Sport Science, Finish Lines and this Pandemic

“Teleoanticipation” is basically the science of finish lines, and how their presence (or absence) influences us. @sweatscience

On Nov. 21, Alex Hutchinson wrote in the Globe and Mail about what sports scientists who study this topic might have to teach us about the coming months with respect to the pandemic, vaccines, our ambitions and our mental health.

It’s a great article and I’m grateful that Julie Labach, a runner targeting the Tokyo 2020 team, sent me note and shared the link. She found the article helpful and wow, so do I.

Among other things, the article discusses the intersection of how we physically and mentally plan –and pace ourselves— for finish lines. “Knowledge of an eventual endpoint (or telos) influences the entirety of an experience.”  Well, you can bet those sport scientists had some fun <wink> and did studies where they removed the endpoint and looked at performance during events and races that had no finish line.

No finish line?? Hmmm… isn’t that what makes all of this so hard? Not only is it impossible to know when the pandemic will be over, we’ve all been teased by false summits. After the freedoms that came with success of lowering the curve after the first wave, we’ve been confronted with more restrictions on the steep upward side of the second wave.

How are we to pace ourselves through this?? From the article, I’d like to pull out a few thoughts that helped me with this.

“It turns out that, if you ask yourself “Can I keep going?” rather than “Can I make it to the finish?” you’re far more likely to answer in the affirmative.”


“Knowing that the end will come is clarifying; counting the hours until it comes, on the other hand, is paralyzing.”

On this last point I’ll add a quote from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. Speaking recently on the CBC National News she said No pandemic doesn’t have an ending.” It’s a backwards sentence… but, phew! it’s good to be hear from someone who studies these things that this will all pass.

So, take heart; the pandemic will end –and remember—it’s to your advantage to focus on the moment you are in, the thing that you are doing. It is not advantageous to focus on when disruptions caused by the pandemic will finish. Stay in your lane and focus on the step your taking.

Take care and happy holidays. ‘See’ you next in 2021!


The article, an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail by Alex Hutchinson, was printed on Nov. 21. 2020, titled COVID-19 is like running a marathon with no finish line. What does sports science say about how we can win it? Regrets – It is printed in English only.