This past year I ran a 10k where I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I didn’t perform up to my potential. There it is. I said it. I have no excuses. I had done all of my training, I had set an attainable goal, I didn’t have any physical problems while training, I was properly prepared to achieve my goal, but I didn’t…by 20 seconds.
So what do 20 little seconds matter? They don’t. What matters is that I did not reach my goal. Why? Negative thinking.
This was a large race and I was running with a group of about 20 people; however, I was the only person in the group that was seeded and “racing” the race. There were two groups meeting at one location, about 1.5 miles from the start line. The second group was late to arrive. We had to wait for them because they had the keys to the building that we were going to use the bathroom in before the race. I ran down to the street corner of the street the race was on to find another solution. I looked up and down the street and did not see a port-a-let (or any other viable solution). I asked a police officer if he knew where a restroom was and he responded, “I’m looking for one myself.” I was distraught and forced to wait. I’ve learned from experience that I must use the bathroom before every race; but that is for another blog at another time (I really push myself in races). The other group finally arrived and I used the bathroom. I then ran through crowds of people (non-seeded runners so not in a hurry as well) and got to the start line with about 5 minutes to spare. A little distraught but ready to run nonetheless. I’m always ready to run.
Side note on being ready to run: I had a buddy the other day say, “Bro, I can run a marathon right now without training.” Knowing that he has been deployed overseas and hadn’t been running much at all I responded with, “Dude, I could run a half at all times but a marathon is far man. You could do it without walking at all?” He said in a matter-of-fact tone, “Dude, I didn’t say I would run it fast.” To that I say: “whateves bro.” We’re both way too hip for our age.
Back to my 10k. I started off the race great, staying with the group I was seeded with and passing a few as well. After the first three miles I started to get a little tired. I hadn’t realized that the first half of the course was mostly downhill and the second half of the course was uphill. I had just moved to a new non-hilly area of town and hadn’t run as many hills as I probably should have. Nonetheless I pushed on. I also noticed I was running a phenomenal pace for the first half of the race but could hear myself start saying, “take it easy a bit, you’re way ahead of your time.” That was the first sign my mind was starting to take a trip to negative town. As the hills grew longer and the temperature rose I quickly became fatigued and my pace was slowing down. I started thinking about how I was late to the race, how I had to run that extra 1.5 miles, that I should have run more hills, that I should have run some of my long runs with a faster paced running partner, and that I hadn’t done something as simple as the drive the course prior to the race. I just wanted to get done with this race.
By mile 4.5 I had arrived at negative town. I could not stop thinking about all of theses negative things. People began to start passing me and I didn’t care. I tried to stick with a couple people and draft off of them but they had obviously not started the race at too fast of a pace. I began to think, “I have a good time, I’m over this, I’m just going to coast to the finish line.” So I coasted, right across the finish line, 20 seconds after my goal time. I didn’t know I had missed my goal when I finished because my chip time was different than the clock time and my watch time was pretty close to my goal time. It was up to the chip now. I was just glad it was over.
So why did I run so poorly? The only reason was negative thinking. I once heard someone say that running is 90% mental. I agree. You have to tell yourself you can go farther and run faster. You have to believe that you can achieve the goals you have in front of you. The most important thing I learned in college was in my undergrad psychology class: “You can’t worry about things you can’t control.” That is not saying you can’t learn from your mistakes. For instance, next year I plan to drive myself to the race and get there with plenty of time. But there is no reason for me to get upset at the temperature of the race or the hills. Next time I can train on more hills and run in hotter weather; however, while there in the race you can’t change you training. So deal with it, keep running, get past it, don’t think negatively, achieve the goals, and learn from your mistakes. Too easy.
This blog wasn’t very funny. I think I’m still upset about this race. Oh yeah, and I also learned in psychology class, don’t dwell on the past. But that was the third best thing I learned in college. The second most important thing I learned from college psycology was to look the opposite sex directly in the eyes when flirting. 60% of the time it works all the time.