So many races and events now get the usual treatment of high expectations beforehand thanks to the boom of social media we are constantly being asked to sponsor or show our support from colleagues to family, mates and club members alike. With the seemingly endless need to compete whether against the clock or against another competitor, for a cause or because its trendy, we donâ€™t need to look too far from the usual places to see the euphoria leading up to and pre event clock ticking. However, when as happens to so many, the times arenâ€™t the best, or you didnâ€™t beat a PB or didnâ€™t finish in a projected place or category materialise. Or indeed, the â€˜fuellingâ€™ caused cramps or the wall descended during the run and you hit it square on, the posts are slower in materialising but also alarmingly quick to point out the probable causes of said â€˜less than expectedâ€™ attempt, race, event. Is the question that should be asked, â€œDid I fail to prepare adequately, properly, specifically for the eventâ€ or â€œDid I prepare [myself] to fail, before, during or after the eventâ€? Do we place too much expectation on ourselves, when in fact we havenâ€™t actually prepared for the event as we could have by planning as we would our wedding or our interview for the million pounds â€˜Lord Sugarâ€™ job.
There is a very eloquent pneumonic that paraphrases planning for anything and itâ€™s the 7 Ps. â€˜Prior planning and preparation prevents piss poor performanceâ€™ itâ€™s rough off the tongue, yes, but never a more truthful a statement of intent. Plan it correctly and there is little room for a poor main course Ramsey!!
I listen with surprise though I donâ€™t know why I am surprised really at the lines of chatter at my local park run, the woes of â€˜Again missing out on a PB or, miles away from my best, I seem to be getting slowerâ€™ followed by I will see you tomorrow though for the usual, quite what that is who knows, but you can imagine itâ€™s not stimulating the mechanisms needed to start Jim Smith into breaking PBs anytime soon. I love the Park run ethic and nature of it to inspire the young and old, able and even disabled to get out there and run, walk, collapse laugh and try again, each with their targets and goals week in and week out. Itâ€™s this type of setting of goals we should all aspire to as it focusses us on specific targets and â€˜Shouldâ€™ enhance our means by which we want to achieve them.
So I can forgive the Park runners, in fact I applaud them, keep it up!! But the club runners, club cyclists, amateur racers and die hard event specialists whether 10km on road, trail racers, cross country or sportive warriors, many need to step back and ask themselves am I planning this as I would my wedding or my dream holiday? Why would you leave the passport to the morning of the flight, yet youâ€™d buy new trainers specially to wear on the day of the marathon? Would you go to deepest Africa without pepto bismol and mosquito spray yet youâ€™d gladly eat and drink gels, bars, foods youâ€™ve never tried and tested on any run or cycle before during your big event and wonder where the stomach cramps came from that ruined your event!! â€˜Hit the wall at 18 miles, couldnâ€™t believe it? Really I ask? Never ran for more than an hour mind you day in day out, but bloody fast though, youâ€™d think I should have breezed it, I was 6 minute per mile you knowâ€™, strangely he was great at 10 mile running, but that kind of statement can be counted on numerous hands week in week out at events across the country. (That statement was recited me some years ago, he was genuinely gutted, more at me laughing about it I think)
The goal setting and attainable targets we set along the way are fantastic, motivational and keep us inspired during dark nights, early mornings, weather forecasting sessions and online shopping sessions buying â€˜bargainsâ€™ for our events. But in truth how well planned are these towards your goal, are they specific to you? Just because â€˜Runners Worldâ€™ says â€˜Couch to Olympic Gold Marathon in 6 weeksâ€™ and you paid Â£4.99 for the pathway to that Eden, is it based on YOU, are you the generic one shoe fits all type of man or woman that will benefit from its every line of text? Well in most cases you will get fitter, you may lose a little weight and gain that extra â€˜va va voomâ€™, you hope will see you right come the day of reckoning, but then there is that little word, â€˜Hopeâ€™. Done the miles, quite whether they were specific to what I needed to do, who knows, so letâ€™s hope it goes well on the day, my fingers are crossed. Worse still is the â€˜mateâ€™ or â€˜colleagueâ€™ who did this for that event and if you replicate their methods then surely I can get over the line the same way they did. Hold on and I will do the euro millions tonight too.
Itâ€™s a minefield of information and advice out there. But here is another to chew on. When you choose to target an event, a race, or bucket list achievement, ask yourself, who am I doing this for? If it really is for you, for your pleasure, curiosity, adventure, then devote to it, dissect its demands, Plan it based around you and your lifestyle. Have a starting point, some progressive targets along the way which are easily used to gauge how well your coming along and enjoy the pleasure and reassurance that come race day, whatever the outcome, you know that you did everything you could to get you to the line in the best possible shape and state of readiness you could have planned. This and this alone will give you more fulfilment than what position you came, time you did, person you beat, because all your efforts were driven by you and for you to give everything you could to achieve your goals. The more you expect of yourself by not preparing the harder the fallout come explanation time, because you wonâ€™t be explaining to yourself itâ€™ll be the excuses to everyone else youâ€™ll be trawling out, yet the weight of all the prior expectation will be laid heaviest on you. Be fair to yourself first and foremost.