October 29, 2019

Stop Looking At The Scoreboard

Ben Pulham

A lot of athletes, especially at this time of year, begin to fixate on their race timing. I get several panicked emails per week, asking me what time I think they can achieve in their upcoming race.

They’re missing the point.

Race timings and placings take care of themselves, so there’s no point wasting mental and emotional energy worrying about them.

Worrying about a finishing time is like standing on the soccer pitch and looking at the scoreboard. You may hope that your score is higher than the other team, but, likely, it won’t be at the end of the game because you’re focused on the wrong thing.

Instead of the score, you must focus on the process.

Sign up for Coached running or triathlon programmes.

If you train correctly, do your strength and mobility exercises, eat clean, get 8-hours of sleep per night and then execute the race with self-control, you’ll achieve the best possible timing given your starting fitness and the length of time you had to prepare.

This is a simple lesson, but it’s one of the best lessons I ever learned as an athlete, and it transformed my racing career. When I released my attachment to the outcome, my performances improved, and I was free to enjoy the experience of training each day.

As a coach, I notice that it’s always the process-focused athletes that are maximising their potential. They perform better, enjoy their training more and typically suffer less injury because they’re not taking shortcuts to achieve an arbitrary time that may or may not be reasonable.

With some of the most important races of the year on the horizon, I encourage you to stop looking at the scoreboard. It’s your actions, not your hopes and desires that will determine your result.

Photo: Zoe Tan

Head CoachBen PulhamBen Pulham is the founder of Coached, a personal training programme that helps runners & triathletes optimise, track and enjoy their training.