Could have doesn’t count

250px ApoloOhno Could have doesnt count

Apolo Ohno is a stud, but can he do a 1:30 half?

Last week RunCompetitor magazine tweeted that speedskater Apolo Ohno had just completed a 1/2 marathon in 1:40:59 (can’t remember which one). They included a quote from his coach saying he could have gone “1:30 or better.” Well, I couldn’t help myself–I responded “then why didn’t he?”

Call me a #$%^ if you want to, but one of my pet peeves is when someone runs one time only to immediately declare “I could have run XX time.” Really? Because I’ve got to think that if you could have done that much better, you would have.

I can understand saying “I was in shape for XX time but didn’t run the right race.” That I get–believe me, I’ve been there. But let’s not claim–as Ohno’s coach did–that you could have run almost 11 minutes faster at a 1/2 marathon but just didn’t. That’s a bunch of bunk.

Another favorite of mine is someone who’s never run a marathon but claims they are certain they can run a particular time. Until you demonstrate that, well, your claims mean nothing.  So keep a lid on it!

And thus concludes my little rant of the day! What are your thoughts on the “I could have done X” syndrome?



Related Posts:


  1. If I check Athlinks for results for Anton Ohno I will find a 1:40:59. It doesn’t say next to it that he could have gone 1:30 it says 1:40:59 so guess what he CAN do: 1:40:59.

    Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda but DIDN’T.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Analyzing Race ResultsMy Profile

  2. Sounds to me like a coach is trying to justify why his athlete did not hit the goal time. Guessing the conversations went a little something like this:


    Coach: “Based on the training I planned you are going to run a 1:30 half.”
    Apolo: “Awesome, this is why I paid top $$$ for you Coach!”


    Apolo: “You said I was going to go 1:30, why was I 11 mins slower than that?”
    Coach: “Well, you could have gone 1:30 or better …”
    Jeff recently posted..Catching Up and Moving ForwardMy Profile

  3. He could have run almost a full minute per mile faster? I completely agree with you. He probably ran his a** off to get to 1:40:59. Such bull. By the way, it was the Chicago half marathon. Why do sports athletes believe that if they are good in one sport then automatically are good in any sport?
    Jeff recently posted..How long would you go?My Profile

  4. I can see two instances where I think the comment is ok: the racer was overly cautious and left a lot in the tank, and if the race was a training run and the racer wants to assure others he/she’s not injured or something. Still, I’m a little surprised that an Olympic athlete in a cardio-leg-related sport wouldn’t be more of a 1:20 finisher. Maybe this running stuff is hard, and those of us who do it (regardless of pace) are pretty amazing athletes ourselves.

  5. Funny to see this bc the post I’m writing now talks about wondering how much faster I could be IF I put in the effort. But to paraphrase Yoda, do or do not, there is no could’ve.
    Kate recently posted..How to lose a customerMy Profile

  6. Yep I am with you on this one. I accept something like I think I could have done better…you know when you finish and the tank is not empty or you made mistakes in the race and you paid the price…(I did that many times) but in this comes off a bit..hmmm pretentious..
    caroline recently posted..Pêle-MêleMy Profile

  7. I agree–it’s a pet peeve of mine when people tell me they “could” run a certain distance or pace. I had a friend (who regularly runs 3 miles) tell me that since he runs 9 minute miles, he “could” run a sub-4 marathon, despite never having run more than 3 miles in a day. Ok buddy!
    Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner recently posted..I Should Just Quit Blogging Now…My Profile

  8. I think I learned “could’ve done xxx time” in Excuse 101.
    Lisa recently posted..I want to leave this world exhaustedMy Profile

  9. Yeah, I am also in the Yoda camp. Honestly, even if you’re using it as a training run I do NOT want to hear about what you ‘could have’ done. You did what you did and that’s that. Why rationalize or justify or whatever? Marginalizing or trivializing the competition is such bad form…and that’s what that does. Funny how it never is ‘Yeah…i ran a 1:40, but I could’ve done a 2:05 if hadn’t really pushed myself. And if I had blown my wad early on I could’ve even had a DNF!’ Why speculate? Anything can happen on race day and you just need to accept that.
    XLMIC recently posted..Why today doesn’t suck…My Profile

  10. I am with you, if he could have, why didn’t he?
    Christy recently posted..Gearing Up!My Profile

  11. LOL! I couldn’t agree more. Not that I’m a marathoner or anything but my hubby gets SO mad because when he’ll run a 7:12 min mile, his cousin will “claim” that he “can” do it much faster…and my hubby says, “really? THen let’s see it” and surprisingly, he’s always too busy to show us his 7:12′s!!! hahahaha! SO TRUE :)
    marissa recently posted..a treat worth sharing!My Profile

