Friday thoughts #13: Racing

Racing at Rocky Raccoon. Everything I say here applied in that race.

Well. That’s it. We’ve come to the end of the #fridaythoughts series. 13 articles on a variety of subjects. Some have called them insightful, others more like brain farts.

What better subject to finish on that racing? There’s probably hundreds but I am already committed now so let’s do this.

Racing is a funny word. What is it? One person’s race is another’s adventure. Look at Jim Walmsley last week at WSER. He raced the clock. Ryan Sandes raced the course and the field. I admire both equally. Then there was the last finisher, the indefatigable Karen Bonnett-Natraj who made the 30 hour cut off by a mere 8 seconds. She raced the clock too. Same as Jim. Just a different set of numbers.

And that’s a really pertinent point here. There’s an old cliché about running your own race and that is so true. Especially in ultra-running. This week I am going to give a handful of my own thoughts to help you think about racing and prep for your next event. Like everything running, it ain’t a formula but rather a set of debating points.

A wise old Chinaman once said “he who runs the race of the person in front will probably finish after the person behind…” Now, that is something I have just made up to give this missive a flourish and make me look like I am studied and clever. But it is something I believe in.

When racing there are so many factors that you have to take into account.

  1. Control the controllables, prepare for the unexpected: You cannot make the weather perfect. You cannot absolutely guarantee your guts will hold out. You may fall, you may twist an ankle. You may do lots of things that just, well, happen. The key thing is to have mentally, and in some cases physically, prepared for these in advance
  2. Have a plan: Know what you are a) capable of going into a race and b) what the variables are you need to consider and c) how you plan to run, eat, dress, drink, poo, pee and all that other stuff. The old adage fail to prepare, prepare to fail make a cow’s erse of it applies here
  3. Don’t be a slave to goals: It’s fine to have aims, in fact you absolutely should have them. But don’t make them the be all and end all. Timmy Olson had a 30 hour Hard Rock finish a couple of years back. When his race went tits up, he changed from winning to finishing as goal. Be adaptable and have A, B, C and awfucktheshithashitthefan goals
  4. Practice racing: Pre-race have a go at everything you think you are going to do and experience in race day. That’s your feeding, your gear, your feelings, your mantras, your mindset and your smile. That last one is most important
  5. Enjoy yourself: Except for a very few folks at the elite level, and even then a lot of them, we do this cause we choose to. We love it. Running is an escape. Racing is an experience. Make sure you take the time to remind yourself of that. Be happy. Have fun and make sure you create memories.

I could write so much more but these 5 are the key ones for me. Each one of them could have 5 sub categories but the overarching message is take it serious enough to do your absolute best. But don’t take it that serious that it consumes you. Find the harmony between those two points and racing will be an exceptionally rewarding, enriching and brilliant experience for you.

And so it ends. 13 #fridaythoughts written from the heart. I did this as a way of righting myself and hopefully helping one or two others along the way. Over 10,000 people have read the articles and if a handful got something from them then it has all been worthwhile. If you read, commented, shared or were provoked into thought by these then thank you so much for engaging directly or indirectly. As they say in running, must dash now. I have a busy weekend ahead. Adieu! 


4 replies to “Friday thoughts #13: Racing

  1. Some last minute endurance training could be running round the Shankhill in yer Celtic Tap James😀

  2. I’m not on twitter or Facebook James. Was following your progress on the official site and saw that you were falling back and assumed it was an off day or injury . If it was an injury why didn’t you stop? Need to look after yourself for other days. Hope you are well. Very proud to see you in the G B vest. Something to treasure. Regards

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