There are those times that we raise our expectations and then realise we perhaps don’t have quite the ability to get our outcome and we then know what we need to do, learn or work on to achieve that outcome. Well what happens when it works the other way round?
I was racing the other day when my brain was telling me what I was capable of and the minutes per mile I 'should' be running. Training had been going well and I was going to feel happy to keep an even pace throughout the 10 miles. Well one mile in and I’m feeling good and check the time and I’m nearly a minute quicker than I was planning. ‘Oh dear – I’d better slow down or I’ll never last!’ So slow down I did, or so I thought and the next mile was a few seconds quicker than the first. I felt fine and yet over the next 3 miles I continually told myself to slow down and that I would never last the distance, and yet I stayed within a couple of seconds of the time I had run the first mile. I was supposed to be doing the first half slowly and seeing what I had left for the next couple of miles before upping the pace for the last couple.
But ability had other ideas and decided it didn’t care what expectation thought - it was going to run as it felt – not following a timetable and I decided a change of plan was needed and I would reverse what I was going to do and run the first half quicker and then I could slow up in the second half and still hit my expectations…..Ability had a good giggle at this and continued to run as it felt. At around mile 6 I decided it would be more helpful to stop arguing between expectation and ability – I could put the energy I was using up to much better use!
And so I continued on and enjoyed the fact that I was running better than I expected and congratulated myself on an excellent training plan for this year as taking it slowly and building back up from injury was most definitely working. I crossed the line 10 minutes quicker than expected.
One Nil to Ability!
A few days later was the first cross country race of the season and having run all three days from the race above to this one I was looking to run evenly and easily – and obviously expectation was putting some limits in - did my legs still feel heavy from the previous race? Had I recovered enough? Should I have run each day since…...? Luckily for me ability had an ally in that my friend Becs was running alongside (normally much faster and had done 20 miles the day before in preparation for the New York Marathon) and kept me going all the way round and I finished again much quicker than I expected especially for a cross country. So the stamina is there to keep going even on tired heavy legs and we even had enough for a sprint finish!!
Two Nil to Ability…..
My question now is how often do we let expectation talk ability out of performing and what would we achieve if we gave ability a free reign?
First published in October 2010