  12. Amen sistah!!!!
    Amanda – RunToTheFinish recently posted..A little quiet, a little runMy Profile

  13. Hi, got here from SUAR. I’m with you, the clock doesn’t lie. I laugh when people tell me they could “do” ironman, or a marathon, or a whatever in such and such a time. That’s just such bull. I think it was Will Rogers said “It ain’t bragging if you done it.”
    Keith recently posted..I took TWO for team SUARMy Profile

  14. Ohno? I’m sure he could easily run a 1:30 half. He’s got incredible athletic ability. If it was his first half he might have just been unsure how to pace, or he was just running for fun. If he’s said it himself I might roll my eyes, but since it came from his coach it probably just means that his coach knows his client’s conditioning and is surprised he didn’t go for a 1:30.
    Gracie (complicated day) recently posted..Did you get your flu shot?My Profile

  15. coulda, shoulda, woulda…was a bear. (lame!)

  16. YES! I get so sick of people going on and on about how they could have been faster. I’ve definitely finished a race and said I didn’t give it everything I had, but I’ve never assumed that equalled a specific time.
    Sarah S recently posted..A Little Slice of Awesome…in my mailbox!My Profile

  17. Ha! I don’t doubt that he’s capable of a sub 1:30 with the right training, but until I see the results….
    Jesse N. recently posted..Lost Soul Ultra 100 – The Physical ChallengeMy Profile

  18. Hmmm. I’m not sure what I think. I need more information from the coach. Does Apollo have an event soon and the coach wanted him to take it easy? Is he coming off of an injury?

    I have a half marathon next month, and my goal is to run it at a 9-minute mile pace. Will I be able to do it faster? Possibly. But I think it would be wise for me to take it easy out there, so I’m not sure that I will even if I feel like I can.

  19. One thing about the quote is that it’s is coach saying that. His coach probably knows his potential, but at this point in his NYC marathon training, an all-out half marathon wouldn’t have been a wise decision.
    David H. recently posted..One run closer to BaltimoreMy Profile

  20. Yep…I agree. I always have certain goals/expectations for races that I go over with my coach. It is either a training run or an all out race – If I don’t make the goal, it is my fault but I wouldn’t be dumb enough to ever think I could have been over 10minutes outside a goal..
    Laura recently posted..Four for Friday – the wicked editionMy Profile

  21. Completely agree with you. What a ridiculous thing to say when you ran one time, to claim you could have run another. Right!

  22. Why can’t he just be happy with his time? For real. A half marathon is a half marathon no matter your time! It’s an accomplishment most people won’t even ever attempt! Shoot! That’s dumb. Yeah, if you trained it to try to hit XX time, but didn’t make it, say so. But don’t say you could have done better because that makes you look like you didn’t take it seriously.
    S Club Mama recently posted..metamorphooMy Profile

  23. I totally agree! Why is it SOOOOOOO hard to just admit your fitness is where it is??? Why does it always need to an “if….” Another pet peeve that just happened today…the weekly, “This race is going to suck because this week….” Ahhhhhh, just run!!
    Sorry for the rant but this struck a cord!
    Hope you’re doing better!

  24. Definitely agree – woulda, shoulda, coulda …. but DID.NOT.GET.IT.DONE!!!

  25. I coulda been a model (yeah right). I coulda been the first female prime minister (well I got the right bits). I coulda been a rock star (singing on tune’s not important is it?)

    But I don’t dwell on coulda’s – I just get on with my life. No gratuitous bragging.

  26. Funny that he got exactly 1:41, that is my first half marathon time too, haha I’m as fast as an Olympic gold medalist =)

    Interesting on his coach claiming that he could have gone 1:30 for the half marathon. That is a gigantic difference, we’re talking a full minute faster. Maybe this was his first one or something? Not sure if he paced wrong or something, but I bet he will improve on his next one.

    I could see him saying that he could have gone faster if the course had less hills or something, but not that he could have gone faster over the same course. Ie, if someone runs Big Sur Marathon, they could probably have a much faster time at Chicago or on a flatter course.
    Nelly recently posted..Football is back!My Profile

  27. Runblondie26 says:

    He could have run 1:30….but had to take a epic porto-pot break. Haha, that’s how I always finish phrases like that in my mind.

