Stop treating your ‘A-Races’ like ‘C-races’ (and start doing this instead)

In this episode my every now and then co-host Phil and I go a bit fringe and niche. We discuss something that I haven’t heard discussed enough —- The C Race!

For a real-world example – Let’s take my half marathon distance virtual DIY race (or whatever you want to call it).

I wanted to test my fitness, get a decent half marathon time under my belt for the year (to keep my annual half marathon streak going), and also gain fitness to run my best in an upcoming 5k time trial for the year. Very ambitious but also very doable.

The half marathon strategy of racing it like a c race was perfect because I wanted to maximise my aerobic gains, not burn myself out (staying aerobic help) and then slide into sub-threshold pacing to help get my lactic acid system ready for the demands of the 5k coming up.

What You’ll Learn

  • Phil discusses the article he wrote on this
  • how to not treat every race and hard work as a smash war fest
  • Phil’s mindset on C races and how it will help you race and live better
  • The beauty of thinking like a scientist and embracing failure
  • Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
  • and more!

Notable Quotables

  • “C Races are a cautionary tale to not get swept up in the competition of things. Just chill out and treat the training, testing and fun races as exactly what they should be.”
  • “Testing and having permission to fail is important. If you treat failure like a scientist then you want to fail. Failure gives you more data points to prove or disprove your hypothesis”
  • “When you don’t treat your c race as a low priority you might end up optimising for the wrong thing”
  • “People with a fixed mindset typically don’t enjoy losing. They don’t see failure as feedback.”

2 Lessons Learned



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Full Transcript Below (or download pdf here)

Daren: [00:00:04] If you’re a serious and committed endurance athlete like me, you’ve got your A-race, your B-race, and even C-races planned throughout the year. I just did a half marathon distance event that would sit between a hard, long run and time trial. It’s got a few names. Some would even call it a virtual race. I call it a Do It Yourself C-race. But how do you optimize a C-race in your training in everyday life? Find that out and more on this episode of DLake Creates.

[DLake theme]

Daren: [00:00:41] What is up? I’m Daren, your host of DLake Creates Running for Masters of Some.

Presenter: [00:00:45] The internet’s most exciting endurance sports podcast. 

Daren: [00:00:49] Through self-improvement, we help serious endurance athletes master some of the health, some of the fitness, and even some of the life because it’s all the same. And in being your host, you could trust me because I’m a lifelong endurance athlete that hass ran a sub-three-hour marathon, completed an Ironman triathlon in 10 hours, and currently trying to break 16 minutes in the 5K. So, I’d say I know a thing or two about most of the things that we talk about. 

Quick warning, we use some adult language and cuss a bit. Be mindful who is around when you listen. 


Daren: [00:01:23] In this episode, my every now and again cohost, Phil Cross, and I, go a bit fringe and niche. We discussed something that I haven’t heard discussed enough, the C-race. As mentioned, at the top of the episode, this is the race that when zoomed in, kind of doesn’t matter. You aren’t looking to get your best time here. But when zoomed out, it’s one very important piece in the jigsaw puzzle of training and life. You’re using the C-race as a tool or test to do well in your B and ultimately A-races. They are all connected.

[00:01:51] For a real-world example, let’s take my half marathon distance, virtual DIY race, or whatever you want to call it, that I just did. I wanted to test my fitness, get a decent half marathon time under my belt for the year to keep my annual half marathon streak going, and also gain fitness to run my best in an upcoming 5K time trial for the year. Very ambitious, but also very doable. The half marathon strategy of racing it like a C-race was perfect because I wanted to maximize my aerobic gains, not burn myself out, staying aerobic helps, and then slide into sub threshold pacing to help get my lactic acid system ready for the demands of the upcoming 5K race. Lots of moving parts, and again, lots of ambition here. But this race wasn’t the end-all be-all. It was part of a bigger picture. 

Again, it seems like the C-race is the answer for a lot of things, and not only training, racing, but also career and life. A few things that you will learn from this episode. Phil discusses the article he wrote on this whole topic, the C-race, how to not treat every race and training session as a smashing war fest, Phil’s mindset on C-races and how it will help you race and live better, the beauty of thinking like a scientist and embracing failure, fixed mindset versus growth mindset and much more. Enough of me, let’s get into the conversation with Phil.

