When I was a junior in High School I raced Varsity for my first time. I remember one late summer afternoon I pulled up Strava statistics alongside the start list. I had spent more time on my bike, and ridden more miles then all of my competitors. I believed that at a minimum I’d place in the top 3, but I thought winning was possible.
What was the mistake here?
Well, there were a couple.
- I was defining my success by if I beat certain individuals.
- I assumed that more = better.
Let’s talk about the first:
When we decide if we had a good race based on if we beat a particular person, we call that being “ego-oriented.”
This image is pulled from my Sports Psychology class taught by Craig Manning. Here are the results of an ego-oriented mindset. At the end of the day, performance is inconsistent and short lasting. It’s a recipe for underperformance and frustrating results.
Back to that race, I was ego oriented. I had extreme goals, and I choked. I was rating my performance in relation to other people, not in relation to myself. I finished the race in 13th place way under performing and feeling terrible.
So what’s the alternative? Being task oriented. When you’re task oriented, you’re focused on having YOUR best performance. You’re not concerned about beating someone, you’re concerned about riding the course as quickly as possible.
So what happened after that first race?
After crying at the finish line and getting over myself I sought help. Ty Hopkins was a coach for the team at the time, and the following Monday we had a good conversation at practice. He told me that I needed to race the course, not the other people. That’s powerful. I’m going to say it again. Race the course, not the other people.
Think about that in life too. Live a good life, don’t try to live a better life than your neighbor. Good to think about.
So for the following race at Snow Basin I set time goals for myself. I was focusing and doing negative splits, meaning I’d be faster each lap. Ty helped me change my whole morning routine, the food I ate, my warm up, etc. Some of which hasn’t changed to this day. I was taught and gained the knowledge of the steps to success. I raced with a focus on racing the course, and what happened? The result took care of itself, as I found myself crossing the finish line in 3rd place.
Race the course, not other people. And let the result take care of itself.
At the end of the day, this is humility. The best in the world are always examples of this. The ones who stay at the best. The legends. The reason why is because they’re never concerned about being better than a particular person. They’re concerned about following the steps for success. The results will follow. Always.