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Lap Times and Race Wins are Lagging Measures of Success

Greg Troester February 3, 2023 0 comments

Take Racing One Corner at a Time

You want to set faster lap times than your competitors in practice. You want to out-qualify them to get the pole position. You want to take the top step of the podium.

So what should you focus on?

The next corner.

Whether you’re on-pace to set a fast lap or you just bungled the last turn and lost a half-second, get your eyes up and focus on what’s next. 

How many times have you made a second mistake, then a third, and even a fourth before you got out of the trap of reliving the past and kicking yourself for your performance?

How many times have you choked because your predictive lap timer told you that if you didn’t make any mistakes and just drove the same way you always have, that you’d set a new personal best? Or even get on-pole? Or that you’d catch the pack ahead the next lap? Or that your competition would be left far behind?

I know that I have. I remember one qualifying session where I was clocking in over a full second faster than my best lap all day — and if I crossed the finish line without screwing up, I’d be on the pole for the first time in a long time.

I choked. I turned-in too early into a corner that was rarely a challenge for me — certainly not difficult to take at a decent pace, especially given the gap I would have ahead of the current pole-sitter.

But I got ahead of myself, imagining that pole position was just within grasp and that I just needed to survive the last three corners — and so I screwed up.

So if you nail a corner, or even a lap, then focus ahead and do it again, because the race isn’t over until you cross the finish line.

So if you screw up, have a short-term memory and focus ahead, because you can still drive the next corner well, and the one after that. You can give yourself a fighting chance.

If you’re doing better than you ever have before, enjoy it and don’t be distraught when you dip below peak performance.

If you’re struggling, embrace the suck and ignore what your overall result will be — just focus on the next corner and drive it as well as you can.

It’s easy to forget that the result you desire is accomplished by the accumulation of many small steps executed fairly well. You’re never going to be perfect, even at your best — so don’t expect yourself to be.

Just drive, because the longer the race, the more chances you get to do things right. And if the race is short, at least your pain can be short-lived.

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