Ironically the topic I am supposed to blog on for our team's website is "racing". Which is quite the funny because I am unfortunately nowhere near even thinking about racing as I am still on the DL from the sprained ankle. BUT, in anticipation and hope for the days ahead I can offer a little something :)
Racing for me used to be my favorite thing in the world, being competitive there is no better outlet for that then race day. However, in the past few years the mental side of running has really hit me; and taken a little bit of the fun out of running for me. I don't think I realized the impact mental anxiety has on performance until Thanksgiving this year. After months of training and a pretty decent racing season I took off a good 3 weeks - of NOTHING. As part of my Thanksgiving tradition I ran a race on literally one week of training, and got 2nd - on 6:10 miles - that felt like I was walking. Why? How did that happen? No expectations, no stress, nothing on the line. Since that very moment I have really grown a lot and really started to put that into action - - January and February (2 PRs) were the first indications of this new approach working. And then I tripped on a rock (but I digress).
But, honestly I don't feel that I am in any position to provide advice or guidance on the mental side of racing. I am still learning myself. So what I thought I would do is share a race ritual that I do every single time I toe the line - no matter how big or small.
Every single race I dedicate to someone, and I write their name on my shoes. At the toughest points of the race, at the moments when I don't think I can keep the pace, when I want to give up, I think of that person - what they have gone through, what they have done for me, what they mean to me - - and time and time again, I get through that rut, and get a second wind.
Running can be seen as such a selfish, individual sport - but that is so far from the truth. Because it is just you against the miles the support and love you get from other people determine your success. I remember running Chicago 2010 in the 100 degree heat for a huge hero of mine, breast cancer survivor and fighter, Mrs. Cyr. As the thermometer climbed and people dropped like flies, I vividly remember speeding up thinking this was a joke compared to the fight she was having. At the time it was a PR (3:03) in conditions that shut down the marathon early. That wasn't me - that was her, I am pretty sure, pushing me.
It's my absolute favorite part of this whole journey, and quite frankly I CANNOT wait to get another chance to sit down the night before a race and "do the shoes"!