I decided to race last weekend despite having not been training or racing much the last few months. I’ve been taking some time off, but there was an opportunity, I needed a good workout, so I thought I would give it a go. But here’s the thing, I’ve run this race before. I knew the course. I knew what I could run. I knew I could run with the leaders . . . or could I?
Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves. I had to keep reminding myself to race my race from where I was this week rather than last year at this time. It’s easy to slip into a mindset of “I’ve done this before” or “I know how to do this.” The question is where is my fitness today? How should I race now rather than then?
The situations that I can see this coming up are two — after dealing with a lay-off from an injury or after taking time off for other reasons. It can be really easy for runners to head back out to a race with visions of their performance based on their last race, but that can only set us up for disappointment. When we start thinking down the “I think I could path” we often get a real dose of reality trying to put it into action. I’ve actually had runners say to me they were disappointed with a race performance as compared to a previous performance years earlier. Our fitness changes, so must our expectations.
The real question to ask yourself at any given point is “what is my fitness now?” Setting goals or expectations based on an idea of past performance won’t translate into actual performance out on the road or the race track. It isn’t as though we can will ourselves to run faster than our fitness will allow. If we could, everyone would be running world records just by setting their minds to it.
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