By Frank Horwill
If you've put in a below- average performance in a race these 20 questions could help you find out why.
1. Were you rested enough 48 hours before the race?
2. Were you travel-weary on the day?
3. Did your last meal before the race have enough time to be digested?
4. Did your last meal before the race contain gaseous food - egg, for instance?
5. Did you have your usual warm-up?
6. Did you have a race plan? Was this carried out as planned? If not, why not?
7. Did you taper for this race?
8. If the race was in excess of 10km, did you take in extra carbohydrate for the past 72 hours?
9. If the race was in excess of 10 miles and the temperature above 70 degrees F, did you take on board adequate fluid replacement?
10. Did you feel tired as you lined up for this race in spite of 48 hours rest? To what did you attribute this tiredness?
11. Have you suffered recently from pins-and-needles in the feet and hands, or numbness in the feet? If so, you should have a comprehensive blood test for iron and magnesium deficiency.
12. Have you suffered from frequent infections during the past six weeks? If so, you may have a zinc deficiency in your diet.
13. Did you practise visualisation for this race? This involves being alone in a state of quietness, and first, watching yourself running in the race, then second, being IN the race and actually taking in everything involved, such as crowd noise, sound of running feet, and carrying out your plan.
14. What was your mental state before this race? Being nervous is a natural reaction to being tested, both physically and mentally. Was your nervousness excessive? If so, did you try to think positively by telling yourself what your race plan was and firmly establishing in your mind how you were going to carry it out?
15. Did you feel before this race that your training was adequate both in quantity and quality? If not, what facet of it do you think was lacking? If you had some misgivings, and if coached, did you express your doubts to your coach? If not, why not?
16. Do you think your coach understands the needs of your event? Do you think he or she understands your capabilities and goals?
17. Are you over-trained or under-trained?
18. Have you in your own mind a clear idea of what is required in training for your event? Do you know the physiological breakdown of your event - in other words, what is aerobic and what is anaerobic, what aerobic training involves and what anaerobic?
19. Are you over-stressed in your non-athletics life? You may work full-time - do you consider this a hindrance to your athletics progress? If so, is it possible for you to become a full-time athlete or a half-time worker?
20. If you feel over-stressed other than by a full- time job, can you pinpoint stresses and take active steps to reduce them?
Most athletes have a bee in their bonnet about some aspect of their preparation - it may be more speed, more mileage, or even less of both. Have you such a bee in your own bonnet? If so, have you discussed it with your coach?