This evening I sat down like many athletics fans to watch Mo Farah go for his second double double in the men’s 5000m at the World Championships. I usually get butterflies before watching Mo race but tonight I felt worse. I felt nauseous and unwell as the field lined up. The feelings of unease continued and didn’t really settke as the race started.
Since his double win in London you just knew that Mo was going to become a marked man. Teams of athletes from around the globe including the dominant East African nations would be watching him, waiting to see what he did. They were ready to pounce on any moves he might make, talking to each other, possibly boxing him in to stop any tactical change in pace by the Olympic champion.
At one point early on in the race tonight one of the Kenyan athletes, I think it was Koech, tried to inject a bit of early pace and I immediately thought that this was how they were going to beat him: throw in some fast laps and run the finish out of him. A lot of the field seemed to panic and go with it. But not Mo. Mo sat back, unphased, doing his own thing. An Ethiopian athlete and South African athlete sat just behind Mo seemed to look at each other perplexed. Why wasn’t Mo Farah going with this injection of pace?
After less than 800m of the faster pace Koech seemed to realise that Mo wasn’t game for it and the pace slowed. And then all of a sudden Mo was at the front. The Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes, running as a team tried to respond, maybe trying to box him in, but every time they tried he drove forward again. He had an answer for everything they tried. They had no come back.
In the final lap I was worried that the athletes around might come back at him. But the hard work that he has done this year, such as fitting in sessions with his training partner Galen Rupp straight after winning the London Anniversary Games, just took him to another level above the pack trying to chase him down in the final straight. It was lesson in hard work and commitment. It was a lesson in running your own race.
The field tonight ended up dancing to Mo Farah’s tune. He didn’t panic, he didn’t get flustered and he stuck with his race plan. He didn’t worry about the form or the training of anyone else. He did what he had to do.
We may not think it but Mo’s race has lessons for even the most amateur of runners. Don’t worry about anyone else’s PB. Don’t worry about how many miles someone has told you they run every week. Care not that someone has run more races than you. On the day it’s all down to you. Run your own race and you will be rewarded for it. Lesson over.