through on mental toughness alone. However, poor fitness can also expose mental flaws. If we don't fix these flaws early in the season, what happens when that race comes that you have been building for all year? If you have a bunch of races that you go into without your mental game, then where will it be when the big race comes? It's like doing breastroke because you are saving your freestyle for the next race. Make every race an "A" effort and take pride in your accomplishments. If you don't live up to your expectations, figure out why and fix it. No excuses afterwards, but definitely no excuses beforehand. The fastest way to screw up a race is by giving yourself an out before the gun even goes off.

15 comments:

Wes said...

LOL! I see you carried this post over from your comments on Sarah's post about the upcomming Cleveland half marathon. More than one person, myself included, use races to tune up for their A race... That alone is enough for me. Last year, I gave every race my best. I left it all on the course. This year, I have higher ambitions. I know what is important, and I'm not demeaning the effort of the other athletes. I'm just focused on what's important to me :-)

You are becoming quite the competitor :-) I think it fits you well :-D

Eric said...

I had the same thoughts when I read Amanda's post. It has helped me take a second look at my season. I may still have a B-training race but I'm going to shut my mouth about it.

Paris said...

More and more this blog is void of meaningful content

khai said...

If you're beside me at the start line and ahead of me at the finish, it was obviously a "C" race for me and I was just saving myself for a few key workouts that week...

Jen_runs said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your insight

Bullet said...

Excellent point! Every race is an A race. Every race deserves your full effort.

triguyjt said...

your last line is the most telling.... right on the money, jodi!!.

I just set a goal and go for it. if the race kicks my butt and I don't reach it, I just re-commit and go after the next race.

great job on your 7:48 pace for the ten miler

Judy said...

Good stuff - and congrats on your 10 mile race - I am sure you will have many great stories to come! :-)

Shan said...

odi,

I've been reading your blog for some time now, and I really love all your thoughtful posts! This one really hits the nail on the head. I also read Amanda Lovato's blog, and applaud her (and now you!!) for speaking up. I think it's so important to give it your all no matter what you're doing - in a race, at work, in life! There'll be days when we're tired, there'll be days when we're totally pumped, and every emotion in between. I really look forward to each race I do as a personal challenge, and focus on how I can work harder (and smarter) during training to become better. That sort of hard work and mindset can be translated to all aspects of life, not just triathlon.

Best of luck at your upcoming races, and kick some major booty out there! :)

Cheers,
Shannon

P.S. Congrats on a great 10mi race result!

Shan said...

oops, meant JODI!! (not odie!!) hehe

Al said...

If it's not your "A" race, it's like a super hard workout and I don't think most people go into hard workouts with excuses. But as far as how your race affects other athletes or demeans them seems weird. It's not like most people would brag or say that they let so and so beat them because it was just a training race. I guess there are some buttheads out there who are all into themselves. It's all personal so I sortof agree and sortof don't I guess.

Congrats on the sweet 10 mile time.

sunshine said...

I have been reading your blog for some time now and with this last post, I can only conclude that you have fallen off the deep-end with your increased competitiveness and downright nastiness towards the opinions of others. So what if someone labels races A, B, or C? What about those of us that sign up for events, refuse to even call them races, and merely bask in the sheer joy of the experience? If we stop to help others on the course, pause to chat with friends who are spectactors, and at the end of the day fail to say that we gave it 110% and tried to win, tell me how that is a bad thing? Because it seems by the mere fact that someone says they are not really trying out there on any given day, it seems to have ruined your experience a little bit. Here is a big clue - for the vast majority of us, winning lacks all meaning. We participate for the experience only. For the joy of it.

Ange said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I believe in giving Every race 100%. Absolutely. No excuses. Thank you for this great post.

kerrie said...

i totally agree with you and amanda(little miss sunshine needs to relax) and hear where you are coming from. if you enter a race - show up and race it however you see fit, but bring your 100% on race day(and for some that might mean something completely different that what it means for me...). i don't want to hear that you are tired or not tapered or whatever...if i show up to a race, that is what i am there to do!

TriSaraTops said...

Ouch, man. I can't help but somewhat take this as a slap in the face. I'd like to think you didn't mean it that way.

I stand by my personal goals. I race to enjoy it, for my own personal goals and how I strive to reach them, but we all have our reasons. To each his own...