How the best runners re-plan their races

Tobias Schwarz / AFP

Let’s call this a major rewrite. After a great race, professional and amateur athletes are often faced with the same challenge: how to react when a race doesn’t go according to Plan A, B or C. it’s something that Ryan Hall know well. Twice Olympic athlete and the only American to run marathon In less than 2 hours 5 minutes, Hall had to strengthen his mental muscles as an athlete and now as a sprint coach – including with his wife, Sarah Hall, the second fastest marathon runner in American history.

After a great race, professional and amateur athletes are often faced with the same challenge: how to react when a race doesn’t go according to plan A, B or C.

This is something that Ryan Hall knows very well. A two-time Olympic athlete and the only American to run a marathon in under 2 hours and 5 minutes, Hall has had to strengthen his mental muscles as an athlete and now a runners coach — including with his wife, Sarah Hall. , who runs the second fastest. American History Marathon Runners.

“I’ve gone through this process throughout my career and I continue to develop it as a coach,” Ryan Hall said over the phone last week. “When your run is bad, you don’t want to talk about it to your friends or coworkers. But I’ve learned that, in fact, each of these conversations retells this narrative in my own mind and with others. opportunity to work.”

This may take some time. Hall named his tenth marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as one of the toughest disappointments of his career. He entered the race as a candidate for the podium and was completely defeated in the end. Today he can see that experience as a positive, he said, but it took him three years to get there after the race. “It’s a skill you have to learn,” he said.

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For some people, talking about a hopeless race can be an isolating experience, said Justin Ross, a clinical psychologist. He calls the grieving process the denial of rights. “We use the term when the loss of something is not understood by other people and we see it happening very often with amateur runners,” Ross said. “The marathon is so important to us that when it ends, people in general, our family and friends, they don’t understand. Why is he so difficult?”.

After this year’s Chicago Marathon and Boston Marathon—both races in hot weather, which slow athletes down—many runners were eager to rethink the way they thought about their runs.

All of them were halls too. After failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the US qualifiers last year, she has returned to focus on another big goal: setting a new American record. She ran the London Marathon – an elite-only event held last year on October 4 instead of her usual April date – and set a personal record, taking second place: 2:22:01. On December 20, she ran the Marathon Project in Chandler, Arizona, and finished it in 2:20:32, the second-fastest marathon run by an American woman.

She was less than a minute away from the American record – 2:19:36 – set by Deena Kastor at the London Marathon in 2004. And he targeted the 2021 Chicago Marathon with the record in mind.

A few days after finishing third in Chicago in a time of 2:27:19, she said, “It’s hard to imagine that things are going a certain way.” “I envisioned a great weather day, when I would be looking for first place to set an American record.”

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Unlike professional athletes in many sports, who have the opportunity to perform disappointingly almost weekly, many runners compete in less than a half-dozen races per year. At the Tokyo Olympics, some athletes cried openly when they were disappointed with the results of the race. Others were able to quickly reframe their narratives the moment they were posted on social media.

The word ‘disappointed’ doesn’t sound strong enough, wrote Scott Fauble on Instagram Monday after finishing 16th in the Boston Marathon. “I don’t think I need to stress this fact, so I’ll stick to a few good points. The crowd was incredible – you guys got me through the last 10 miles. My body feels more or less perfect. In the future There will be more races – more chances to live up to my expectations.”

“This race certainly wasn’t everything we were hoping for,” Reid Fisher posted after his ninth-place finish at the Chicago Marathon, “but it’s a huge step in the right direction and it proves that.” (at least to me) that I belong to this phase and this event.”

In the process, Ross said, professionals and amateurs are able to simultaneously generalize a sense of two things: sadness and gratitude.

“I think we have a really powerful distinction between outcome goals and performance standards,” Ross said. Outcome goals are usually timing or placement goals. Performance standards can have a lot to do with mindset.

“When it’s not a good day, we get lost and upset because we are able to recognize that the result is out of target reach. Hence the importance of creating performance standards. It’s not the result. It’s the way you handle things.”

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It’s a concept that Sarah Hall took to heart in the days following the Chicago Marathon. He tried to focus on the process, looking for small victories, and identifying the next target.

“There, you have to do everything you can to keep a positive mind, and I was positive all the time,” she said. “It was a victory in itself. I told myself I was still running. I focused on the quality of my pace and how grateful I was to be in the race.”

It won’t be a surprise to see him running well again. / RENATO PRELORENTZOU . translation of

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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