It’s the Process not the Outcome

  |   Coaching, Endurance, Nutrition, Psychology, Racing, Training

Last weekends leg of the Aviva Diamond League Grand Prix Series in London saw the final chance for a competitive outing for most athletes, and a chance for an always welcome confidence boost ahead of this years Olympic games.

Despite the torrid conditions, there was some fantastic racing on show. Team GB came good with some great efforts from Christine Ohuruogu, Goldie Sayers, Mo Farah and Perri Shakes-Drayton, who all picked up Gold, whilst Australia’s Sally Pearson (who hadn’t been beaten in over 30 races at the 100m hurdles) was finally beaten by USA’s Kellie Wells in a nail-biting final of the womens hurdles, sending a huge message to her competitors ahead of the big show in a couple of weeks. So whilst London produced some predictable weather, the athletes were producing some far from predictable results.

Watching the post-race interviews with all the medal winners, it was interesting to hear how, almost unanimously, they all described their training and their racing in terms of focussing on the process they’d gone through to end up with a medal, rather than on the outcome of winning the medal itself. This may not sound like much but is actually an extremely important distinction to be able to make both mentally and physically in terms of our training plans. Focussing purely on the outcome means that you either win or lose. You achieve the outcome you desired, or you didn’t. If you did, that’s great. So why did you win and how are you going to repeat it? Which bits could be improved for next time? If you didn’t win, what then? Obviously it will be very disappointing, but beyond this it doesn’t give you much room to analyse your performance, take away the positives that are there and make useful adjustments to your training ahead of your next race.

Some of our previous posts have discussed how here at Positive Kinetics, when training our athletes, we look to “control the controllable”. This basically means that we forget about things like weather, surface conditions and other competitors, which we have no control over, and instead we focus on the things we can control.  Things like how we train in the lead up to a race, what we do in that training, our race pacing, where/when to attack or race nutrition. By formulating an approach to the process of training up to a race, even if the end result is not a Gold medal, we can still analyse different parts of our race and find out what worked and what didn’t. That way we can pinpoint what we need to work on for the next race and discuss how to do it.

In her post-race interview, having just won the 400m final, Christine Ohuruogu talked about how she “put together a good race”. Whilst clearly happy to have won, rather than talking about the outcome of  winning a Gold medal, she discussed the process of racing. After noting that she’d had a good start she examined the middle section of the race saying “i knew i was going to run a good bend and come through strong at the end”. Knowing this allowed her to stay focussed and stick to her own race plan, despite some of her competitors coming out of the blocks at a blistering, and ultimately unsustainable pace. Only by having a training plan focussed on how to reach her goal, as opposed to what the goal was, could she do this. Turns out it works pretty well, as all those Gold medals testify!

No matter who we are, or what level we compete at, we can all examine the way we’re training and try to shift our focus to the process rather than the outcome. It’s a powerful, simple and zero-cost tool that can make a huge difference to your training and racing. Define your goals, then figure out what needs doing to get there and how. It can make your training more fun and continually motivating by giving consistent feedback on your training throughout your programme. If  you need some help, come  speak to us and we’ll help show you how. Who knows you may even be lucky enough to find that you’ve put together your perfect race sometime soon, and no matter what the outcome, you’ve still got to be happy with that!

Stay Positive.

Coach K