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How to transfer workout performance to race performance

“Hi Im a high school runner and I have a problem. I can stick with all the top guys at my school in practices and everything, in long runs, intervals, etc. But when it comes to races I cant seem to stick with them. I also ran 470 miles over the summer with my friend and hes the fastest on the team and im about the 7th or 8th at the moment but at practice im right behind him. I find that im always putting myself down and struggle with the mental aspect of running when it comes to races. Could I get some advice please? Thanks much! You’re Great!”

Hello High School Runner. It sounds to me like you have a lot of the qualities that I like to see in my athletes. You have a desire to be your best, and you are committed to working hard, yet you haven’t quite reached the level of runner that you want to be and that you know you can be. It can be very frustrating to be putting in all of the work, but not quite seeing the results in the performances.
My first advice to you is to stay patient with yourself. Not everyone progresses at the same rate and not everyone figures out the racing side of running with the same ease. It is very important to not be too hard on yourself. Don’t get discouraged from a bad race. Take something positive from each race, and move on to your next opportunity to prove yourself. Bad races are definitely not the end of the world – don’t let any one race feel like it is the most important thing in your running. And try not to compare yourself to your teammates – ask yourself if you are giving YOUR best effort. If you are, then stay positive. If you are not, then focus first on giving your all. Never stand at the starting line afraid of having a bad day. Bad days happen (all the time) but don’t waste your energy being afraid of them. You should be standing at the starting line knowing you are going to give your best effort – knowing you are going to race with all your heart – whether it is a good day or a bad day.
I hope you are taking confidence from your workouts. If you are working out with the top runners on your team, eventually you will be racing with them as well. Realize that you are a stronger runner than you are showing in your performances and believe that you will eventually be able to show that. Keep treating your workouts like races and start approaching the races the same way you approach a really good workout. Eventually you are going to figure out the racing.
Make sure that you are preparing both physically and mentally for the races. The physical preparation includes eating right, staying properly hydrated, getting enough sleep, doing a proper warm up, and all of the training that leads up to a race. The mental preparation is a little harder to conquer. You have to teach yourself to think positively and to keep all of the negative ‘self-talk’ and doubt out of your mind. You have to practice keeping your cool and not getting too nervous or anxious for racing – you don’t want to spend your energy being nervous all day long. Another important part of mental preparation is to have a race plan that you are confident in. Try to design a plan that allows you to use your strengths – and then adjust the plan from race to race according to what you are trying to accomplish. I really think that mental toughness is such a key component in racing well. You have to practice being tough in workouts and in races. When the difficult parts of the race come, dig deep and be a tough, gutsy runner.
Most importantly, don’t give up. The challenges that you are facing as a runner are part of the experience that you will learn from and eventually appreciate. One of my favorite things about running is that it does not come easy for me. I like that I have had to work really hard for most of my running accomplishments. Stay persistent and stay consistent. Keep putting in the work that will make you your best. Make sure you are working hard through 12 months of the year – and not just the summer and the season. You have the opportunity in the winter to really build your base for track and for your future cross country seasons–take advantage of winter running. You may find that you have to work harder than anyone else on your team, so be the hardest worker on your team and then take confidence from the fact that you have worked harder than anyone else.

Best of Luck,
Coach Talley

By Corbin Talley – Elite Athlete: Marathoner/Ultra Marathoner | High School Track & Cross Country Coach

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 at 8:01 am and is filed under Coaches Corner, Expert Answers, Motivation, Racing, Training, Utah Running. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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