The Mind Game

We often have the idea that with ideal training and the perfect race that it’ll all come together and be easy during a race.  It can all come together but race pace is always a challenge. Dealing with and managing your brain is a much bigger part of race management than any newbie ever expects. Practicing positive mental cues and mantras during training is a great way to prime yourself to deal with the inevitable mental difficulties that arise during a race.

Here is one athlete’s take on a recent half marathon race. Thanks Lora B!

Wow, 8 am. An hour in, really? Too fast. Hit the half way mark. Six miles. Ugh. Only half way?? I’m tired. Run your race. A few pass me. She’s older than I am. Doesn’t matter. Who cares. Run your race…

I want a shirt that says, “Yes I’m 55, and I’m in front of you.” No I don’t, it’s not about that. Run your race. Everyone is tired, it’s all about being here not who I beat.

Why am I so tired? Because you have run 9 miles already!?

Okay, inventory – what hurts? Feet. Duh, run lighter, tempo, pick up your knees, better.

What else hurts? Knee? I’ll stop and stretch when I get to that sign. Much better, get back up to pace.

What else? My calf – tight but not too bad, I can stretch at next water station.

Good sign- “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” I can’t believe I am doing this again. Change – see myself as an athlete again, find joy in hard work. Yes this is hard but I am doing this!

Down hill stretch – I want to break 2 hours, I see that pace bunny (2:00 hour) ahead, I can get up there. No you don’t, that’s insane. Just finish. Stop looking at the time. I swear I will take off this damn watch. I am looking at my distance, not time, no I’m not. Yes I am.

OMG. This hill is too long…. Have to walk, that’s OKAY, you’re doing it. Keep moving. Shade now, thank Gawd… still incline but let’s hit it, use your butt muscles, push your tempo, and power up those arms!

Stop checking time – watch the mile marker signs instead –count down the clicks. 8k (clicks) to go. Inventory – what hurts? Nothing else, nothing new, very tired, water coming up. Downhill now, find the recovery, hold tempo, this is better… in the shade now.

5 clicks to go, okay, that’s 3 miles, that’s once around Green Lake. Another frigging hill? Seriously. Okay, watch the crowd, hi-five the kids, good signs people. Thank you people for smiling and cowbells, not just standing there watching us idiots run by.

Okay, just 2 clicks, Gawd it’s hot… 2K, that’s just over a mile. Okay, now I’m heading back from an easy run to Sunset park, I do this all the time. Shade please, shade please, don’t stop. 2 clicks. Seriously just 2 clicks left! Why are these people stopping to walk?! Not my problem. Just run my race. I can do this, just run your race, don’t care about time. We are going to run across that damn finish line, no matter how slowly!

Okay, shade on the left, all the way to the finish line – see it, a football field away, no problem. Pick up your feet, tempo, you did it… Clock says 2:14 but is that from first start or our wave? Geez, did I run 2:10? Holy smokes, I think so.  F##k. Done. Give me water. Thank you Lord…


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