Readers to this site know that I am very big on listening to what successful people,especially runners, have to say.I assume most others who want to succeed feel the same way I do.
Recently I was speaking with my friend Scott from the Buffalo area where I used to live.For two decades he has competed in countless road races around Western New York,he continues to place high and even win his fair share of races.I asked Scott if he could give me his pre-race,race and post race thoughts,meaning,what does he think about and consider as it relates to the whole racing experience.Here's what he had to say: "To begin with,I go into the race telling myself that the training program I'm following is better than most of the other guys I'll be going against, and at worst,equal to the rest.See,racing as long as I have,I know and have seen how most of the other guys train,'cepting maybe the college guys who come in from out of town but that's a whole different thing.I've raced against alot of guys in 5k's and 5 milers on a Saturday night only to see them hammerin' 8 or more 400 meter reps on a track 2 or 3 days later despite the fact that they will be racing again the next weekend. It's whacked,it's no way to train during racing season.I follow a modified Lydiard program and June through September is my racing season,intervals are done for me,I want to be sharp and fresh for races.I get added confidence knowing that many of the guys I'm trying to catch at the end of race have left their reserves on the track two days ago.
Another thing,and it may seem crazy, but I remind myself that I eat better than the others out there.I'm very careful about what I eat.I see what runners eat and it's garbage,gorging themselves on chicken wings,pizza and junk; getting drunk after races is another thing.Now, maybe it doesn't matter what they eat and do,but I think it does,and I tell myself that I have an edge there,maybe it's psychological but it works for me and that's what counts.
Race day,there are very few races that I get worked up about,maybe that's because I'll be running 16 to 20 races in a 4 month period.It's the same as starting a race,after awhile,with experience, you learn not to go out too hard.For instance, I know that in the first mile of a 5k I'll be running it in 5:10,that's the pace I've conditioned myself to run, what I do gauge in that first mile is how I feel physically,is it a strain to hit that time, am I feeling good? I'm always talking to myself during the race.Telling myself to stay loose,breathe easy,stay calm,not to be taken out of my game plan.There is that point,somewhere in the last mile that I make a conscious effort to pick it up and finish strong, I'm really talking to myself now. I have a tendency to scrunch up my shoulders at this point which is a disaster,drop the shoulders and use those arms like they are an extra pair of legs I say but all the while I'm remembering to stay loose.When I feel like easing up near the end I think how shi..y I'll feel if I do.This works for me every time,I may not finish like I want but at least I know I gave it my best shot.
Post race,after a very slow 10 minute warm-down, I evaluate,then re-evaluate. What did I do right,what could I have done differently,how did I feel? Things like that. I try not to make the same mistake again in the next race.Lastly, I always go out with my wife and a few friends after,no matter how I do.It's a good way to unwind as well as saying thanks to my wife for putting up with me and those nights when I get in late after the long runs. Running can be a selfish activity if you allow it to be. That's not how it should be though,I need her support and encouragement,I wouldn't have done this well for so long without her."