Many of you are gearing up for a goal race on Sunday at the Bass Pro Fitness Festival. In fact, quite a few of you are going to attempt to break 2:00 in the half.
So, how do you push out of your comfort zone and really, truly race on race day? You see people who do it. You see people who push hard and give it their all. Then you see people who stop at every mile marker and take a picture. Let me say this - if you want to hit your goal, you'll need to join the first group. You will have to race, push, and give it your all.
A comfort zone is a state of mental security. It is a comfortable space where your activities and actions fit a pattern that minimizes stress and risk. Running within your comfort zone feels just that – comfortable.
Neuroscientists have established that the brain learns best when stress hormones are slightly elevated. In other words, pushing the boundaries of comfort and experiencing discomfort (i.e. stepping out of your comfort zone) can lead to noteworthy progress and improvement. The key to progressing is to keep gently nudging the edges of your comfort zone, and take small steps. Once you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone, you will begin to get comfortable again, so you need to continually, although gradually, push yourself to a new level of discomfort. Too comfortable and you’re not productive; too uncomfortable, and you’re not productive – it’s a delicate balancing act.
On race day, you will feel all kinds of emotions. You may be nervous, scared, excited, happy, etc. All of these emotions can cause you to lose focus. You need to remember to race smart if you want to meet your goal.
1. Do not fly out of the gate. Have a goal pace? Stick with it. If you go balls to the wall right off the bat, you're likely going to burn out, and hit the wall. Hard.
2. Ease into your pace. Get comfortable with your goal pace. You've been training for it. Settle in, and prepare to race.
3. Keep your goal in mind. What are you here to do? How have you worked to meet that goal? You're a beast. Own it.
4. When things start to hurt (think, around mile 8-10 of a half marathon), don't give up. This is where it's time to push past your comfort zone and really work. Think about all the workouts you've done with TFC and on your own. If you can finish all of those, why can't you push a little harder now? If you can crank out 10x400m at 6:48 pace, or if you can run 6 sets of the 30-20-10 (4 cycles per set) workout, why can't you do this? Of course you can. You've accomplished goals that you didn't think were possible before. You can do it again. Believe you can do it.
5. You will go through rough patches in your race. Don't focus on how much you hurt. Take a look at all the people cheering for you. Think about your goal. Think about why you run. Don't think about your burning lungs and aching legs. You've pushed past that stuff before. In fact, you do it every Wednesday morning.
6. Stop worrying about the people around you. They have their own goals. Stay mentally tough and run YOUR race.
7. Use your mantra. What is it that you tell yourself so you can push through hard times? My favorite? "Smarter, Faster, Stronger" - it reminds me that I'm smart and I know how to race. It reminds me I've put in the work to run fast, and it encourages me to push harder and run stronger.
8. Set small milestones. Break up your race mile by mile. Focus on the mile you're in and how it pertains to your overall goal. Do you need to run 9:00 for this mile? Focus on that. Focus on the hills in this mile and how you can use them to your advantage. Focus on using the downhills. Focus on meeting your goal.
9. Do not allow yourself to mentally quit. Did you screw up somewhere? Maybe you needed to run mile 9 at 9:05 pace, but you ran 9:20 pace. So what. Don't quit. You can still do this. Stay positive. Nothing in life is perfect, so keep working hard and remember how tough you are.
10. Embrace the pain. Sometimes, the pain can feel good. It can remind you that you're alive. You're living, breathing, and you have a heart that is pumping blood. Embrace this pain and remember why you run. Enjoy your life. Live in the moment. Fly.
11. When you think you cannot give anymore, you're probably wrong. In fact, you've probably got quite a bit left in the tank. Our body can only achieve what our mind allows.
12. Use your training. Remember all those hill repeats? Use them. Kick the crap out of some hills. Remember how we trained to run on tired legs? Use that knowledge and emulate it on race day.
13. When you get close to the finish line, push hard. What do you have to lose now? Granted, you should've been running hard enough through the entire race that you can't sprint like crazy to the finish. But, you still should give it an all out push. Empty your tank. You're done when you cross that line, and you can finally have a beer.
13.1 Just get out there and give it your best shot. Remember this: when you're done, what do you want to remember? Do you want to remember how you gave up on the course? Or do you want to remember that you pushed yourself and gave it all you had. Think about that when the pain sets in. Leave a legacy on the course that is strong and positive.
Good luck this weekend at Bass Pro. Here's our list of runners who are participating:
Beushausen, Lendall (13.1)
Beushausen, Malinda (13.1)
Boston, Melissa (13.1)
Herzog, Debra (13.1)
Luthy, Keshian (13.1)
Reagan, Magda (13.1)
Rhoads, Jody (13.1)
Stowe, Nicole (13.1)
Winfrey, Sharon (5k)
Weis, Joy (13.1 PACER) 2:00 group
Vest, Jame (26.2 PACER) 3:30 group
Remember all of the hard work you have put in over the last few months. When you start to hurt, remember why you're here. Remember why you've been putting in this work. Remember how fortunate you are to be able to toe the starting line. Don't give up. Get out of your comfort zone - treat yourself to a little pain. You'll like it. I promise.
Don't forget about the pasta dinner at Nick and Joy's house on Saturday!
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