Mental Toughness – Getting into the game…
Going into a race, a brace, a competition or any type of performance event requires a certain level of calm and mental adjustment. I’ve been performing on stage since I was 6-years old. I was in both dance and violin and therefore know how to prepare myself for a competition. I’ve had good performances and bad performances and I know in order to do my best, I have to be prepared and remain calm.
This past weekend, I had two different events I was competing in – an American Kennel Club Hunt Test with my Vizsla and a local road race, The River Run 10K in Simsbury.
For the Hunt Test, I didn’t feel prepared. I have not handled my dog in a hunt test. Therefore, when I found out that I may have to handle my dog, I went out with my breeder and practiced. However, on Saturday morning, I got lost on my way to the hunt test and therefore I panicked. I showed up completely frantic and hyper. Being stressed out prior to any event is not a good thing. I didn’t want to stress out my dog, so I made the decision to have my friend handle Jetta. It was a good decision, because they did very well together and I kept my nervous energy away from them and the field where it belonged.
For The River Run 10K, I was tired going into the race. I wasn’t mentally into the race. I had originally registered for the race in order to set a 10K PR for my runDisney races. And unfortunately it wasn’t going to happen.
For weeks, I had been mentally struggling with my recovery from my recent major surgeries and the limitations my doctor and coach put upon my running. I knew I was not allowed to run hard or far and therefore pretty pissed off at my OB-GYN and my coach.
I tried to shake my piss-poor attitude and focus on my plan. Knowing that I was allowed to run 4 miles, I looked up my 10K PR – 1:02. My plan was if I could run/walk and maintain a 9:45 pace, then I would push myself. If I could not then I would run and walk until I finished and try not to hurt myself.
My first mile running a 2 minute run, 30 walk was 9:31. My second mile was a 9:55. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this pace with the rolling hills. So I decided to shorten up my intervals to a 1 minute run and 20 second walk and take my time. Mile 3 was 10:39, Mile 4 11:01, Mile 5 10:54 and Mile 6 (on a nice flat straight away) was 10:34. I finished the race 1:04:38 with a 10:24 pace. Not a PR, but pretty good for not training and not being allowed to run.
So here are my tips for mental toughness and getting yourself in the game:
- Control what you know you can control: I needlessly stressed myself out by being late for the Hunt Test. Have your directions ready and plan to arrive early so you have time to adjust and prepare.
- Be prepared: It wasn’t fair to put pressure on myself to get a PR when I had no business thinking I could because I had not trained – training equals being prepared.
- Have a back-up plan: I had a back-up plan for the brace and for the race. Having a back-up plan helps alleviate stress and manage expectations.
- Stay calm: It’s easy to remain calm when you know what to expect. That’s why you train. Training is practice and practice not only makes perfect, but helps to reduce anxiety!
What are your tips for mental toughness and getting yourself in the game?