This might come across a little ‘ranty’ – but I think it’s rant some folk need to hear, and not because I think they are ‘wrong’… but because too many people are missing out on amazing racing experiences for one reason.
When did some athletes get it into their heads that unless they lay down an impressive time, or smash a PB, that a race isn’t worth doing?
Now I’m not saying there isn’t a time and a place for PB hunting – going ‘sub, whatever’ can be fun. But when that’s all there is, you’re missing a whole wealth of experience that comes from choosing tough races, ones where there is no clear “good time”.
I think external validation plays a big part here. Nothing gives you kudos with your training buddies like a sub-3, marathon, (etc.) but tell some people you hit up an obscure adventure race and you don’t quite get the same kind of adulation. Some athletes even take this as far as avoiding slow, though courses so they don’t have to announce ‘slow’ times to people at the office, “I thought you did a 38 min at your last 10k, Bill?”… fuck these opinions most of all.
All is not lost – here are a few simple tactics and techniques to help you overcome the ‘time-suck’
What Can You Do To Change?
- Start with ‘why’ – Ask yourself ‘why’ you’re signing up… for more on this check out my previous post on choosing better races, but essentially an honest appraisal of why you’re doing an event might lead you to some races you might not have otherwise considered, and for reasons you’d not thought about before.
- Focus on the Intrinsic – A big part of changing attitudes here is to develop a mindset of intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. Think about the last race you did for the joy of it… maybe it was a while ago, early in your athletic career. Make a list of all the things you got out of the event personally, things that weren’t related to the number on the clock. Now bring those to mind when you’re baulking at entering that hilly trail run.
- Acknowledge that a ‘time-free’ race takes the pressure off – Think of that weight lifted from your shoulders! Some athletes suck all the joy out of racing stressing out over performance. Think of it as a racing holiday!
- The secret race – You don’t have to tell anyone you’re racing. In fact, as an experiment, don’t tell anyone you’re doing an event, either before or after… just do a race, any race, preferably a tough one, be mindful of the experience… then move on.
That’s it. I’d love to hear your experiences getting over ‘time fixation’ in the comments below.