At last night’s track meet, my 800 meter result was two seconds slower than last year. My first reaction was disappointment and frustration. I am sick and tired of not making significant progress. Upon reflection, however, my slower performance is a sign of good things.
How could this be? When you look at race results you must ask yourself some key questions:
Was that the best I could do on that given day, under those specific conditions?
For my 800 meter race last night, my performance was solid during most of the race. My first lap was a couple of seconds slower than the plan, but the strong wind accounts for that. Good start. I lost some mental focus in the first 100 meters of the second lap. By the time I realized what was happening and managed to refocus, I had run about 130 meters slower than the planned pace. From there, I was able to regain my intended pace and then accelerate for the last 150 meters.
Does it show progress from recent performances?
Yes. Even though I finished slower than last year at the same event, I did make progress. My most recent 800 meter race in June was 2:29. This was 4 seconds faster. So, compared to recent performances, this 2:25 is progress.
Moreover, the comparison to last year might not be fair. There have been three events that occurred in the last year that made me slower: two wrecks and a knee injury. In light of the fact that I took one full month off from running, it is a pleasant surprise that I am only two seconds slower. That is a fairly good recovery.
What did I do well during the race?
The thing that went very well in yesterday’s 800 meter race was mental focus. In many recent events, I have lost my mental focus about half way through the race and never regained it. I have tailored my training to overcome this by practicing getting fatigued and then running at race pace. It has pushed my body to prepare to battle through fatigue. It has prepared my mind to recover focus.
What aspect of your race do I want to improve on before the next race?
I still had 130 meters in this 800 meter race where I did not maintain focus, so I will continue to work on that. I know that training is working. I see the improvement.
With all of this in mind, I know that my current training is effective. I have every reason to expect some personal records to fall over the next few months.
Every race is another opportunity to assess progress and make changes if needed. I have another 800 meter race in four weeks. I would like to see a 2:15 this year.
Aim high, but keep in touch with reality.
Give yourself credit for every little bit of progress.
This becomes your courage to push for your best in the next event.
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!”
— P. Mark Taylor
Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running: