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.