Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Beginners Guide to Post Race Chit-Chat

So you just finished your race.  You are drinking some sort of milky substance that someone handed you and even though it tastes slightly chalky, you can't seem to stop drinking.  You have oranges stuck in your teeth and are busy looking for the rest of the cookie you just dropped on the ground.  At this point someone engages you in post-race chit chat.

Typically the "chit" is started with the phrase, "How did you do?"

The post race chit-chat novice at this point will answer the question using the long answer format.  It will include a play-by-play starting with things that occurred in the past three months that contributed to a lower than expected result.  If the performance was very very very good (winner, top AG) then the person will still share how their performance didn't match up.  However, it typically will end with some sort of self-deprecation and goal setting.  For example, "...nothing compared to the pros at Kona but I know know I need to spend way more time on my bike."

Here is the main problem with the conversation that just happened...the person who initiated the chit did not want to hear much about your race, they wanted to chat about theirs.  The diatribe by the novice while very satifying for the novice did not provide any satisfaction for the person asking the question.

What the person initiating the "chit" really meant was, "Could you look at me intently so I can tell you about my race?"  They are looking for a very quick "chat" so they can "chat".  They want to hear, "I did okay, how did you do?"

I'm no expert in science but I do know there is a problem when two objects try to occupy the same space.  Communication problems also happen when two people attempt to talk at the same time.  Post race communication (chit-chat) is doomed because both people want to chat (drone) about their race.  

I know there are some of you out there that prefer to keep things to yourself.  Most likely you don't have a blog nor wish to blog your results.  You want to sit quietly in the back and wait for your name to be announced so you can quietly walk past the gasping people to claim your basket of bread and books.  You want to make a statement just as much as the rest of us, but would prefer to make it visually.

But for the rest of you that communicate, here are a couple of suggestions for how to engage in chit-chat.

1.  Show restraint by answering in one amazing sentence - One sentence that answers the question and transitions to..and you?  The best sentence is one that engages the other person to forget their chat and want to hear yours.  good lines are "Race went as I expected except I didn't think I would pass Lance Armstrong, how was yours?
2.  Ask a follow-up question before assuming the "chat".  The purpose of this question is to appear to engage in what they are saying. .  "Sounds like you were really focused, did you happen to see the belly dancers at mile 7?"
3.  Dominate the chat - You've demonstrated that you are perceptive, notice things they don't and won't monopolize the next hour of their time.  They trust you...NOW you have an audience.
4.  Develop an exit strategy -  If they don't seem to quit "chatting"  you can encourage them to talk tothe guy sitting at the back table looking aloof.   "See that guy over there...he mentioned earlier that he really wants to learn more about racing but is afraid of looking stupid.  I bet he'd learn a lot from your race experience"

Best of luck navigating the tricky post-race chit-chat.  And...your welcome.


  1. Hmmm for some reason only half the post can be seen. I tried reloading but still same.