Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Head Games

I'm not sure I've totally shared this little window into my world—though I have alluded to it—but I'm a total headcase when it comes to a big workout or athletic event. This has ailed me since middle school, when, the night before a track meet—or basketball tournament, or tennis match, or soccer game—my butterflies were more on-the-verge-of-throwing-up than they were nerves-of-excitement.

Sometimes all I think about is disaster when I imagine an upcoming race or a workout...bad weather, heavy legs, labored breathing, no rhythm, slow splits, fear, disappointment.
My coach and my husband agree on this one: I think too much. Here's some really simple stuff I try telling myself on the road—in place of the thesis of analysis whirring through my head—to get through the rough spots. If you've got a mantra that works for you, I'd be thrilled to hear about it. Click comments below to share. Photo grabbed from Posted by Liz

The night before a race and during speed workouts...“Age groupers think; elites execute."
I got this one from my coach, Adam. No, I do not think I'm an elite athlete. And lord knows I'm not even close to an age grouper. But as a mere mortal, I have ple-nty to learn from them. This one clicks with me.

Into the wind..
Kate and I live in Chicago. So we are intimately acquainted with the wind. Like the 15mph gusts I encountered in a "tempo" run this morning. Wind makes you feel slow, sluggy..."like your legs have had five beers," as my friend Marc so aptly put it in a text message (he was attempting some half-marathon pace miles). Instead of dwelling on how much the wind sucks, how cold it is, how tired my legs are, I try to remember that this is making me stronger, fitter and faster!

On a hill..."Head down, butt up."
This one comes courtesy of Olympian Ryan Hall. It's something he grew up hearing his Dad say, I learned over the summer in a
Runner's World profile, and it's stuck with him. Something about it gels with me, too. It's like I'm saying to the hill, I know you aren't going anywhere so I'm rolling up my sleeves and digging in. It's work, like anything else! Bring the work ethic!

At the end of the race..."Just hold this effort."

This is the point at which self-doubt wanders into my head, finds a couch to plop into, puts up his feet, and implies he’ll be making himself right at home for a while. I try to turn off my brain, stop looking at my watch and just think about my breathing and my effort--the only things I can control.

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