As many racers know, there is a time that precedes your race where you decrease the volume of your training and increase your recovery time making for a well rested body come race day. Sounds idyllic.
But it sucks.
What does one’s body and mind do with all of this new found ‘free’ time? It second guesses. It feels sluggish. It wonders if you have trained enough, if you are ready, if you can accomplish your goal. It may even want to back out of the whole thing (wondering why in the world do I do these things anyway) and race day definitely can’t come soon enough.
Even better, pre-race dreams (or nightmares) begin. Anxiety runs high and those who don’t have this exact experience can’t quite understand what the heck your problem is.
This is where I am right now. This nightmare called “taper” is wreaking havoc in my life and I am officially calling a stop to it. That’s right. From this minute forward I am not succumbing to any of these pre-race tricks, and here’s my plan.
1) I will stop questioning my training. I did not complete every workout as assigned. I didn’t. Life got in the way and some workouts went without completion – without even the slightest bit of guilt. But I DID do 90% of my training. I did 95% of all the key workouts. I busted my butt on the track and on the trails and got my long runs in (with ease). I wasn’t perfect but I have trained well.
2) I will allow myself extra rest. And that’s a big one for me. Me and rest don’t exactly like to occupy the same space at the same time. But I will rest. I’ll use time to roll my muscles. To calm my mind. To be peaceful. I will not allow extra time = extra worry. Any negative thought will be squashed and replaced with a deep breath, a relaxation of my shoulders and a smile.
3) I will LET GO. I cannot control race day weather. I cannot control my son’s sleeping. I will not waste one ounce of energy on things I can’t control. I will determine my dinner and breakfast plan. I will determine my race day transportation. I will gather my nutrition and clothes and gear. And then I will let go of the rest.
4) I will not worry about my race pace or time (well, sorta). I know what I want to do and I have a great race plan. I know what I have to do to get my goal time. And I’m going to do a big hug and release on that goal time and not let it monopolize my race, what I think about my race or my feeling of accomplishment post-race. I just won’t.
Instead, I’ve decided to run my joy. In fact, “run your joy” is shaping up to be my race day mantra. I’ve competed in long endurance races before. I know that suffering is part of the day. I signed up for that – crazy as it sounds – I signed up for that suffering because it might be one of the few things I do all year that truly pushes me. Not pushes me until I’m uncomfortable and then I stop and do something more enjoyable, but pushes me until the race course says 26.2, whether I want to stop at mile 14 or mile 20. And it’s that kind of push that allows me to see how far I can go. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it rewarding? You better believe it.
But in that pain and suffering, I will keep reminding myself to “run your joy” because finding the joy in the moment at the same time as you are pushing yourself beyond comfort, to reach new limits is exactly where I want to be.