Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mental Tug o' War

TAPER TANTRUM!!!  Race week is here, let the questioning begin.  Did I do enough?  Did I log enough miles? Will my nagging injury rear its ugly head?  Will I be able to finish under the time constraints?  The week heading into a race is always filled with doubts for me.  I struggle to come to terms with "trust in the process" and let the race play out.  I have had very few races where I toed the start line confident I have done all I needed to do.  I believe there really is nothing to be gained by last minute training runs trying to make up missing training sessions. Better to show up 10% under trained than 1% over trained, but trying to harness the anxiety for good thoughts and restful nights of sleep can be interesting.  This is one of the fun aspects of being an athlete, trying to channel nervous energy and questions into focused concentration and effort at the race.  
My main focus of this week will be visualizing my race and all the different scenarios that can happen.  I feel this helps me prepare for situations that can go right...and can go wrong.  My first visual is usually a mental check list of items I may need that are specific to the area I will be racing.  I do take some time to review the race's website about the course, course and weather conditions and I try to find some reviews from past participant's points of view of what to expect. The next scenario I picture is what will I load into my drop bags and how my transitions at those aid stations will go.  I want to make sure that I have my "go to" nutrition at certain points, have apparel for any weather and any incidentals that I may need.  
The biggest amount of time I will spend this week is visualizing myself in the race.  In my mind's eye, I can watch myself running in the race and picture how I feel, what I'm eating and drinking and what song I'll be singing over and over again.  I will not fool myself by thinking I'll be happy the whole race, have any issues or every planned detail will go off without a hitch.  It's actually quite the opposite, plan for the worst - hope for the best - and let the chips fall where they may.  I do visualize running on the technical, single track trail and mentally getting lost in the beauty of my surroundings.  I do remind myself to be nice and respectful to all the volunteers and to say, "thank you" entering and leaving the aid stations.  I focus on the fact that I am running, running for a long time and that time is "me" time, it is "my time."  It is a chance for me to unplug and enjoy the world around me, to not have a care in the world except to put one foot in front of the other.  
So if you happen to be running today, plan to run tomorrow or are looking at a weekend race, enjoy the run and don't worry about the time or your place or your age group...just enjoy the run and you'll win the tug o' war.

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