Smart, Hard, And Be Consistent
It sounds so simple. “You have to train smart and hard to reach your goals”. Wow, not exactly rocket science is it. However, when you’ve put the work in, you can step to the starting line with confidence and know you'll do well.
In fact, knowing at a heart level that you did everything possible to prepare for a race is one of the most important things you can do for your mental racing health. Being consistent in your training is the number one predictor of success.
Your mental bank account should always be full when you go to the starting line. Training smart and hard each day makes this happen. The phrase "I've done the work and I'm ready" is how you want to feel on race day.
Don’t Second Guess Yourself
If you have done everything possible to prepare for a race, don’t second guess yourself. Believe in your God-given abilities.
Second-guessing is a waste of time and the enemy of hope. Have confidence that your training and faith in your God-given ability will take you to a personal best.
Be humble but leave the second-guessing to someone else.
Sweat The Small Stuff
Make sure you create a race day checklist to help keep yourself calm and focused on race day. You don’t want to be rushing around looking for things at the last minute. Think about the things you need prior to a big race.
Do I have the proper socks and other items to prevent blisters/chafing?
Have I hydrated properly for several days prior to my big race?
Do I have the proper food and water/other hydration items ready and available for race day?
Am I eating foods that help me recover quickly from hard workouts and races?
Have I tested my ferritin and hemoglobin levels to ensure they are in line with my physician's expectations for running and racing?
Am I rolling properly, getting a sports massage when needed, and doing appropriate strength exercises?
Do I have the proper shoes for training and racing shoes for race day?
What other items do I need for my race?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen small things like blisters stop someone from reaching a personal best.
I've seen similar issues stop personal best performances when simple tests for ferritin and hemoglobin levels are not taken seriously or just forgotten during the season.
Make sure you care for the seemingly small things like having the right kind of socks to help prevent blisters before a race.
Learn to be proactive on all the issues listed above. The more you plan ahead, the better you will likely run.
Brace Yourself For The Pain Ahead
Evidenced based research indicates that the acceptance of pain is a critical part of reaching you running goals.
Denying that pain is a part of the journey is not an effective coping mechanism when it comes to running and setting personal records. Acknowledging and accepting that normal race pain is part of the deal is a much better way to cope.
You can either have a good attitude or a bad attitude when it comes to pushing through the pain of a race. Work on your mental toughness during practice before a race.
For example, stating that your next race is going to be the hardest of your life is not being negative; it is being truthful and prepares you for the competition ahead. Acknowledge that you must stay tough in the midst of the storm.
Expect the normal pain of a race to come (because it will) and your much more likely to push through it. Be grateful that you have the ability to run at all. Use your gift wisely and be thankful even in the toughest moments of the race.
Have A Flexible Race Plan
Developing a race plan (s) helps ease the jitters and uncertainty of racing. It also helps you stay focused and “in the zone” for your race so you don’t get distracted by other things.
Olympic Gold medal winner Matt Centrowitz stated that he had several race plans before his 1500-meter gold medal race in the Olympics. Depending on what happened in the race, Centrowitz was ready to respond.
Walking through various "race scenarios” prior to a race is a great way to develop mental toughness and Iron will endurance.
Always “expect the unexpected” when racing. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Be resilient in the face of uncertainty and adversity.
I’ll talk more about ways to develop a championship mindset in future posts.