Racing is more than just the sum of the parts of training…. I believe we can draw 25-35% more out of ourselves on race day than we can with any training session. How do we explain that? Some of that % is simple enough, rest, fueling, adrenaline etc but a great deal of it is the unknown and the unexplainable… it just is what it is ! However more and more I see the pressure of people attaching their self esteem and entire core value to the outcome of their race- if your very self - reason for existing, if indeed your raison d’etre is predicated upon how fast you race, then my friends you are doomed from the outset. You must be free to fail just the way a baby is free to fall when learning to walk…. that does not mean you do not care, it most certainly does not mean you do not try, au contraire, you try with every fiber of your being; that is why you are racing and stretching your physical and mental boundaries but it means you can accept failure without compromise to your space and place on this planet and amongst your peers, family and friends. You are not a better person for having raced well or a lesser one for having raced poorly; you are only a disappointment to yourself if you didn’t try ! Trying is what you MUST do….if you try your hardest within all the circumstances that are within your control, then you have done enough- the things outside your control will either work for you or against you on any given day- on the day that they work for you, then you will achieve the times commensurate with your training or even slightly above ~! If you come up short, you dust off, and get back up - you do not quit before during or after. You learn from your mistakes and build upon what you did right. You trust in your training and you have a strategic yet flexible game plan come race time and you do not allow anyone or any conditions to psyche you out- you just make any sensible rational adjustments should they be necessary. How do I know? I know because I improved my marathon time from 4.41 -2.34 and my mile time from 9.30 mins to 4.21 between ages 27 an 35….. That’s how I know ~ I know from hundreds of races on tracks trails and roads. I keep a rational head. I managed to find the peace inside of pain under extreme duress and you must do the same. This is why the breathing cadence is so critical because it remains the instrument at the very heart of the peace inside of pain that allows for calm rhythmic movement and without breath we have no life and without life we do not exist and if we cannot exist with our own thoughts then we cannot survive in the world of competition ! So the next time you race, pay attention to your breathing, match it up with your arm cadence and find the peace inside of pain, do everything under your control to place yourself in a position to succeed without sabotage of irrational decision or judgment and maybe just maybe you will achieve that goal time and maybe just maybe, you will pursue success instead of fearing failure !
The Peace inside of pain* Credit for this phrase: Bob Glover: The New Competitive Runner's Handbook.