AKA. When You Don’t Reach Your Goals – How to Deal
I’m all for positivity but I think it’s fair to say that this is one night that owned me.
There was more than a bit of anticipation surrounding Nike’s We Own the Night this year, not just regarding my personal goal to PR but there was a collective excitement that brought the females of Amsterdam together during the months leading up to the night. I trained hard for this one, with the Patta Running Team, and by myself both strength and cross-training with some good quality treadmill running, but this is one of those times you quickly learn about as a runner (or an athlete of any sport) that proves that it doesn’t always matter how well you train, or how awesome your feet feel in your Nike Free Runs: There is always potential for something not working out perfectly on Race Day.
I ran the course with Niels of the Patta Running Team who was an excellent pacer and kept me distracted from my fatigue and running fast with lots of tireless encouragement – Niels, I’m sorry for the cursing…
I’m going to skim over the fact that the course was notably too long and that I’d have finished with 44 minutes had it actually been 6.2 miles, the event is essentially a fun run to encourage female empowerment and promote sports, the distance is kind of insignificant. For me it was the heat that got in my way. Yes, you can blame missed goals on anything and everything, and I’m not one to damn every little element that may or may not have contributed to a bad run (I woke up with a cold, the race started late, I didn’t sleep well the night before, whah, whah, whah…), but, the humidity on Saturday night was just silly. I have never been so hot in my life. I dealt with it okay for the first 8k or so, I kept my focus on my mind instead of how my body was feeling, and concentrated on holding the 4th place position I was in. This was another thing that contributed to my demise. I’m not a naturally competitive person; I compete with myself relentlessly but I’ve never been concerned with my performances in relation to other people’s. for some reason, though, when I realised I was running in fourth place for more than half of the race, I dropped my thoughts of a 42 minute finish and devised a new goal of placing fourth or higher. Silly.
So it seems that there are things to learn from failing to reach your running goals:
- Have a little cry and moan if you feel like it (I would have cried had I had enough water left in my body after the sweat-fest) but then realise that it’s just running. Really. All the training may not have gotten you to where you wanted to be right now, but it will. Remember that if you hadn’t put in the hard work you’d be much further behind than you are now.
- Identify what it was that caused you to miss out and make sure you work on improving these areas for next time. I now know I need to do a little less of my training on the treadmill and get outside so I’m more conditioned to running in the elements, stick with the goal I set before the race, the one I trained towards, and not change it mid-race like an idiot.
- Simulate race day conditions. I’ve always been good at this when it comes to morning and afternoon races for for some reason I decided I wouldn’t bother working out my fueling strategy for a late night race and I paid the price with my spectacular positive splitting. I usually eat a big meal right before I go to bed the night before an early race and then either run on an empty stomach or on a banana and some nut butter (This is what works for me after lots and lots of experimenting and conditioning, I don’t necessarily recommend it!). Of course this strategy wouldn’t work after a full day of being awake, moving around and attending the Les Mills Quarterly event, but I didn’t practice alternatives. Would I have reached my goal and gotten my much coveted 42 minute finish had I pre-fueled properly? Obviously I will never know, but I think I would have.
- Perhaps take a few days off from running to properly rest and give your body a break. If you’re mentally feeling a little angry towards your running self this could be particularly useful so that you can return re-energised and ready to jump back into training. It’s now 7 whole days since We Own The Night and I’ve surprised myself by taking the entire week off from all exercise and what’s even more of a shock to this exercise addict is that I’m actually enjoying the break.
- DO NOT think that a Bikram class the day after the hottest run on Earth is a good idea because it isn’t.
Despite my own perceived failure however, the We Own the Night event itself was fantastic. Getting to run as part of the Patta Team and starting up front in the VIP section was epic and I’m so grateful for that experience. The build up from Nike was all good fun, there was chocolate, nail polish, hair-styling and massages pre-race (y’know, all the things us girliessss really loveeeee, squeee!) and the course took in lots of the city’s best sites and was lined with support and cheering, the best of which came from the Patta cheer team, obviously. For some reason the gun went off more than 20 minutes late, which is quite significant when that made the eventual start time around 11pm, but there was also dancing and fireworks, so I’ll let that slide.
I’ll be back next year for sure. And I will PR.