Distance is a mental game.
Credit: Saeed Khan / AFP / Getty Images

While a well-thought-out game plan is important in short track, it's easy for skaters to get in their own heads in the longer distances – to their peril. "In the 1,500 meter, you can overthink the race," Jayner says. "The race starts out slow. It's a little more tactical at the start, and you start mistakenly thinking, I can stay here for a while, or It's okay that that guy's moving up."

Jayner says that the longer the race, the more the mental aspect of the sport comes into play, with physical fatigue contributing to errors in judgment. "In the 500, it's easier to get into that zone of trusting your instincts because you have no other options," he says. "The race is so short that you can't overthink it."