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Making decision

You may not realise it but in any race you make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions.  Whilst each decision may seem small, cumulatively they’ll make or break your race.

Some examples of race decisions include:

Eat now or wait?

Run or walk this hill?

Push a bit harder to stay with this other runner or let them go?

Hurdle that gate (!) or stop and open it normally?

Navigate using my watch, gps or map?

Some of these decisions will be totally unexpected (“step on that dead sheep to cross the stream or get wet feet?” – I once had to make that decision in a split second!) but a lot of them you’ll be able to devise a plan for in advance. You can do this whilst sitting on your sofa and thinking about what could happen in the race. The experience you’ve gained from training, previous races and reccies will all feed into the plans you make. 

Premade routine decisions

The (brain) saver!

For some situations you might have A, B and C (or even more) plans – for example, when thinking about using lights for the overnight section of a race:

  • A: I plan to use the same battery for the entire night section (this should be based on previous experience that the battery for your head torch will last that long!);
  • B: If the battery dies, I’ve got a spare that I’ll put in on the first hill I am walking up after I realise I’ll need to change it;
  • C: If I can’t see to change the battery because of the dark I’ll use my emergency back up head torch so I can see to change the battery;
  • D: If my spare battery or main head torch fails, I’ll use my emergency head torch to run with and slow my pace until it gets light;
  • E: If my emergency head torch fails, I’ll stop, drink, eat and stay warm using my shelter until it gets light and then crack on.

Some situations will be more simple: As soon as I get to a hill that is longer than [5 minutes]/steeper than [x%] I’m going to stop running, walk and get my poles out. 

If you’ve thought these situations through in advance then you don’t actually have any decisions to make when you’re cold, wet and tired and your decision making capabilities are seriously compromised, you’re just implementing this strategy you’ve devised. This is much easier than trying to think about things for the first time! 

This process can not only help you make good decisions but it also saves a huge amount of mental energy which you can apply elsewhere in your goal to run the ultra. These may sound like small wins but cumulatively planning these things in advance and thinking through all the scenarios can make a huge difference to your race. You can stay mentally strong and focussed on achieving your goal and not waste your energy on decisions you could have made in advance. 

Oh, and the question I know you’re all asking, from my experience, dead sheep don’t make good stepping stones! 

Look at your course map and profile and think about your pre-made routine decisions. Print off our handy PDF form to create your own list.

Download PDF

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