Daren: [00:03:09] So, this is a-

Phil: [00:03:12] Blogisode.

Daren: [00:03:14] -episode.

Phil: [00:03:14] Blog post.

Daren: [00:03:14] Blogsodocasto, podisode, castisodo, Jesus. Yeah, we are doing something new. This might be the second or third iteration of it or 10th, I don’t know, where we talk about blog posts or articles, however you want to say it, that usually I wrote but this time we have Phil, because Phil writes, he’s a phenomenal blogger over at–

Phil: [00:03:45] philcross.net  

Daren: [00:03:47] This one is about your C-race. Not your C-race, it’s actually titled-

Phil: [00:03:53] C-races?

Daren: [00:03:53] -C-races. Very minimal, very you. And I’m going to say the first line and then you could talk about the rest. You could go to the actual post, which will be in the show notes, make sure you check that out. And there’s a cool illustration of a trophy that says number one. 

Phil: [00:04:13] That’s meant to be a horse. 

Daren: [00:04:16] What? 

Phil: [00:04:17] [laughs] 

Daren: [00:04:18] [unintelligible [00:04:18] don’t do that. There’s a trophy illustration that he drew himself because he is very gifted and talented. Don’t say anything. This is the start of it. “We run many races in our lives from short sprints to lengthy wars of attrition.” I want to keep going because it sounds so good. “Some are A-races, central to our mission, the big goals we set our sights on that we have given meaning to and are working diligently towards. Others are B- and C-races, done for practice testing or just a fun of it. It’s knowing the difference and racing accordingly, that’s key.” Yeah, I’ve read half the post because it’s really short but–

Phil: [00:04:55] And you nailed the voice in my head when I read to my own stuff back to myself, is that dramatic movie voice. It’s really good. That’s how I read to myself. 

Daren: [00:05:06] So, where did this come from? What were you talking about?

Phil: [00:05:09] It’s posh. It’s definitely true for actual physical races and the intention was it’s a metaphor for other things in life as well, as per the Master of Some.

Daren: [00:05:21] That’s what we are. We’re a better metaphor– [crosstalk] 

Phil: [00:05:22] I know.

Daren: [00:05:23] This served up as a better metaphor for life, it’s better metaphoric.

Phil: [00:05:27] I think I wrote this the day before I did the Jabulani Challenge in preparation for the UTA 100. Jabulani Challenge was a 44- or 47-kilometer trial run, or what have you. And like any kind of type A, alpha-ey person, I have a tendency, whenever I toe the start line of A-race, even if I meant to be taking it easy, I have a tendency to slip into racing it too hard mode, because I’m 12. 


It was a reminder that sometimes it’s good to treat the B and the C-races as the B and the C-races. You’ve got a big target that you’re setting your sights on. So, in this instance, it was the UTA 100. If we are using this as a thing, it could be that you’re working on a project, you’re putting together a TED talk, or you’re putting together a piece of music or a movie or whatever it might be. And then, the little thing along the way, the little thing that’s meant to help you on your way to your main mission, it’s running too hard at that and causing yourself physical and psychological burnout, stressing about the thing that should be either a fun diversion from your main goal, or it should be contributing towards you getting there by making you stronger and letting you practice skills or practice technique or get fitter. And yeah, it’s just a cautionary tale to not get swept up in the competition of things and just to chill out and treat the training, the testing, and the fun races for exactly what you intended them to be, and not the goal smash fest that they can turn into if you let your ego get in the way.

Daren: [00:07:21] Cool. I really, really like this word, and I really like that. You said, “There is inherent value in treating the ‘B’ and ‘C’ races for what they are. Testing and having permission to fail is important.” That’s huge because there was a James Clear– go check him on jamesclear.com. He’s habits guru that I quote a lot and a lot of stuff. But he talked about how if you treat failure like a scientist, basically you’re trying to fail almost in a lot of things because you get datapoints. The more datapoints you have, the closer or further away you get for your hypothesis, to proving or disproving your hypothesis, which is fucking awesome. Who was the guy that was flying the kite in the lightning? Who discovered electricity?

