Call it nerves or pre-race jitters, but I see too many people talk themselves into having a bad race. They are trained, they have the ability and yet they allow fear to take control as they approach the starting line. You hear them say things like: “I really don’t like this distance” or “I don’t like this course” or “I didn’t sleep well” or “This has been a stressful week. I just don’t know how I’ll do” or “It’s too hot!” I could list many more, but you get the idea!
You may think these are just harmless conversations we have with each other prior to starting the race. But your words have more weight than you realize. These statements allow you to rationalize a bad race before you’ve even reached the starting line! You have given your mind permission to accept the possibility of running a bad race and now it’s already considering how it will deal with that outcome.
Instead of spending valuable time and energy dwelling on negative possibilities, you will be better served to choose to have a positive attitude and focus on what it good about your current circumstances. Maybe the week has been stressful, but you’ve trained well, so remind yourself that you are physically prepared and running a solid race would a great way to put to bed the stress of the week.
We all have doubts and fears, but successful runners learn to harness them, reign them in and shift their focus to what they must do in the race before them.
If you have a bad attitude or have been focused on the negative aspects of your circumstances, then there is a good chance that when things get tough mid race, you will have a hard time pulling yourself together and pushing through. When you start to struggle with your pace, you will remember how little sleep you got or how you don’t run well in hot weather. Your mind is justifying why you can’t run that pace today instead of recalling how you nailed your workouts last week.
Give you race a fighting chance! Choose to look on the bright side and speak only about feeling good and being ready to run. Besides that, honestly, no one really wants to hear about how bad your race is going to be. People are more focused on themselves and their own race anyway. Personally I have found it to be a lot more fun to encourage others to do their best and watch them light up as they consider the possibility. And if the negative talk around me gets to be too much, I just move away.
Finally, besides choosing to have a positive attitude no matter what, let me encourage you to eliminate situations that stir up negativity for you. If you don’t like a particular race distance or a particular course, then don’t even sign up for those races. Don’t feel obligated to run races you don’t enjoy. If you don’t like the marathon, don’t waste your time, energy and money running them, just because your friends are. If you prefer trail races then quit signing up for road races. Life is too short to waste time doing things you don’t enjoy! And you probably won’t run as well as you could if you enjoyed the race distance or the course.
Next time you catch yourself complaining about your race circumstances, I want you to stop yourself and think how you can turn it into a positive. It’s important that you speak it out loud as your words have power. Come back and let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page what you did and how it made you feel better about your race! I can’t wait to hear from you!