Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Do you give your best in races?

I signed up for a running race. 3000m indoors. This coming Saturday. My running friend from college was trying to persuade me to sign up for the mile as well. And race in spikes. But I am not signing up for the mile because I do not think that my ego will survive being lapped twice in a mile (I do not mind being lapped twice in a 3k though. I think. I will let you know on Sat.) And I am not racing in spikes because I do not want anyone to get hurt and really, who needs spikes when running 6min miles, right? 

I am not 100% sure that this won’t irritate my ITB. But I am not sure about running on roads either or running more than 50min and I do that anyway, thus I will risk it this time as well.

Now the intriguing part:
In almost every race report I read in blogosphere people say “I worked so hard”, “I gave all I had”, “I gave 100%”, “I was running so fast that I wondered whether I was going to puke” and similar “claims”. I can never say that after my races (ok, in 400m and 800m a long time ago but in longer distances no). Which either means that I am the only loser that cannot give it all, or people are just saying plain bullshit. Or maybe people have no idea what giving 100% truly means and they think they are doing it because it hurts but in reality they are not. Or there are different kinds of hurt. I think that’s it (because I do not think that people are lying (maybe they are lying to themselves though...) and I definitely will not admit that I am a loser, right?).

For me hurt is something you experience when you run 800m (maybe 400 is close, maybe also 1500). And there is no way I can replicate that hurt feeling for a 5k. No way. And therefore when people say that they gave it all I do not believe them because I cannot imagine hurting like that for a 5k. Sprinting for 200m to the finish is not the same although it might hurt badly, but it is only for 40sec. And therefore maybe I only think that I do not give 100% because it does not hurt like 400m hurts but in reality I do give it all, but a 5k kind of giving it all.  

Or I might be wrong and I indeed am a loser who does not want to hurt and thus does not give100%. Maybe you can indeed hurt like that for 18min and I just do not have enough guts to do that.  


  1. I think the fitter you are the longer you can race on the rivet... so people who are not very fit and go race will tell you they were giving everything they had and it was true- they really didn't have anything left. But when you're super fit, and you KNOW what it feels like to DIG DEEP and really give 100%, you also know when you're not. Watch the pros in long course triathlon- the last couple miles of that marathon they are running as hard as they freaking can (seriously it looks like 5K effort at the end of an 8-9 hour day) and they are fit enough that it is indeed HARD. But watch the amateurs as well and they are also giving everything they have- they just don't have a well that's as deep to dig into. It's a different kind of hurt for longcourse vs short effort racing for sure.

    That said, I'm going to go jog a marathon this weekend and I'll tell you right now I am not going to give that race 100%. :)

  2. I am not sure whether I understand what you mean but if I do you are just proving my point. A lot of people claim that they are giving the best but I doubt that their perceived effort is the same as of a person that is truly giving its best. Like your comparison of a regular age-grouper and a pro. Let’s assume that looking like you are running a 5k at the end of ironman (whatever “looking” means since we cannot based this on pace/time) means giving your all. Pros give their all because they look like they are running their 5k effort but many age groupers do not look like they are running their 5k effort. Right? Which means that they are not giving their best because if they did it would look like they are running their perspective 5k efforts. And therefore I believe that almost everyone who claims they were giving their all were not. They just thought they were because it hurt a little bit (or little bit more):)

    Also. When a long-course athlete (ironman athlete) does a short-course (5k for example) she probably never gives her all because the hurt is completely different and she has no experience with “short” hurt thus everytime she goes faster than the speed she goes in long-course it hurts and she starts thinking that now is the point I gave it all although it is not true because she compared this pain with what she experience in long-course.

    PS: Now I have totally proved what an ass I am, quarreling about something I have no idea about. I should really work in consulting. Talking about things I know nothing of but throw in a bunch of examples, graphs, figures and voila, clients are convinced and I cash a nice pile of money.

  3. I just wrote a blog post about this, or at least I tried to but you said it better:) I agree--I think it's really rare that anybody actually gives 100%. I ran a marathon recently and *thought* I was giving it 100% during the race, but then my time ended up being one second below my goal. I'm sure I just subconsciously figured out that I didn't have to give any more effort than that, and my brain convinced me that that effort was 100%.

    Maybe part of the problem is that most people race too much? I don't know about triathlon but the marathon pros have what, maybe one or two goal races a year? But most of us are racing 10+ times a year. There's just no way you can give 100% that often--you'd destroy your body if you did. I had a coach for a season and one of his main pieces of advice was to only race twice a year...

    Also, maybe another part of the reason is that it's a real skill to be able to give 100%, something you have to practice and train for. I remember reading an analysis of why Paula Radcliffe's marathon record hadn't been broken and it was saying that it's rare to have someone willing to hurt that much.

    Okay, I'll stop waffling now:)

  4. Exactly! You have to learn how to give 100%.
    I think that I will start practicing it next year, getting out of my comfort zone in training. Should be fun:)