After a 51 minutes – 2 minutes hard; 1 minute easy – fartlek, the previous week, I happened to have been in the pack that managed to finish in the lead. And as we walked slowly waiting for others to arrive jogging, someone pointed at an athlete just arriving almost two minutes later and said, “that is Wilson Kipsang arriving!”
Well, it ended up being another Wilson Kipsang with a personal best time of 2:05 in marathon,not the one with 2:03. But, all in all, it kept me thinking. Are the athletes who often run faster in workouts necessarily the ones who do well in races?
After observing most of the athletes from my training group at a local meeting recently, I noticed that the results were so different from what would have been expected from watching them in training and made the following observations.
1. Training is a group work with pre-set times and programs.
Unlike in a race, most of what happens in training is controlled. In training, someone complains when the pace is increased and the rest of the group slows down to make sure the group remains together throughout the workout. Perhaps, some athletes take advantage of these non-competitive workouts to try and impress others.
2. One doesn’t taper before the next workout.
In training, one moves on to the next day with sore muscles from the previous day. Some times it may take the first three kilometers for the legs to feel ready for the following day’s workout, depending on what one had done the previous day. Well, some athletes preserve their energy for the next tough workout.
3. Tension can be either useful or destructive in a race.
A race needs enough experience and a lot of mental calculations. The tension can cause more adrenaline pumping in an athlete’s blood and often some athletes can record their personal best times in the first 1,000m of a 10,000m race before dropping out. Some athletes get used to some workouts, but take time to get used to race environments.
4. Workouts have specific reasons. A race combines all the benefits from different workouts.
An athlete who runs well in a race is one who has done every part of their training well; track intervals, hill workouts, cross training exercises, long runs and tempo runs, among others.
In conclusion, next time you beat Dennis Kimetto, David Rudisha, Laura Muir, Vivian Cheruiyot, or any other great athlete in training, do not be too quick to celebrate!