Racing is Mental

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September 25, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness


It always surprises me when people are so impressed that I am training for a race.  I got a lot of it when I was getting ready for the Tough Mudder, but I got equal amounts when I prepared for my half marathons and my triathlons.  Not to diminish the effort, I had to put in a lot of work to get myself ready for those events, but it wasn’t like I was trying to win.  I was trying to get out there, finish, and in the case of a second time around, I was trying to do better than my first.

I think that these events are daunting to a lot of people.  They don’t think they could ever finish.  They don’t think they have the stamina.  They aren’t ‘athletes’.  They don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of other people.  They don’t want to put forth all this effort and then not be able to finish.  The list goes on and on and on.  And in the end, these are excuses.  You either decide you want to do a race and you commit to doing it, or you don’t, and then you are likely to fail.

Think about this: what is the worst thing that could happen if you go out to run a race (for the sake of argument here, let’s talk about a half marathon)?  I suppose the worst case scenario is that you suffer an injury that prevents you from finishing (a sprain or a broken bone).  In that case, there will be a crack team of first air staff at the ready to get you taken care of.  Not the ideal scenario, but it’s not like you can get upset about not finishing the race if you are truly injured.

Ok, so what is the other likely scenario?  You could get tired and not be able to run any longer.  In which case guess what?  You walk to the end.  Of course that will never happen.  My first half marathon was the Miami Half.  When I started the race, I did it all wrong: started off too fast, didn’t take the water breaks, and didn’t listen to my body when it was telling me it needed fuel.  Epic fail.  Around mile 9 I hit a wall, major head bonk and I stopped.  I walked for a bit to the water station, had a drink, and then kept on walking.  After about 10 minutes of walking, I thought to myself, “This is gonna take a lot longer if you keep walking.  Get going!”  And off I went.  The chances of you walking to the end of your half marathon are very, very low.  And if you do?  Who cares?  There are plenty of walkers out there, you won’t be the first, you won’t be the last.

There are 2 keys to successful completion of a race.  #1 – decide you are going to do the race no matter what.  #2 – training.  Train, train, train.  And have a plan for your training.  Unless you are some natural born runner (in which case this blog post is not for you anyway), you need to have an approach to getting ready for the race.  If you train properly, the chances of you not being able to finish or hurting yourself are slim to none.  Plus, a training plan breaks down what can seem like a long distance (13.1 miles) into little chunks.  Before you know it, you will be off to the races!

There are a gazillion training plans out there.  I used this plan for my first half marathon:

The key is running at least 4 days a week (sometime I would throw in an extra for mental purposes) and getting in at least 2 days of strength training.  Obviously no powerlifting, but enough to help grow some muscles.

I can’t tell you anything that hasn’t already been written before when it comes to training.  There are people who are smarter and better at it than I am.  What I can tell you is that if I can do it, you can do it.  Races are mental.  It is up to you to decide that you can do it.  If you make that decision, then nothing will get in your way from finishing what you set out to accomplish.

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