Monday, 29 July 2013
I could have done better
One thing that I often hear, within sports and elsewhere in life, is people stating that "they could have done better".
Within running, for example, I've heard a lot of people declaring that they could have gone faster, if it was not for "this" or "that". I remember asking one guy at my previous workplace for his personal best on the half marathon. He answered "Ah, it's only 1:35, but I was good for finishing the distance in at least 1:25".
I know that even I have stated that I could have finished a race in less time than I actually did. But saying "I could have done better" is all a pile of bull crap. It's a logical (formal) fallacy (the "I could have done better fallacy"?).
For example, if you do a 10km race in 42 minutes and 15 seconds it is simply impossible to improve that given race by a single second. There is no way you could do the exact same race at the exact same time given the exact same limitations in 42:14. When something is done, it is done. And what is done can't be undone.
Your stamina might be the limiting factor one day, an injury another day, your mind the third day, a combination of several factors a fourth day, and so on.
In the example above, if you do a 10km race in 42:15, it might your mind that is the limiting factor. You might have told yourself, before the race, that you'll do the race as a training session instead of a proper competition. The week after you might do the same distance in 45 minutes due to a painful toe. And a few weeks later again you might complete another 10km race in 39 minutes, where everything feels right, your mind, your body, the weather etc.
So, there is no point saying "I could have done better". However, you might say "I should have done better", and work on eliminating the limiting factors that are under your control.