Sara Hall has had a rough season. In the four or five races I've seen her run she's struggled in the middle and finished well behind many of her competition. Most runners go through these experiences at some point or another, when the workouts are good but the results just aren't matching them. You can see the same thing with Alan Webb right now.
In an Olympic year, when expectations are highest and lifelong dreams are on the line, it's even more difficult to handle these struggles. Especially on an emotional level. So I was interested to read how Sara is coping by going back to the last time she struggled before an opportunity to realize a lifelong dream: her senior year before winning the Footlocker National Championship.
As Sara writes here, prior to the State Championships and the Footlocker Nationals, she wasn't even winning her local races. (Of course, it didn't help to have one of the best runners in the country, Amber Trotter, in her area...) As Sara writes, though, she focused on improving and on winning those two races exclusively. She says:
"I don't think I was the most physically prepared person on either day, but I showed up confident that it was possible, having visualized myself doing it all season, and brought my A-game."
Now she's trying to take the same approach to the Olympic Trials. This struck me for two reasons. First, she's actively choosing to focus on how she performed 8 years ago instead of 8 weeks ago. And she's right to do so. When you are struggling to perform, the best thing to do is focus on a time when you overcame adversity, even if it was in the distant past. Heck, even if it was in a different aspect of your life! Call it the "Transmutable Property of Self-Efficacy": It doesn't matter where or how you overcame adversity in the past, the experience can help you overcome adversity today. (For more on self-efficacy, read here and here)
Second, Sara may very well be a dangerous person to have in that race. Others will almost certainly write her off a little based on her recent performances. They'll doubt her strength, both physical and mental. But with her past experiences to draw from, she may be just as ready mentally as anyone in the field. So if she's made up some ground physically, she could be ready to surprise some people.
I guess we'll see in a couple weeks.