These are 7 of the things that start going through my mind the week before an event. You are trying to align your mind with what your body is about to do. Mental prep is vital to success, so self-talk leading up to a race is critical.
1) You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
Training is done, there’s nothing more to do. You will wish you had more time. I rarely get to the starting line feeling 100%, more like 75-90%. You rarely perform the perfect taper or get great sleep the week of the event. Everyone has a life outside of running, unless you’re a pro, that will put additional demands on you. If you can get to the starting line be grateful.
2) Today Will Not Be Perfect
The event will not be perfect. Know that things will go sideways and I hope they do! Odds are I will fall, run out of water, get injured, and be extremely tired. The list goes on and on, expectations should be low then I will be pleasantly surprised if it goes well. Prepare your mind for adversity!
3) Keep Your Mind Busy
Take some photos, talk to strangers, or plan your aid station meal. From the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” keeping busy eliminates suffering and pain. We are single-track-minded, and we really only do one thing at a time. Keeping your brain busy with something helps distract from the pain. It can’t focus on a task AND pain, so make sure you get busy with some tasks to distract from the pain.
4) Insecurities Come and Go
Get ready for the highest highs and lowest lows. The event will have times you feel like you are on top of the world, then wish someone would put you out of your misery. It will bounce between these two extremes, realize they pass just like a fast-moving storm, and you just need to acknowledge it and keep moving!
5) Fix Minor Issues Early
Be sensitive to irritation. If something is annoying you in the slightest way, stop and take care of it. Tell your crew to get whatever you need to fix it, ice or lube if there’s a hot spot. You can’t put things off. Small problems balloon into major issues the longer the event. Your mind will keep nagging you if you don’t, until is screaming to stop.
6) Always Be Eating (A-B-E).
Constantly fuel your body and brain. Unlike training, it’s something I remind myself in a race. Set a timer for every 30 minutes and keep eating or drinking your calories. You should also change what you are eating as to not get sick of it. The stomach is slow to digest and you are going to be doing this for a long time. ALWAYS BE EATING! You think this is simple to do, but it is not. The brain gets lazy with remembering when to eat, and the stomach stops craving food.
Our brains are so dumb that if you smile it will ease suffering. If you can find joy or fun in what you are trying to accomplish it will make it easier. Happiness is contagious, be a source of fun and joy to those around you. I carry a picture of my family to remember why I am doing this and what is most important.
That’s it. These 7 tricks help me get through my events. Just enjoy it because it’s over before you know it. If you have any mental tricks I would love to hear them in the comments below!