The fun part of racing is the race. But what happens when you find yourself alone in the field? It stops being a race against the competition and becomes a battle with yourself.
It’s just a few minutes in to the event and you’ve slipped to a place in the field on your own, unable to keep up with anyone ahead as they speed away, racing hard with each other and leaving you in solitude.
Plodding away alone at the back, with nobody to chase and race, you start wondering what the point is, you wonder why you’re here, and that negative little voice starts to get louder and louder. This is pointless, what are you going to prove? You’re going to get lapped if you don’t hurry up!
I’ve had races that were physically tough, and mentally tough when I couldn’t hold the pace. But this one was a race that I almost talked myself out of finishing.
You don’t deserve to be here, you’re only here by default, because nobody else wanted to come. You’re embarrassing yourself, you’re not even close to being in the same league as these women, and you’ll never, ever be as good as them. This isn’t even a race for you! Tell me again, why are you here?
Why the fuck can’t you keep up? Because they have been running for longer than you. Because they train harder than you. Because they want it more than you. Because they have more talent. Because they are smart.
Hey, you’re thinking like a loser, winners don’t have this attitude! Do you really think anyone else running or watching gives a shit about how fast you run? Do you think by not believing in yourself that you will get very far? Would that bad attitude have got you to the start line? For fucks sake, just get going. Don’t be a bitch, don’t think about pulling out. Leave your ego in the mud over there and keep running.
Keep moving your legs, keep pumping your arms, and think about why you’re here.
You’re here because you love running, because you love what it gives back to you. You’re here because you love the feeling of getting fitter and faster. You’re here because even though you knew you would be a lot slower than the ‘good’ runners, you still wanted to give it a go, to challenge yourself. You love the training, you love those free flowing hills, the ease at which you fly down the other side after grinding all the way up. You love that feeling, and that feeling didn’t come without a lot of hard work.
You’ve earned your right to be here, you’ve proved that you have potential. You should feel proud, you’re up against people that are a lot faster and stronger than you, and one day you might be running at their pace. Even if you aren’t going to pass anyone on course unless they pass out or break their leg, you’ve passed a lot of obstacles on your way to getting here. Tell yourself, you’re here because you love it.
Mindset in your training, and in your racing is important. It’s the difference between you having a good time or a bad time. It’s the difference between you failing and going home, or failing then getting back up again to do it tomorrow.
It helps to try and look at things from someone else’s perspective. I’ve never finished a race and thought, ‘Ha! Look at all those idiots running slower than I am, why did they bother to show up?’ Nobody thinks like that, but somehow you’re worried that they do!
When you’re having an rough patch in the middle of a race, a bit of positive self talk and a few encouraging words from friends can really turn things around. I’m always grateful for people who come to watch races, if you’re a spectator you’ve probably turned someone’s day around just by saying a few words.
Lap one Bye friends! Catch you later in the race!
Lap 1.5 Not fucking likely, buh bye.
Lap two Three laps to go. Not quite half way, just get to the end of the lap and you can pull out.
Lap three About 500m in the cheer squad of Wellington runners is on the strait and they are cheering for you. Come on Amanda, give us a grin! Are you laughing or crying? Go go go!
Lap four Paul is on the bend with his camera, click click click Great work Amanda!
Lap five The final lap. James is near the muddy straight, warming up for his own race, ‘Good job Amanda, push it ’till the end’
Your team mates are at the finish line ‘Nice one! I think we got a team medal!’
Your adoring family are waiting in the stands ‘We saw you do this massive snot rocket as you came past the grandstand. You’re disgusting. Great run.’
I wish I had something profound to write at this point but I don’t, so I will cheat by finishing with something somebody else wrote. After my race I got this email, I didn’t realise anyone knew how felt, thank you Paul Sharp.
Like you, I ran in the NZ XC champs yesterday. I watched the first 15 minutes of the Senior Women’s 10K and saw you complete two laps before we headed to the airport. Never easy, I thought, running solo in a race. But one man’s poison is another woman’s meat, and your My Romance with Running blog speaks of a human being and a runner with guts, resilience and spirit, and suggests that you simply just got on with it. You’re a star.