If you have been training for the 30th Annual TC 10K over the past few months you have likely learned one of the greatest lessons in sport:
You can’t wait to feel motivated. Motivation happens as a result of good planning and great habits.
It only takes a brief scroll through Instagram to notice that the world is full of inspiring words and photos, however, one of the most important things people learn through this process of following a training schedule, is that habit and action create far more meaningful results, than does reading about motivation or inspiration.
Right now, with 3 weeks remaining until race day, and the pull of the start line is coming, I would like to plant the seed that will help you continue your motivation to train.
I encourage you to approach the last weeks mindfully - that is, do your training, as you have been doing it, with good habits and practices (nutrition etc) - and TRUST that you will be as ready as you can be for Race Day (if you have been (mainly) consistent with training until now).
Your fitness may be to the point where you can work well in discomfort by now, during your faster intervals, but resist the urge to go beyond that in the hope that you can boost your fitness even more right now.
Resist the urge to test yourself too much because you are curious. Save that curiosity and challenge for race day, or you risk leaving your race in a training session. The training over the next 3 weeks is to prepare you for your best effort, not BE the best effort.
With weeks of training under your belt, your body is fitter and stronger, but also is carrying fatigue and you have to be particularly careful not to overdo it right now – which is easily to do with your excitement and enthusiasm! Injury prevention is still our goal.
Maintain patience for the process, and trust that you don’t need to do anything extra or find extra magic out there. The magic is in the process and the mental preparation for things to go well.
It isn’t over at the finish line: Are you ready for the day after the TC 10K?
As we get caught up in the momentum of our training, planning and preparing for sessions meticulously (or even winging it) we sometimes can’t see that we are giving an energy and passion to something that is unmatched elsewhere in our lives. You have a training plan mapped over several months and every couple of days is a session that brings you closer to your goal. From taking care of your time management to tinkering with your nutrition and gear, you create a forward momentum to your goal race that becomes a constant part of your life. You are committed to eating well, sleeping well, and making positive choices on a daily basis to support your clinic night and goal race. You even have a vision of what that finish is going to look like and how you feel crossing it. This is awesome and a fantastic part of sport, but do you have a picture of the day after?
Without even knowing it sometimes, athletes have a huge emotional-as well as physical-- investment in their goals. The more important the event, the larger the investment and when the event is all over, there is sometimes a feeling of letdown as all that energy dissipates across the finish line. Without the goal pulling you forward, there is an emotional void and a sense of letdown or post-race blues after the adrenaline wears off. This is totally normal behaviour and being prepared for the week after your goal race is as essential part of season planning.
A Zen approach would suggest that all events are neither good nor bad, they just are. While sport is full of highs and lows, weathering everything with a sense of the satisfaction and wonder creates a peaceful relationship with your journey. Here are some other general tips for preparing for the ‘other’ side of the finish line.
1. Have a plan for what’s next. Whether it is a two week vacation, signing up for another clinic, or a detailed recovery plan, plan your post-race training well in advance to race day. If you are planning on a break, then make sure you know how you are going to fill your time. Knowing what to do and what you want to do after the race goes a long way to filling the void.
2. Put that energy to good use. Plan on a few projects or goals that don’t revolve around racing. Switching gears and getting some other things done provides a nice balance to the single minded focus of big goal. Choose some alternate sports for a while, and ones that you can enjoy with your friends, partner, kids etc.…
3. Plan to reflect on your race and your season and review your process. Reflecting is a great process for appreciating your accomplishments and finding a sense of purpose and happiness including things you love about your activity. If journaling isn’t a smooth process then simple lists will do. Make sure you include things that you did well and things that need improvement when looking at your past 14 weeks. List 5 goals you accomplished during the season and 5 workouts you loved. Note 5 things you want to learn or improve upon.
4. If your race ends in disappointment, wait several days before writing your review and give yourself time to absorb the experience before making decisions. All races are opportunities to learn, and while disappointing races are hard to take initially, they are often the ones with the biggest hidden gifts of making us more resilient, smarter and appreciative of the good moments.
5. Live in the moment AND think ahead. While most people think only of their next race or in one year season cycles, great training encompasses development in 2-4 year spans. When you know that your last training clinic is only a part of a bigger picture, you get a good sense of perspective that allows you to fully appreciate all the moments that a season offers.
More on post-race planning and action coming soon! Meanwhile, keep loving your walking and running program and feel proud of where you ARE RIGHT NOW!