Monday, March 6, 2017

Race perception

Are you disappointed with races that don't end in a PR or podium?

What types of things do you say to yourself when you racing and training?

Do you refer to yourself as fat or slow?

Do you see yourself as a failure? Your race as a failure?

This weekend, many people raced. There were races from 5Ks to 50Ks to Ironman. I raced, too.

The overwhelming comments that I saw made me realize that "we", in general terms, have become a population that isn't happy or satisfied unless we PR or make a podium regardless of what our training was; regardless of what was going on in our lives; regardless of race conditions.

Let me tell you about my weekend race. I had a 5k. The 5k came after 3 weeks of 12 hour training weeks. I had run for 4 days prior to the race. I hadn't had a day off in a month. In addition to that, I was dealing with some other hormonal issues that strike women as they get older. It is an overwhelming fatigue that makes getting out of bed difficult. Fortunately for me, this usually only lasts one day a month. Sometimes, it ends up being on race day. The weather was brutal. It was so so cold with 40 mph sustained winds, with gusts that were supposed to hit 60 mph.

At the start line, the RD mentioned that going out was going to be great with the tailwind, but OH THE RETURN. The race runs along a dam road. It is fully exposed to the elements.

The second I started running, I could feel the fatigue in my legs. I told myself to fight through it. The race will be over quickly. My legs felt like boulders were attached to them. I was cold. The sun started going behind the clouds.

I was running with the front group. During the first 1.55 miles, the group started thinning out. I wasn't passed once during the first 1.55 miles.

When I hit the turnaround, the wind was so much worse than I could have imagined. My plan was to not worry about pace. I had a goal of making sure not one single person passed me on the second half. Historically, I get passed. I took the opportunity to think of the wind like my hill repeats. Keep up the effort. Effort and attitude are the only things I can control.

I looked straight ahead. I was slowing down, but I was gaining on people ahead of me. One by one, I started passing them.

When I crossed the finish line, I have never been so happy to finish a 5k.

I didn't PR. I had no idea what my finish time was, but I knew I gave it everything I had for the day.

I was happy with my effort. Every race I do is the next step toward my big goals. How I perform during those minor races is more important than my time, a pr or a podium.

Last year, I had a race. In the last half a mile, I was passed by another woman. I came in 2nd that day. I was really angry. I wasn't angry at getting second. I even PRd the course. I was mad because I didn't give my best. I didn't race to best of my ability. I don't mind being beat by better athletes. But I don't like being beat because of something I did....or in this case....didn't do.

Back to my race yesterday, I went to look at the results. I came in 4th place out of 71. My time was 27:57.  This was over a minute slower than my normal 5k time.  Last year in perfect conditions, I came in 7th.

I gave everything I could yesterday. I passed people who started to slow down. I wasn't passed once.

I was happy with my results. My race wasn't going to be on any team highlight reels.

Still, to me, my race was a success. No one can take that away from me.

Yet, I repeatedly saw people talking about their races from the weekend as "failures". "Not my best effort" has come to mean "I didn't PR". Guess what? We aren't going to PR every race. WE aren't going to podium every race.

That's why setting up a race schedule is so important.

That's why it's so important to not just throw races into your schedule.

I have 2 big races planned this year. All other races, leading up to those races, are my practice sessions.

My practice sessions might be A races for other people. Those people will be fully tapered and ready to race. I will be in the middle of a build period. Likewise, my A races might be practice sessions for other athletes.

When you line up for your big race(s) of the year, you need to go into it knowing what your best effort feels like. External factors will always be at play.

You go out there and give your absolute best effort. When you start racing to effort, understanding that finish times are affected by too many factors, you will always be happy with your results regardless of time.

The only time you won't be happy is when you don't give your best.

Isn't that better than giving it everything you had but feeling like a failure simply because you missed a PR? Or a podium?

Yes. Yes, it is.