Here's the background. My athlete had a great track season. Had an even better summer of training. Has traditionally kind of faded over 5k in cross (he's now a junior and has to date been pretty aerobically unfit). He is DEFINITELY fit. Ran his first race this weekend and he did fine. He looked strong throughout. Never faded. Had a nice PR too. As such, we both were pretty pleased with his performance.
Then I started looking at who was around him. Guys who were 25-35sec faster than him had run similar times on the track in the spring. I was honestly a little surprised because I know he is so much fitter than he was in the spring and kind of assumed he would be crushing the kids who were around him in track. I think he made a massive leap in fitness this summer. He felt great during the race too... so its not like he felt cooked or like he didn't run well.
I haven't said to him that he should have been 35 or more seconds faster because I want him to ride the good feelings to his next race. He has confidence right now (he doesn't know the stats of the guys ahead of him like I know).
I was thinking of just giving him the advice of "listen, you crushed this first race by being measured. Now for this second race take some risks and put yourself in a position for top 10". And let that ride. What do you guys think? Or should I say "listen, I know you think it was a great race but guys 30 spots ahead of you you were running with in track season. You know you had an unbelievable summer... so go run with those guys... you belong"
I guess its the same end result... just trying to figure out what is more motivating.