I’ve seen it with people doing Ironman World Championships down to freshman in high school. Mostly, exercising is mental and much of the damage is done before we even start. We decide how we are going to perform. Where our breaking points are. That we are too tired to have a good race. 100% of the time, what we pre decide is exactly what happens. It’s the ultimate in self fulfilling prophecy.
I understand that we don’t know how things will go until we are in it and I also understand both race anxiety and fear, but what I’ve worked with athletes on is reframing their reality so that on even the most challenging of days we open ourselves up to the possibility of a positive outcome and performance.
Three weeks ago 6 of the boys on my XC team had to travel 4 hours away for to play in the high school band at an away football game. All week they talked about how tired they would be and some of my top runners even asked to run JV. I was having none of it. I explained to them that they needed to get a good nights sleep on Thursday, hydrate and rest as best they could on the way home. I also explained that I had done Ironman on 3-4 hours sleep before, they had to run less than 20 mins.
On race morning I started in on them early. “The weather is great, get off your feet for a bit, then get in your usual warm up.” I quashed any sort of “I’m tired I probably won’t run well.” bullshit straight away. Instead I spoke with each of them about not deciding how they were going to run beforehand. In the end, every single one of them had either a PR or season beat time and all of them were fired up.
So this weekend in whatever you’re going to do, give yourself the opportunity for it to be good as your default mindset. Even if it’s not perfect, I guarantee it will be better.