Craig Lutz On How To Remain Calm When Leading Races

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Craig Lutz, who recently announced his retirement after competing for Hoka One One as an NAZ Elite athlete, explained previously to FloTrack when you should lead a race, the best time to do so, and when to go for the win. See what he has to say about leading the race below. 

Example Of Taking The Lead 

"At some point in time in every athlete's career, they're going to have to take the lead in some sort of race. Now for the 10K, that's obviously a feat in itself because depending on where you take the lead it could potentially be for a really long time. An example from my past -- and kind of the mentally you have to have behind it when you take the lead for a long period of time -- would be the 2015 Big 12 outdoor meet this past year in Ames, Iowa. I took the lead from the gun and I held it for 24 laps, and so some of the things that go through my mind about having to lead that long of a 10K are obviously kind of individual thoughts."

Processing Your Thoughts

"I thought to kind of think about how's my body feeling, I have to think about, 'Am I on pace? Am I going to be able to keep going on pace having the amount of effort that it's taking to keep going?' In that race, I had somebody behind me for most of the race, so I had to process how are they feeling every time that I made a surge, am I putting a step on them or are they still right there, and as we started getting closer to the finish line I had to start thinking, 'What am I going to do to cover the kick that the person was behind me, am I strong enough to go for maybe 600m out maybe a mile out?' Try to keep bringing that pace down."

Body Over Mind

"It's a lot of thought that goes through the mind, it's a lot of cues that you have to take in terms of what's going on around you and what's going on in your own mind, and you have to put all of that together but you have to obviously try to keep it fluid because you don't want to start hampering yourself with negativity, and you don't want to start worrying, period, because that is just a lot of extra effort a lot of energy going in to something that you can't control. I can't control how other people are in the race; I can only think about what am I going to be able to do in response to what they can do."

Have Confidence

"With that, you just want to make sure as an athlete that any sort of move that you are making you need to have that confidence back and you need to know that you are good enough to do it, and that once you do it you have to stick with it. You can't lose the energy of making these moves and falling back when you realize that maybe that wasn't the right time because that lack of confidence in yourself is going to hamper yourself somewhere else in the race."