Yeah it is kind of a goofy title but the message is a good one. Have you ever made a list of things that you can and can not control in a race? I read this in Gordo Byrn's book and thought it was a little whacky when I first read it but then went back and tried it for my last race. If you have not read Going Long by Gordo and Joe Friel, it is a must read for anyone serious about training for longer distance races. The race was my big race, where it all mattered so the stress level was higher than usual and I have not been the best at keeping an even keel on race week when I get to the A race each year. I created the list that is at the bottom of this article a couple of days before the race and just kept either adding things to it or reviewing it on a regular basis.
What is the point of this list? I think the simple answer is that it dumbs things down and allows you to think about only the things that you can control and need to focus on. It is a guide to where you should spend your mental capacity. I broke the list in to three parts:
· Out of my control
· In my control
· Race day thoughts
A lot of people waste time and mental energy on the things that are out of their control. I have done it countless times, thinking about what the weather is going to be on race day. Does it matter if it is going to rain or be hot? Yeah it matters with hydration etc but in the grand scheme of things, this is not something that you need to spend your time thinking about. Remember that your mind is the driver here and you want to be focused on the things that are going to help you succeed on race day. Weather is not going to do that. Focusing on good form, pacing, and smooth transitions are things that you need to be thinking about. Don't be afraid to be too detailed. I put the weather and then I called out certain types of weather. Add to it and keep coming back to it. Try to have it memorized so that as you go about your preparations the last day and the morning of the race you are thinking about the things you need to.
The list helps you separate things out. You can try to do this mentally and not write it down but to me, the list was concrete and I looked at it enough to have it engrained in my head. The week of the race it was nasty and humid all week. The day before the race at the registration, someone joked with me saying, "Better not be too hot tomorrow, I can't race well in the heat." "That is not something I can not control," I replied. This guy had already given himself an out and a doubt. The out was the excuse for not achieving his goals and the doubt was the last thing he needed in his mind. When you are out on the course, your mind is your best friend or worst enemy. Make it your best friend and program it to think about the things that are going to help you succeed. Little things like this can go a long way to making your big day successful. You trained hard both physically and mentally, stay focused and make it happen.
Things that are out of my control:
· Flat tires, change them and move on.
· Other peoples pace. Don't try to chase someone you think you can beat.
· Training, it is done and done well, nothing you can change now.
Things in my control:
· Eating and drinking.
· Remember what you have come through before for pain.
· Keep pushing.
· Small circles on the bike
· Quick feet on the run
· Take your shot
· You are faster than you think you are
· Stay focused as you pass the halfway mark on the bike.
· Negative splits, start slower and build up