Everybody enjoys a successful race or training session. Sometimes these can be achieved after careful planning, yet there are other occasions when the performance has been entirely unexpected. The thrill of success is very rewarding, especially when it comes out of the blue, and this can motivate us to train harder in an attempt to achieve more.
It's not always possible to repeat these top performances on demand; even top distance runners have good and bad days and race performances. If struggling, you might seek advice from running experts but this could end up confusing you; one coach might tell you to increase your distances, while another might suggest more interval training. It can be difficult to know what to do for the best, especially given the wealth of information out there.
It may seem at times that you have more questions than answers. At others, it may seem you have more answers than questions. Pretty soon your head can be full of conflicting advice on how best you might improve. Sports psychologists might suggest that you are in a state of 'analysis — paralysis'.
Attention to detail in race preparation is clearly associated with the elite runner. However, the danger in over-analysing every single possible risk, benefit, tactic, counter tactic etc, is that you can actually stop competing.
You become too concerned with all these potential risks that you don't actually concentrate on 'doing-it.' The phrase 'the devil is in the detail,' can be counter-intuitive in running performance. It may be tempting to plan for every eventuality — believing that you can bring all aspects of the race and your performance under your control — but the reality is that this is impossible.
The KISS Approach
So how do you find direction when your mind seems unsure as to where to go? The locker-room 'keep it simple stupid' (the KISS approach) is a reminder that our sport is fundamentally a natural expression of movement. It is play and is meant to be fun.
Children understand the simplicity of play and don't need complicated rules to dictate its flow. As adults we easily lose our way by examining, analysing and trying to synthesise massive amounts of information in the hope that it will make us a better runner.
It almost seems paradoxical that an athlete can often improve by returning to simplicity or 'getting back to basics.' Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian and scientist, once wrote: 'We move from naive simplicity to profound simplicity.'
There is no denying that you should should use your running knowledge to help guide you on your path to improved performances, but emphasise the simplicity of it all. Have fun and stop worrying about details and the outcome and your return to form will soon follow.