Athletes have a strange tendency to ask ‘what if…’ at the end of a race or competition.
The process of analysing your performance and thinking about everything that you could have done differently doesn’t start the day after the race or even an hour after the race; it starts the moment you cross the finish line. Yesterday my club finished 3rd in the Birmingham League, winning the team race on the day, and I achieved my highest ever Birmingham League position. Or at least, this is how most rationally minded people would look at yesterday’s race. My take on it was slightly different; as I saw it I could have finished much higher on the day if I had judged the course better and not thought we were at the start of the final lap when we were in fact on the charge towards the finish. I could have pushed on much earlier than I did and would have caught the two runners just ahead of me. Not only would this have given me a better result but the team would have scored well enough to make up the measly two point deficit to the club who beat us into 2nd place overall. My competitors were probably creating their own monologues in their heads at the same time.
This way of thinking isn’t just limited to one race though; I do this kind of thing all the time. Last summer I ran a personal best for 5000m and within minutes of crossing the line was considering everything I could have done to break 15 minutes in that race: ‘if only I had pushed on in that 4th kilometre I’d have been on track at the bell’ It amazes me how quickly you forget the pain and discomfort after a race and assume that you could have just pushed a little bit harder, when in reality you were giving everything you could.
This eagerness to analyse performance and adapt accordingly is undoubtedly a trait that enables athletes to improve; it is also the exact same trait that means we are never entirely satisfied with a performace.
Monday: AM 10km easy / PM 12km easy (22)
Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM road session – 5 sets of 90s/2:00, strides (27)
Wednesday: 15km easy, drills and hurdles (15)
Thursday: AM 9km easy / PM 10km with 2 miles hard (19)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: Birmingham League, Wolverhampton – 12th (15)
Sunday: 25km easy (25)