How to W.I.N. without coming 1st

The acronym W.I.N. stands for “What’s Important Now” and was originally coined by Lou Holtz an American football coach who related it to his players and their choices throughout the day. In a nutshell the concept is to focus 100% on what needs doing right now and not be distracted by other tasks. Naturally this philosophy can be applied to any walk of life but I’ve been exploring it more in terms of my running.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, once famously said it wasn’t the winning that was important it was the taking part. Might I suggest that a series of small timely wins can contribute to a better performance. This process won’t necessarily place you first on a podium but it will mean you’ll have made decisions which have had a direct impact on your run.

Live in the moment, decide in the moment and choose your winning strategy. I’m a happy plodder when it comes to running but with this mindset I now have a much clearer vision of where and how my plodding will take me. I’ve tried to outline my thought process below which hopefully will give you food for thought.

At the beginning of the year, due to an injury, I used this process to work my way up from walking slowly through jogging and onto running. The WIN decisions being walk a mile, walk it in a certain time, walk further, walk quicker etc etc

How often have you found yourself in one place physically and another place mentally or emotionally. All your day to day decisions have outcomes and consequences so priorities need setting, running can have the same pattern and this will ensure that all of your thoughts and actions are aligned.

Some “What’s Important Now” decisions start before you’ve even left the house like your kit choices on clothing and trainers, as well as the route you’ll be running, these create a clear image in your mind of what’s ahead.

Long distance running is physically, emotionally and mentally challenging, especially off road when decisions about the terrain, conditions underfoot and the best pacing option need combining with your usual hydration and nutrition choices.

So, regular and timely “WIN” decisions really can contribute to both a better experience and result.

Naturally you will be confronted with both easy and hard choices like shall I run this hill or walk it but making the decision immediately gives you a strategy. These choices can be on assessing what will benefit you now or in the long term so again referring to the hill it might be worth walking now to save energy for later.

Since I came across this “What’s Important Now” approach I’ve found I feel more confident and in control because I’m shaping the rest of my run rather than being on autopilot, as it were. This reassessing process has also added to my motivation and positivity because I’m happy I’m on the right track.

Questions like which line to run through a wet or uneven section ? Shall I try to maintain my pace, slow down or speed up depending on the trail, have I drunk enough, do I need a gel, the list can be endless and this “WIN” approach won’t necessarily give you all of the answers but it will make you asses your decisions in a calmer way i.e. you are taking a moment to pause and contemplate what’s best right now. You are applying a mindful mindset.

Finally, once you’ve finished your run you can start to contemplate what’s next in you training, a recovery run maybe, this way you are planning ahead to “What’s Important Next”.

Thanks for reading and maybe try this decision making tool on your next run.