  28. I love it! You are so right. I hear this crap from people all the time!
    Michael recently posted..I Love Gimmicky RacesMy Profile

  29. I totally agree! What’s the point in saying that anyway? You just kind of look like a jackass. Like, “I chose to run slower because I can.” yeah right you did
    kari w/ running ricig recently posted..yes, that was my Friday night (and a winner!)My Profile

  30. I am with you on this one. I never know exactly what the day will hold and it’s funny but it usually works the opposite for me, when I think I am going be to slow is when I do my best running. Go figure.
    Jen recently posted..I’m Back!My Profile

  31. Great post, I agree.
    I think that the first time on the long distances we have only to run to finish. After the first experience we could say: “I am going to run a…… marathon (or half).
    Black Knight recently posted..The scheduled planMy Profile

  32. Thats what I like to call “sandbagging”.. Its VERY easy to say while sitting on a couch, 48 hours AFTER a race “wow, I could’ve run XXX time”.. Well then, why the hell didn’t you?? Right.
    Meaghan recently posted..Some Friday Fun..My Profile

  33. I agree with you totally. You can SAY you “could have” done something, but words don’t mean a whole lot with racing. Results and times do!
    Erin recently posted..New PR!My Profile

  34. With women running 1:11-1:12 range why are we talking about him?

  35. Ditto. Could have, should have. It is what it is. Great post!
    Irene recently posted..My GirlMy Profile

  36. I coulda qualified for Boston…

    If I had a bionic leg!
    Jamoosh recently posted..Medal of HonorMy Profile

  37. I agree with you on this.

    I think you have to run a certain distance first to set your personal time and then you can decide if you can run it faster the next time.

    I remember we had a Dutch speed skater who retired, that ran the marathon of Amsterdam last year in 3;14 (no idea if that’s a good time). But he wasn’t well prepared, hadn’t run more than 12 miles before that, he did finish the marathon but left the stadion in a wheel chair. What bothered me most about this was all the attention he got from the media while there were so many other runners who did prepare for this marathon and worked really hard for it.
    Guess who was at the start of my DNF half marathon in April …. right this guy and guess who got the most attention again ….
    Fran recently posted..A day in my life: Saturday September 17, 2011My Profile

  38. Before running a marathon, I would have put myself into the sub-5 hour range. I don’t know why, I just thought that time would be “normal” and I thought that if I trained, I would be “normal.” I ended up ding 6:25 on my first marathon and a sub-5 is crazy talk, even 5 years later. I hear this same thing from some faster people occasionally – that if you just TRAIN, you can get a time under 5 hours. REALLY? Says who? My time is not from lack of training. anyone making judgments from the sidelines gets on my nerves.

    I think maybe a better way to have phrased it would have been “Next time, he can do X”.
    Kim recently posted..Music Scenes!My Profile

  39. Oooooh! This is definitely one of my pet peeves! I’ve heard people say, “If I trained properly I could definitely run a XX:XX but I just don’t want to”. Umm, okay. Sure.

    Yes, anyone (for the most part) can train and run a marathon but no one should claim their race times before running the race. Grr. Why does that irritate me so?

  40. So well said. Let him show us he “could’ve done”.
    Joanne recently posted..Avocado Muffins with Ghirardelli Intense Dark ChocolateMy Profile

  41. Because I pink sparkle heat Apollo, whe. I heard this I heard this I figured it was a training run and perhaps he has hit that pace before. BUT you gotta keep that talk between you and your coach. Because what you DID was run a 1:40. Howevs, his coach said it, not him, so I still pink sparkle heart him! :0)
    That Pink Girl recently posted..Why Yes it IS Hotter ‘N HellMy Profile

  42. I am totally with you on this 100%. Drives me nuts when people tell me that kind of stuff. Like, “I could totally run a marathon in about 4 hours” but they haven’t even run 10 miles before. I am with you – whenever people say “I coulda” I think WHY DIDN’T YOU THEN?
    Mandy recently posted..Eagle Rock HikeMy Profile

  43. What about people who say things like “I could have stuck to my race plan…”? Oh, wait, that was me not sticking to a race plan. And the answer would be the same: “Well, why didn’t you then?” :^)
    Terzah recently posted..Race Report: Top of Utah MarathonMy Profile

  44. Totally agree!
    I have to bite my tongue when people say things like that.
    Felice recently posted..Busted by Thomas the Tank Engine.My Profile

  45. coulda woulda shoulda. I let me feet do the talking. If I think I could have done better, I keep that to myself until I do it.
    Sarah recently heart’s aflameMy Profile

Speak Your Mind


Current ye@r *

CommentLuv badge