When watching the last leg of Tour de France 2005, one of the commentators told that Lance Armstrong have said something like this: “I’d rather be number one and in the front the whole race, loose the sprint and become number four, than staying in the middle of the field and then win the sprint.” If you have the exact qoute, use the contact form or the comments!
This is the same thing that made Bjørn Dæhlie the worlds greatest winter athlete. He used to go the fastest he could as a junior. As fast as possible: 110%. For 3 out of 15 kms. Then fall over. Exhausted. And become number 39 or something.
Next race: As fast as possible for 4 kms. Fall over. Exhausted.
See the pattern?
When he finally managed to finish a race without falling over, he started winning. And winning. And became the most winning winter-athlete in the Olympics ever.
The moral: Don’t play it safe and save for later. Just give it everything you have from the start. This won’t give you golds in the beginning, but sooner or later it will.