I have always loved racing. I love the nervous pit in my stomach before hand. I still get it when I race now. There is so much less at stake when racing at this point than my races “back in the day.” Yet I want to do well. I also believe that it is that feeling – the adrenaline – that helps you race beyond your means. It is part of the mental side of running – the elusive, fascinating, infuriating other component to your physical ability. This is the hardest thing to coach and change about a runner. You can be in amazing shape, do all the right things leading up to and on race day, and it just may not come together that day.
My team had their 1st race today. 1 of my freshman has been practicing really well – much better than I expected. Today, it just didn’t happen for her. After the race I asked her how much was physical and how much was mental. She said “mostly mental.” I agreed. This is where I often joke with my team that I wish I could 2 little probes and alter their mental framework.
My answers to conquer the mental side are quite elementary. 1st off, I believe our bodies can do far more than we know. Next, you can’t think about how hard it will hurt. It will hurt. There is no way around that. But you can’t think about it. You have to want it and be willing to lay it out there. Risk is involved. Yet you risk in confidence. The moment a negative thought creeps in your head of being tired, a train wreck can begin so fast that there is not stopping it. Thus you have to keep the negative thoughts out. Simple, right?
I was planning on racing a 5K on Monday; yet the ankle changed that. I did run a bit around the course today as my team raced today. My ankle is sore and weak, yet definitely on the mend. There is a 5K at the end of the month I may run. Then, there won’t be much opportunity until my half marathon on November 22. I’m toying with a February or March marathon, but am still non committal.
For me, it’s important to have races picked out – to have goals. I like having a purpose in my training more than just to be able to enjoy a big bowl of ice cream! :)