Want to race well? Don’t do what I do.

The list of dumb things I do when I’m racing could fill a book. Starting a race without looking at a course map? Check. Inadequately warming up? Yep. Track spikes on a cross country course? Is there a difference? (That answer, by the way, is yes).

But I kind of took the cake this past weekend at the Sundodger Invitational. The reason it was so egregious is that I knew better. Or, I should say, was inspired to know better by this great post by elite runner Tina Muir on body/self image and whether or not one believes they look like a runner. Read it, it’s great. I read it the day before Sundodger.

So what happened? I got to the starting line and decided that there were people who looked faster than I do. Seriously. This is the crap that goes through my head. Women who were more ripped, longer-legged, and just looked faster. And therefore I lined up behind them in the starting box. Why? Because I’d hate to hold someone back. Or slow someone down. You know, because I don’t LOOK as fast as they do.

And then the gun went off, and I got caught behind them. They didn’t go out as fast as I wanted to. This is by no means an indictment of anyone aside from me and my lack of confidence. The pack closed in around me, 200+ people with a quarter mile to get to a path that narrows to 5-6 people wide. 

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I ended up finishing the race in 11th place out of 218 finishers. I don’t even think I’m in 11th place on my team in this picture. I dug myself a big hole and had to expend a lot of energy to fight (literally) my way back to the front. And all because I doubted myself, my ability, and whether or not I deserved to be on the front line.

It’s one thing to have a bad race. They happen. But it’s another thing to doubt yourself out of a good one. Don’t do it, it’s a waste of your training. Yes, I eked out a 6k PR of 21:48. But could it have been faster had I not had to sprint the better part of a mile to get back into fighting position? I’ll never know.

3 thoughts on “Want to race well? Don’t do what I do.

  1. Awww thanks so much Janet! Glad it helped….or did it? Mayeb it will for next time! You had better line yourself up at the front next time! Just goes to show you earned it, and you are stronger than you think 😀 Be Brave, Be Strong, Be YOU!

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