One pet peeve I have when racing is I get quite tired of hearing all the excuses before the race from various competitors. Now I know I’m not totally immune to this sort of behavior and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this a time or two. I know lately I find myself using the age card excuse too much. However I do try to have the attitude that if I’m toeing the start line, I am ready to race to the best of my ability. I definitely do not need to go around spreading self doubt to other runners. I realize it is probably human nature to deflect some of the race day pressure by publicly announcing an array of excuses as to why your performance will not be your best. It probably starts as children by abdicating responsibility instead of accepting it. The excuses are verbalized so when the self-fulfilling prophecy occurs on race day, everyone already is prepared for his or her failure.

That being said I still believe it is best to keep all the sandbagging internal as it really deters from how others feel about their own race. There is nothing like having a great race and knowing your strongest rival has given you three or four excuses why they won’t be able to keep up with you. Win or lose it takes away from your own performance whether your opponent realizes this or not. The best thing to do pre-race is to try not to engage him or her in conversation or you will be trapped in a downward spiral of reduced expectations.

I’ve dealt with a myriad of sandbaggers at races and here are some of my favorite pre-race excuses:

  1. I have not done any speed workouts in months
  2. I just started back to speed workouts this past week
  3. I’m cross training more so my running has suffered
  4. My big goal race is actually next week
  5. My big goal race was last week, I doubt I’ve recovered
  6. I’m just training through this race and using it as a semi-hard workout
  7. I’m just here to “participate”
  8. I’ve been injured for weeks I hope I can make it
  9. I’m currently injured
  10. I feel like an injury is coming on so I may have to pull out
  11. I’m way over-trained and have tired legs
  12. I’m way under-trained and out of shape
  13. I wore the wrong shoes, I thought this was a trail race
  14. I’m not good at racing in hot weather
  15. I’m not good at racing in cold weather
  16. I did not have time to eat breakfast
  17. I was up all night and got no sleep
  18. I went on a pub crawl last night
  19. I forgot to take my “special” pill
  20. I’m doing doubles so I need to take it easy for my 2nd run later today
  21. I hope I remember what it feels like to race I have been out of it for so long
  22. I’ll try to hang with you for as long as I can. I’ll see you on the podium.
  23. I forgot my I-pod and I can’t race well without music
  24. My horoscope says today is not a good day for physical exercise

I’m sure many you can add some excuses you have heard to this list. So the next time you have some sort of self doubt pre-race, don’t spread it around like a virus at the start line. If you choose to pay the entrance fee to race, bring the effort not the excuses.