Phil: [00:08:06] Franklin?

Daren: [00:08:07] Yes, there you go. Everyone’s like, “Oh, he failed 10 thousand times before he got–” He figured out 10 thousand ways how not to get electricity. That’s actually extremely valuable, because again, you could actually tell someone even if you don’t get it, someone comes to you, you’re super experienced because you did the thing wrong, and you could go, “Even though I’ve done it, I’ve done it wrong. Don’t do that.” Then, you become valuable to that., because hopefully you don’t spend time, money, all those resources doing it the wrong way because you’ve done it. That’s huge value where you don’t actually have to go all the way to succeed. Usually, you end up figuring it out through persistence. Most things you’ll figure out, but some things, you’ve just got to say, “I failed a bunch.” That’s cool.

Phil: [00:08:50] Yeah. And you end up optimizing for the wrong kind of thing. So, say I wanted to test my nutrition at that race. It’s like, I just want to go, I’m testing nutrition for 100K race, this is a 47, 44 whatever it was K race. I could run it faster, but I’m going to run it slow. I’m going to run 100K race pace, and use it to test my nutrition and there’s ton of value in that. Whereas I would have gone into that race, tried to race it hard, not really accomplish that either, because I wasn’t going in super tapered and fit and ready to roll, and failed to test my nutrition properly. And then, what would I have had? A mediocre A-race, as opposed to a real solid testing race. So, again, it loses its value that you intended for it and it doesn’t even achieve the thing that you wanted it to. And then, if you’ve got a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset, listen to or read the work of Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset. Fascinating work, and definitely something everyone should hold in mind, no pun intended. 

People with a fixed mindset, typically the sort of people who don’t enjoy losing because they don’t see failure as feedback, can get really despondent and discouraged if they try and race these things and not achieve the standards they are used to. Yeah, lots of reasons to keep some delineation in your head when you’re looking at these races.

Daren: [00:10:24] There you have it. Go check out philcross.net. I’m actually probably going to do a repost on my site just because I love content that falls in alignment with my stuff and give this a backlink, give credit where it’s due, so I’ll hijack it but it will be wrapped with a Phi Cross brand all over it, future Daren or past Daren, take us away with the outro. Peace.


Daren: [00:11:19] Is the health and fitness internet too much sometimes? Too many conflicting articles and videos that confuse you on how to train and eat right? Or, you don’t have time to just read and watch everything about, I don’t know, the new trends on carb cycling for trail running? Don’t worry, we’ll take care of all that for you. 

Sign up for our free email newsletter Three Thing Thursday. We’ll put three perfectly curated and creative things in your inbox for better living and training. Go to dlakecreates.com/ttt. We do the hard, time-consuming work and scour the health and fitness internet’s deepest and darkest corners. This is so that every Thursday, you have a piping hot new email with the latest and coolest tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and skills, all so that you can train and live consistently to do dope shit in your next endurance event. Sign up now, you can receive my quick guide on how to get healthy, stay fit, and use data to create habits that last a lifetime. That’s dlakecreates.com/ttt, to be inspired and motivated on the regular.

Time. Time is a resource no one can make more of. So, we appreciate you taking precious time out of your day to listen this far. Our goal is to show the world how to live better through running, cycling, and triathlon. The episode and many others have a transcription, go to the show notes description to find out more. This was produced in Sydney, Australia, and I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation who are the traditional custodians of this land. I pay my respects to the elders, past, present, and future. I recognize the continuing connection to the land, waters, and culture. These lands were stolen and sovereignty was never ceded. If you liked this episode, again, we’d highly appreciate if you go on whatever app you listen to, and make sure to follow DLkae Creates Podcast. We’re on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Amazon, Acast, and a bunch of others. And if you feeling real loose, a rating, review, or share of this episode to anyone you know that would be into something like this would be amazing. The more people that hear about us, the dopest stuff we can do to then help other people. And if that virtuous cycle continues forever, we would always be grateful to you. 

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