Champions Bring Extra To Race Day

Photo:  How Lao

Photo: How Lao

What separates champions from also-rans on race day?

Is it their training? Their diet? The workouts they do? The amount of sleep they get? The clothes they wear? Where they live? Training camps?

There are as many theories as there are questions, but only one correct answer. On race day, champions bring Extra. 

What exactly is Extra? They elevate their race day performance beyond the level of their fitness, the expectations of the their training, and the field against which they compete. Champions rise to the occasion and go beyond. They show up 10% better to the start line because their toil that day counts. They relish in the race day moment, excited for the opportunity to run towards another victory.

Winning is something that is never given, it is only earned. I used to be a champion, so I know. Kind of.

Long ago in high school I was a cross country and 3,000m champion at the city level. It was nothing special. But I still had to beat other boys my age to claim the right. My winning of races stopped there. I never won a state crown, nor won a single college race. During that dry spell I focused far too much on the wrong things and worrying about what didn't matter. I lost track of the importance of bringing Extra when it counted on race day. As a result, I floundered for many years and my competitive running career eventually ending in a whimper. A sad conclusion to what was once a promising future.

There is a narrative which exists that goes, "if-I-do-all-the-training-perfect-and-don't-get-hurt-ever-and-get-in-the-fast-heat-and-there-is-no-wind-and-I-feel-good-on-my-warm-up-then-I-can-win-this-race-today." This mindset is a thief. It robs many capable athletes of the opportunity to prove their championship merit. I long fell victim to it as have athletes I've coached. No one is immune — recent winners or even defending champions. 

No competitor is ever perfectly ready on race day. It is impossible. We're all imperfect humans and works in progress. But, on race day, the champion is ready to bring Extra once the starting gun fires.


Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm 


Jonathan Marcus