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What’s your *real* race goal? And why is it different to the one you just told that guy?

7 November 2021

Racing again after so much time away is tough, mentally as well as physically. Now’s the time to put all those coaching tips into action: focus on your progress, not your time; don’t compare yourself to other people; set achievable goals.

One of many gems from Laura Fountain aka Lazy Girl Running

Today was the second Frostbite Friendly League cross country race of the season (yes, it’s only been two weeks since the last one). This time, it was in Ferry Meadows, Peterborough. Fast, flat and familiar; I run parts of the route every week. Conditions were great: not a hint of mud. Mild, with a fresh breeze. Basically… no excuses. How fast I ran today, is how fast I *can* run.

Before the race I had a chat with a teammate; we’d spoken last week about how to judge our performances in this weird world where we haven’t raced for 18 months. We agreed on three things: be honest about where we are now, set a realistic goal, and judge ourselves by that and only that. Last week, this approach worked out. I wanted to run 7 minute 30 seconds miles on a hilly course. I ran 7:20s.

This week, I didn’t have any confidence in my ability. I felt tired – exhausted – and nervous and completely negative. “I think I’ll be slower than the last one”, I said to him. Even though the course was flatter. “I haven’t done any speed training” I said to another friend. Even though I’d run a fast parkrun the Saturday before. Inside, I knew I would be disappointed if I wasn’t faster than the first race, so why couldn’t I say that out loud?

I should have had more faith in myself. I didn’t finish feeling disappointed, I was delighted. I ran just over 7 minute miles; my fastest run for a very long time. My splits were pretty even, only adding 20 seconds for the small upwards section in the middle mile. A couple of times during the race, I even felt like my old self. I sped up to overtake people. I charged down the (only) downhill. I gritted my teeth and pushed to the finish even though I really, really wanted to give up.

So, what have I learned from this race that I can take into the next one?

  1. Be more positive. Have more faith in yourself.
  2. Races and fast parkruns count as training too.
  3. Admit your real goals out loud. No-one apart from you cares if you don’t achieve them.
  4. No-one likes a sandbagger.

Really looking forward to the next Frostbite race. Now, time for some hill training!

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