Yeah, I know the Olympic Trials were over a month ago.
I know this post is now quite a bit less timely than it would have been had I posted it the week after the trials, like every other running coach/blogger did.
But I thought it would be good to be able to let some time pass and then reflect on the trials and what we as “not elite marathoners” can takeaway from watching the best runners in the USA duke it out on national television.
(Wouldn’t it be cute if the reason I’m doing this post now is that I had the foresight to leave time for reflection after the Olympic Trials instead of just now “getting to it”?)
At least I’m probably the only blogger/podcaster/coach still talking about the race from a month ago, so there’s that…
Lessons Learned from Watching the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon
In any event, if you were paying attention while watching the trials you should have learned a lot of lessons that you can apply to your races in the future.
- Heat is a Bitch: I’m about the last person in the world to succumb to the “It’s too hot to race hard what am I going to do?” philosophy. But let’s be real for a minute: the heat sucks it out of you. That Olympic Trials course had very little shade, the temperatures were climbing as the race wore on, and the pace was brutal! At some point our bodies can’t handle maximal exertion at the same time that serious cooling by way of sweating is needed to keep the body working the way it’s supposed to. And when that happens, the body shuts down. The heat affects all of us, but it affects each us all differently. The next time you show up at a race and it’s hotter/more humid than you would prefer, don’t waste your time and energy bitching and complaining, but please do understand that heat illness is a real thing that none of us is immune to.
- Make a Plan and Follow Through: (Cause that’s what Bryan Boytono’d do!) If you get that joke, I love you. If not, no worries. Seriously though, if there was one thing that made me sit up and take notice while watching this race unfold, it was the importance of having a plan and sticking with it. In the women’s race, Kellyn Taylor (who was one of my picks for punching a ticket to Rio) made a bold move early in the race to really push the pace. Sadly for Kellyn, the move DID NOT work out, and that bold move cost her a shot at a spot on the Olympic Team. A high risk, high reward play perhaps? A little later in the broadcast, someone had spoken with her coach who basically said that the move Kellyn made was not part of the plan. Instead, she was supposed to run more like Desi did, sitting back and making her move later in the race. Obviously there is no way of knowing what would have happened had she stuck to the plan, but the middle of a race (no matter the distance) is probably not the best time to go off script. Your best chance of success is to come up with a race plan BEFORE your race starts, and do everything you can to stick to it.
- A Lot Can Happen Over 26.2 Miles: At what point did it become apparent that Shalane was going to fade as hard as she did at the end of the marathon? At almost no point during the first 20 miles of the race did it look like she was in trouble at all. She was cruising, enjoying a run with her training buddy, and looking as strong as they come. And at some point, pretty sure it was around mile 22, she started looking human again. And by mile 24, she was hurting. Who knows how much longer she could have held on to 3rd before Kara would have caught her, but the moral of the story is that a marathon is hard work and it takes a lot out of you. As cliche as it might sound, this is the kind of race that really isn’t over until it’s over.
- These Guys and Gals are Amazing: I don’t know about you, but it blows my mind how easy these elite athlete’s make things look when they are competing. Both the men and the women are running at a pace faster than I can go for much more than a mile on my best day, and they are just throwing down mile after mile at that un-Godly pace. I will never be able to compete at that level, but it sure is inspiring none-the-less.
Looking back on this race after several weeks, it really is incredible what the elites were able to do at the Olympic Trials in less than ideal conditions.
And now that the excitement of the race has worn off, hopefully you’ll be able to take some of these lessons from the Olympic Trials, apply them to your running, and push yourself to new heights in 2016 and beyond!
What Was Your Biggest Takeaway from Watching the Trials?