Something to Worry About

Don Finlay fell at the winning post after leading at the last hurdle. Don Finlay (1909-1970) was the British team Captain for the 1948 Olympics and was chosen to take the Olympic Oath.
Don Finlay fell at the winning post after leading at the last hurdle. Don Finlay (1909-1970) was the British team Captain for the 1948 Olympics and was chosen to take the Olympic Oath.

There’s a popular pastime among runners gearing up for races … Worry.

The most common topics seem to be weather and race pace. (You’d think pooping would be number two.)

And, yet, those who worry about these two things really ought to be worried about something else.

Worry About the Weather

  • OMG! It’s going to be hot!
  • What if it rains?
  • They say it could snow.

Yup. The weather might suck on race day. The roads might be too slippery. You might get wet and (help me here) chafe? It might be too hot for you to run your target pace.

The weather could also be perfect – cool, low humidity, a single small cloud to block direct sun, and a tailwind the whole way.

You can’t control the weather. It may well do anything on race day. And there won’t be a single thing you can do to change it.

Worry About Making Your Goal Time

  • I know I can make my B goal. The A Goal is going to be a stretch, but I think I can do it.
  • (OK – I’m really going for my Super Secret Goal. Anything else just won’t do.)
  • McMillan predicts X. But, it’s always optimistic/ usually pessimistic/ only accurate if you run the hypotenuse and correct for the current respiratory exchange rate.

Yup. You might not hit your goal. You might have been delusional when you set it. You might be flat on race day. You could be over-trained or under-recovered.

You could also hit every target or find that Race Day Magic is real and come soaring across the line faster than you’d even imagined.

You can’t control your best-possible pace on race day.

So, what’s a poor runner to do?

A Worry Worth Worrying About

If you keep wringing your hands over these things outside of your control, you’ll really have something to worry about!

Consider how the stress of endlessly refreshing the weather forecast page and running new pace predictions might affect your race readiness.

You’re starting the anxiety machine days in advance of your race, running yourself on the same adrenaline you’re hoping will give you a race-day boost. You’re likely losing sleep over it, too. How’s that going to play out?

Some people get so worked up they aren’t in a position to execute.

Others lose steam by the time race day rolls around – they’re cooked and just want it to be over with. Or, they don’t even care any more.

They arrive at the starting line feeling like they’ve already run a race.

If worrying about weather and pace is starting to look less appealing than it once did, here’s what you can do.

1. Take control by running through the worst-case scenarios

  • Live them NOW
  • Experience the emotions; sit with them
  • Plan for any contingencies you can (if yucky weather, wear X, drink Y, open at pace/effort Z)

2. Let them go, you’re done.

You’re ready to race and free to enjoy the days leading up to your event knowing that you’ll run what may come. You’ve set yourself up to make the most of your current level of fitness and run your best possible race.