Posted by: Joe English | March 10, 2009

Commentary — Winners Don’t Make Excuses; Learn From Those Winners

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

I had the most interesting experience this past weekend that happened after a race. I had been asked to pace a young high-school runner in a 5K road-race. My job was to run a precise time, which was fairly fast — but a bit slower than I would have expected the winner of the race to run. Me and my young friend talked before the race and we decided to take the pace out right on our target and just let anyone ahead of us go. I told him — as I often tell runners — that most people start out too fast and that they may fade, so it’s best just to let them go.

To further set the scene, this was a medium-sized race with — I would say — 15 guys there that looked like they were “in it to win it”. That’s a competitive group; a pretty typical local road-race.

The race got underway and we went out right on pace. There were a smattering of other people around us and two guys that got out ahead of us. I cautioned to “let them go” and “stick with the plan” and that’s just what we did. We went through the first mile on schedule and then, turning back into the wind, the young man that I was pacing faltered a bit. He started to fade. I was going to run right on our predicted time, but since he was in trouble, I continued on at pace to bring it home.

Then with about a mile to go, I decided that I’d try to chase down the two guys at the front, figuring that they’d probably fade as I’d predicted before the race. In the next half-mile, I reeled them both in and found myself on the heels of the leader. I paused for a second or two and then went on past. I accelerated out of the last turn and put ten seconds up on him in the last quarter mile. He had nothing to counter with and I cruised in to win the race.

So now that you’ve got the background, here’s where the really interesting thing happened. After the race the guy walks up to me and asks somewhat confrontationally, “where were you the first two miles?” I explained that I was pacing someone and had come from about ten seconds back to catch him.

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