Fluke or Evidence of Potential

This comment comes from one of my Mental Game Boot Camp attendees. It is a situation many runners face after a breakthrough performance.

“A year and a half ago I unexpectedly had an almost 12-min PR in a half marathon. I thought it was a fluke and have struggled with the mental aspects of running ever since. I’ve read many self-help and “mental-training” books but haven’t been able to translate it into real life. I feel that this boot camp has given me a framework and a process to actual practice mental training. All the topics covered, I could relate to and have taken extensive notes that I review before almost every run.”

Your feelings and interpretations of a great race is not unusual at all. It is the nature of big breakthrough performances. The performance may have been only something you dreamed of. But everything came together on that day – and voila – you run yourself into another dimension.

In fairness some of these race times could be misleading. So the first thing is to verify the course distance. (Yes, even in this day of certified courses they can be short for a myriad of reasons.) You can even do a simple logic test – ask your fellow runners if the course seemed short. Check your GPS watch (but be aware an accurate course will yield a distance reading that is LONGER on your GPS). Also, consider if you had a tailwind the entire race or if the course was predominantly downhill. If it is a loop course you’re already pretty safe on these last two points.

Let’s assume that what happened really happened. Good course. Good weather. Great run…which by the way is more likely than a short course.

Next, is to learn from the experience. If you don’t learn what you did right, you cannot replicate it.

How did you train? What did you do leading up to the race (race week)? How was your diet, sleep, stress levels? What did you do during the race – what did you focus on, how did you pace, who did you run with? Your aim is to be as specific as possible. This performance did not happen out of chance. It happened because you were physically and mentally prepared. And that met with all the right racing and environmental conditions.

Now let’s address the mental game aspect of great performances. Your objective is to use such performances to help you – not inhibit you.

  1. You cannot achieve something you are not capable of. In other words – it was YOU who did this not someone else. It was YOUR training that got you there, not someone else’s. It was YOUR mental toughness that got you there, not someone else’s.
  2. There is only 100% there is no such thing as 110% (or whatever exaggeration people love to use). 100% is all you have. And on that day you gave closer to your 100% than in the past. You did not run a 110% effort which of course would be unattainable because by definition 100% is everything… everything you have. But on that day you came closer to that 100% than ever before. And that got you the 12 minute PR.
  3. No one has ever run at 100%… not even world record holders.. just ask them. They all say “I could have gone faster” and “I will go faster next time”. We push our limits to get as close (mentally and physically) to those limits (as unknown as they are).
  4. In the end we will never know until some day in the future if that “great race” was a one time event (fluke as you put it) or not. All we can do today, is keep driving forward in pursuit of the elusive 100% day.
  5. This race should be confidence bolstering instead of doubt or fear producing. Use this as evidence that you CAN run faster than you are giving yourself credit for. Feed off of it. Let it serve as evidence of your potential instead of generating fears and doubts of never achieving it again. Or just as bad allowing it to put pressure on you to always do even better than that! (No one can constantly improve and set PRs every time out. This falls into the Perfectionist’s Fallacy. “I always must improve” mentality.)

I hope this helps in reframing your wonderful race! Celebrate!

For personalized mental game training in sports and business: www.mindset4performance.com

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