by Scott MacPherson
Dew on the grass, coffee and Power Bars… oh and a hint of…Icy-hot… body odor… and… Port-o-potties. That’s right it’s fall racing time!
A summer occupied with ill-fated attempts to beat the heat by running at the crack-ass-of-dawn is nearing an end. Soon, you will put all those miles to work and try and reap what you’ve sowed.
One thing is for sure… you have signed up, paid and prayed for your upcoming race. Whether it is a marathon, half marathon or perhaps your first 5k, distance aside, your D-day is fast approaching.
When people ask me what I love about running, I always tell them the same thing.
I love running because it is the only sport in the world that complete neophytes can line up with the world champion and test themselves on the same course! And that no matter what level you are running at, your emotions, physical pains, joys and lows are the same. No matter how immense or insignificant the race, the atmosphere remains the same.
People watch me run a marathon in under 2:20, or watch Chris Gowell run a mile under 4 minutes, and they think there is something supernatural in the works, but he and I feel the identical pains Joe Shmoe feels. When racing a marathon or a mile, it doesn’t matter how fast you do it, your legs slowly fill with thick corrosive acid, aching with every stride; lungs gasp and expand in order to suck just one more ounce of oxygen. It hurts like HELL! But anyone can do it! If you have the physical capacity to run, you can go to a local race and test your limits.
I have run a lot of races. All over the country and world, and what I truly love about our sport, is it doesn’t matter if it is the Olympic Trials in Houston, World Championships in Japan, or the Cap 10k in Austin, the pre-race atmosphere remains relatively the same (sans the smell of sushi).
There are lines at the port-o-johns, runners nervously striding and pacing, people scarfing down gels, energy bars etc. Some people are stretching, some people sitting and resting. All of the above anxiously awaiting the gun, in order to find out if it all paid off…
How to overcome the anxiety?
Trust your training and prep. No matter what level you run at, it is essential to trust the work you have done. That means looking back and knowing you put in the work. Rogue Running makes that easy for its runners. Rogue’s methods have been tested thousands of times. All you basically have to do is stick to the plan, and you can achieve your goals.
Look back to every 6 am run you did, whether it was a good run or bad, you were there, putting in the work. That’s what counts! When I coach runners for upcoming races, I can never stress enough how important visualization is. I have run hundreds of races, and I have visualized ever singe one of them.
Many of you in the Austin community know Erik Stanley. He is kind of a big deal! The guy is a Texas running legend, and when I was a freshman in high school, I believed the man to be a god… I could only dream about running with him, let alone beating him. So that’s precisely what I did… I dreamt about it… I visualized it. Every run and every thought I saw myself racing Erik and the other great runners in the state. Running with them… running next to them… and beating them. My freshmen year I was 30 seconds slower than Erik in the 2 mile. By the end of my sophomore year, I finished a second behind Erik at the regional track meet. I knew it was because I had run that race a dozen times over in my mind.
Visualize… trust… believe… and then, “Just F*#!ing Run!” Training is the hard part. Enjoy the race; good or bad take every step for what it is! Always learn from your failures and celebrate your victories. And remember, the guy leading the race is hurting just as bad as you!