Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anxiety,Fear and Rest

It's interesting how anxiety,fear and nervousness can impact racing performance. The most obvious way you see an example of this is when a runner goes out too fast.Haven't we all done this at one time or another? Remember that feeling when you've gone through the first 2 or 3 miles of a 10k too fast and then find yourself struggling to maintain pace over the last mile and a half? Eventually, as experience is gained and confidence in your fitness is realized,most of us come to assume control over pre-race jitters and anxiety.I have written about ways of overcoming race anxiety in the past and so much of it relates to using common sense and keeping things in perspective. As we prepare for the fall marathon season,as well as other races, runners need to recognize how another type of pre-event anxiety can negatively impact performance on race day. What I am referring to here is not tapering or resting properly before the big race. Think about it,say you've done the right training for a marathon over the last 6 to 9 months,for some of you it may have been longer, but, when you get to the last 2 weeks you do workouts that sabotage months of carefully planned training. Once again,fear and/or anxiety has claimed yet another victim. There is a time just before your race when the interval sessions and the longer time trials are over. Arthur Lydiard wrote: "You need to keep fresh and sharp to race well: you can't do this if you try to train hard and race at the same time." He especially stressed evaluating how you felt on a daily basis in the two weeks prior to THE race. In keeping sharp, easy jogging is interspersed with days of easy fartlek and short wind sprints. Again, as runners gain experience, they will learn what is the best tapering schedule for them. The key is that they are motivated to evaluate how they feel on a daily basis,not mindlessly following a schedule printed in a book.Something that all of us tend to forget is that rest is as important a component to training as is nutrition and running. Ignore one of them and your performance will be effected. I recall reading years ago that if you didn't train at all for one week you would lose 5 % of your fitness level.That's not much. Of course that percentage increased if you went into a second week of no running. The fact is, you will lose zero fitness if you only do light jogging the week of your race and take a day or two off. If you have done months and months of preparatory work,you must back off (rest),that is simply common sense and being aware of the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology. If you are prone to overtraining and not resting, then you need to put reminders in your training log or leave notes to yourself to get control of whatever compels you to potentially undermine all that training. Have confidence in the work you've done,tell yourself it's now time to recharge and be at the starting line fresh and ready to go.

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