The Race Mindset Mistake You Could Be Making

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An ultramarathon - especially a 100-mile or more race - is high stakes. 


You’ve invested a lot in the race and don’t want to make stupid mistakes.


And you keep reading that you should have everything “dialed in.” Your hydration dialed in. Food dialed in. Pace dialed in.


People who know what they’re doing, the implication goes, get it perfect.


With all this, it’s easy to fall into perfectionism without even realizing it.


So let’s compare two runners and see how that works out.


Take Runner #1. She has to finish at her time goal. 


She's told a lot of people she's doing this race and has too much on the line to fail in front of everyone. She must get that end result - the buckle. She has one way to succeed (reach goal), and an infinite number of ways to fail (everything else).


It’s a high expectation and she inwardly doesn’t trust herself to do it. She's scared of failing and since anything other than meeting her goal is a loss, she's scared of all the problems between start and finish that could keep her from reaching it.


She plans her race to ensure everything works her way. It has to be perfect.


On race day, she tries to execute her plan but is so desperate to avoid things that can go wrong that when something does - like stomach issues or a gear failure or crew not being at the aid station - she freaks out because it shouldn’t be happening, and quits.


She doesn’t finish.


Now take Runner #2. She wants to finish at her time goal. 


She's told a lot of people she’s doing this race and of course wants to do well. She has a lot on the line - training, sweat, and money - and really wants that beautiful buckle, but it’s more about the experience.


She has high goals. She's nervous but trusts she can solve most problems along the way. She knows she might not hit her time goal and is okay with just finishing - or DNFing if it comes to that - as long as she’s done her best. She also has an infinite number of ways to fail, but many ways to succeed.


She plans her race to max her odds of success. If it’s not perfect, she can adapt.


On race day, she tries to execute her plan. When things don’t go as expected, she tries solution after solution until she figures out how to fix the problem…and keeps going. 


SHE FINISHES.  


Moral of the story: choose a problem-solving approach over perfectionism.


Race problems happen. The longer the race, the more I’d guarantee it. 


Instead of relying on problems not to happen and worrying that they will, you can rely on your ability to solve or figure out a way around them. 


You don’t need everything to go right to hit your goal. Your ingenuity, adaptability, resourcefulness and determination are more positive, powerful fuels for reaching your goal.

Susan Donnelly’s signature
 

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