POINT: HAVE A DRINK THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE!
By Mandy Dean
Everyone functions a little differently under pressure. (Which is why a lie detector is part of the CIA hiring process. (FYI, if you want to be a CIA agent, get a library degree. True story….Think about that next time you’re late with a book.))
We all know people in our groups who are normally the picture of outgoing and confident and we all know people in our groups that regularly in the running for “Rogue Complete Headcase of the Year” (the trophy ceremony for this is very nice.) However, before races, pretty much EVERYONE gets the jitters. As a quite wise man (my father) once told me, “if you don’t have butterflies before a game, you should find something else to do.” (…granted this is also the man who introduced the “pull my finger” trick to my brother, so…)
However, the point remains that the however you react, normally the stress of what-may-come PLUS the stress of not-running-as-much-during-a-taper generally weighs down the last day before a race. I find that my teammates and I can’t really find anything to discuss EXCEPT the upcoming race. A lot of conversation is generally spent going back over and over the same stuff we’ve already discussed, (conditions, course quirks, schedule and logistics). A lot of my internal conversation is spent going back over and over my race plan, my bedtime/wake up, and ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WILL BE INTERNET WATCHING ME (there’s nothing you can do about it. Your friends at Rogue will find your bib number and live-blog your splits.) I also spend a lot of time vacillating between feeling like nothing important will happen the next day, and then totally panicking about pain at mile 22 (WELP I’LL PROBABLY DIE.)
All this mental expenditure HAS to have a physiological effect. (that IS the whole point of Yoga, correct? The mind/body connection? …I read things on the interwebs!! ) Why else would my knee start twinging, when it’s NEVER twinged before!!!???
And it is generally accepted (so accepted I have no need to cite any research article to prove it.) that alcohol relaxes blood vessels, which helps relax your muscles, which can either lead to falling over or falling asleep (in my experience, at least). THEREFORE:
Have a drink with dinner before your race!! (btw, don’t like…have a shot of vodka, or like a margarita. That’s not what I’m advocating.) It is a great way to relax and help yourself fall asleep early while the sun is still out (6pm)!! You should totally do it, no matter what my esteemed 25-year-old-fresh-out-of-grad-school colleague, Sir Austin Steeples Bussing says. I don’t care that he’s been running and racing his WHOLE LIFE, I am completely correct. His counterpoint argument is likely just filled with vile lies and junk science.
“And it is generally accepted (so accepted I have no need to cite any research article to prove it.) that alcohol relaxes blood vessels, which helps relax your muscles, which can either lead to falling over or falling asleep (in my experience, at least). THEREFORE:
Have a drink with dinner before your race!!”
So have a glass of wine with your pre-race dinner!!!! Just don’t also have pasta, that stuff is terrible.
Counter-point: Do NOT have a drink the night before a big race
By Austin Bussing
Hello, fellow Rogues! I relish the opportunity to, in this very public forum, not only defend my character, which has been brought under shameful assault by Mandy Deen, but also to ensure that you are not led astray by Mandy’s baseless and asinine assertions and- I shudder at the term- ‘advice.’ I will do so with no references to “junk science,” and certainly without resorting to “vile lies.” I resent the implication- nay, the straight up accusation- that I would debase myself to such a level.
To embark on my counterpoint, I want to take you all back to middle school English class. Remember Ernest Hemingway and his archetypal ‘code hero’? In case a refresher is needed, the following synopsis should suffice for the purposes of my argument: Protagonists in Hemingway’s works are often subjected to the seemingly arbitrary, senseless, and at times cruel nature of circumstance. Acknowledging that they have no semblance of control over these circumstances, and thus their destinies, these code heroes nonetheless maintain their dignity by exhibiting grace under pressure, and unshakeable courage in the face of their fate.
I will be the first to admit that referencing Hemingway in an argument against drinking is a rather unorthodox, if not entirely hypocritical, rhetorical strategy- but please hear me out. Just like bullfighting, the Spanish Civil War, and deep-sea fishing, a distance race can subject its participants to immense pain and senseless mortal struggle. Our knowledge of this reality produces the pre-race jitters to which Mandy refers. And here is where my point is made- if even the thought of a race makes you seek the safe confines of alcohol-induced comfort, this does not bode well for the pivotal moment of truth within the actual race when you must decide to nut up or shut up. In that moment, there is no equivalent of a beer or shot to calm the nerves. You must face your fate, sober and alone, and reconcile yourself with the fact that it’s going to hurt like hell if it’s going to yield the outcome you want.
“And here is where my point is made- if even the thought of a race makes you seek the safe confines of alcohol-induced comfort, this does not bode well for the pivotal moment of truth within the actual race when you must decide to nut up or shut up.”
Pre-race nervousness, in many ways, can be distilled down to some form self-doubt. This doubt, while it can be partially and temporarily obfuscated by a drink the night before a race, will certainly be exposed in the middle of the race when the going gets tough. Better to confront this doubt head-on, fearlessly, than to bury it with a Shiner and wait for it to wreak havoc mid-race.
My advice: drink after the race, when you actually have something to celebrate, rather than before the race, when you’re only cowering from your own crushing sense of inadequacy.
Let us know what your pre-race ritual looks like in the comments section below or on Facebook. (Editor’s note: One may also drink during. Just saying.)