-- Marathon Running Information, Coaching and Advice from Coach Joe English

Mental Games — Stick With Your Decisions

running-advice-bugI was talking with a friend that other day that had made a big life decision. It was early on and she had no new information yet with which to judge whether she’d made the right choice. I had given her some advice that she needed to slow down and trust her decisions. I told her to trust the process and let things play out. With time she would know if she made the right decision.

I was racing this weekend and I was thinking about how the many smaller decisions we make can add up to a particular result and how we need to both acknowledge those decisions and embrace them when we stick to them. Even if it means a result that we hadn’t predicted. Here’s what I mean. In the race this weekend, I came in second overall by about 30 seconds. It was a small margin to come up without the win. In my head, of course, I immediately went into the cycle of “I could have won this IF ONLY. . .” but then I needed to review the decisions that I made before the race.

Decision one — “this was intended to be a training race for me.” I am currently training for Duathlon Worlds. This particular race was a triathlon. To underscore this point, I haven’t swam in six weeks since my last Ironman race. The choices in my training are to focus on Duathlon right now. This shouldn’t have been a race I was trying to win. Hindsight aside, this decision still makes sense.

Decision two — “I want to work on my bike segment time.” I went into the race with the desire to hammer the bike, at the expense of anything else. I did that. In fact, I was more than two minutes faster than the overall winner. Success, right? Well, of course it is easy to think “if I hadn’t gone so hard on the bike, I would have had more for the run.” But the point was to kill the bike (I did), even if it killed me (it did). Good training workout. Good decision.

Decision three — “I am going to wear my wet-suit.” The decision to wear a wet-suit in a triathlon is always a complicated one. It is a balancing of the increased speed in the swim and the warmth of the wet-suit balanced against the time it takes to take it off in the transition. In this case, I wanted to be warm. (Period). This probably cost me 10 seconds, which in a race with a 30 second differential means something. But I stand behind the choice.

Decision four — “I don’t want to risk blisters, so I am wearing socks for the run.” Here’s a tough one. I have a full marathon in two weeks and I need to take care of my feet. I often get blisters on my instep if I don’t wear socks, but with only 5K to run it was a toss-up. I made this decision before the race. But the eventual winner and I reached our racks within seconds of one another. This likely cost me 15-20 seconds. Again, it seems like nothing but we’re talking about a 30 second race. Here I actually started to reconsider as I took my helmet off. I really thought about it for a moment. I had to let him go and take those seconds to put on the socks. My decision was to protect the feet and I stand behind that. They are fine and I am ready for my marathon. Good decision.

So did I make the right choices here? They were choices that led me to miss out on a win, but the logic behind each one was both strategic and well intentioned. The results of the race map to the decisions I made. I put a priority on doing things that supported my training longer term, rather than the short term gain of this particular race. Looking back, I have to acknowledge those decisions and embrace their impact on both the short and long term results.

My friend shared with me something that I will share with you: “Slow down, calm down, don’t hurry, trust the process.”

You are wise. Make your decisions and then acknowledge them and embrace the results. Second guessing is not a positive exercise. Analysis is a good thing. Go through the analysis and see if you made the right decisions. But stand behind the decisions you made.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.