A Different Way to Measure Race Performance

Running is one of the most objective sports that exists. Times and places do not lie. A 4:30 mile is better than a 4:40 mile and 1st place is better than 2nd place. The objectivity of running differs from other sports. In figure skating, human judges subjectively choose the best skater. There is, however, no running judge; instead, the race performance of runners is measured by the mechanical stop watch.

Because of this objectivity, running can be a difficult sport mentally because there is no one to blame but yourself. Skaters can blame biased judges, but there is no bias in a stopwatch.

Maybe this is why runners are so hard on themselves. The watch provides a clear verdict on a “fast race” or “slow race” and runners can clearly see if they place “high” or “low.” The knowledge that race performance will be unambiguous judged by place and time puts an enormous amount of pressure on runners before a race. This pressure can take the fun out of running and lead to burnout.

Instead of using the usual objective time and place measures of running, why not try to judge race performance on different parameters? Did I feel strong during the race? Did I refuse to back down when someone passed me? Did I feel relaxed and focused? Did I refuse to allow panic to overtake me when I felt bad during the race? And, most importantly, did I fun?

Using the above questions to measure race performance will give you a better idea if a race was actually “good.” Additionally, if the answers to all of the questions is “yes,” you can be pretty sure that your times and places will be excellent without even thinking about them.

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