This weekend I did the duathlon. It was empowering, tiring, and I didn’t improve my time all that much over my last go at it a few years ago. But I did come in 34th out of 38 women. It was someone else’s turn to be last, and I’m never going to look back. I now have a thing for this event, this course. And next year I’m going to attack it and come in way higher on the list.
In the meantime I learned something about the State of Larissa as of August 7, 2006. I am not ready. I have about 15 days left until my big relay race and I am, frankly, afraid.
It’s not that my body can’t run far or fast enough, because it can. And it’s not that I won’t finish, because I will. I’m a finisher. In fact, during the second 5K run of the duathlon I found my head talking to my body like it was a three-year-old child. “Well, if you don’t want to run then you’ll have to walk the whole thing and it will take longer and you’ll be embarrassed. Those are your choices.”
No, it’s not a physical fear. It’s that I haven’t done the mental training it’s going to take to finish well and to have a good time. I want to wake up the morning of my first leg and feel excited, exhilarated, ready to warm up and then attack Leg 12 of the Hood to Coast. But I’m afraid it’s going to be a different scenario: waking up with stomach pains that grip harder every time I think about letting down my team. It’s the first time my slowness is not only going to affect me and my inner-three-year-old. This time two whole vans full of swift and lovely mamas are counting on me.
What to do?
1. Practice mental training when I’m not running.
Realbuzz.com reports there are three areas in which mental relaxation can improve running — basically before, during, and after. The site advocates sitting down quietly and visualizing running relaxed and well, stopping to visualize each key part of the race. For me that means the start of each of my legs, the big hill on 39th Street right after Sarah’s house, or the exciting hand-off of the sweaty wristband to Hau when I finish each section. I also plan to visualize easily falling asleep even if I’m in the van and excited.
2. Gather more tools for while I’m running.
Years ago I learned from dragon boat racing coach Stephanie Fedak to “change the channel” whenever I think I can’t go on. She teaches sprint paddlers to focus on a single part of their stroke — say, the reach only, or the pull only — for a certain number of strokes. Next time I run I’m going to start thinking of ways I can apply this to running.
3. Be thankful I can run and enjoy the feeling.
I’ve read about this in so many places, there isn’t just one link to share. I just need to remember to enjoy the feelings of my muscles working and revel in the fact that I can run, that I have no limits, and that I live in a body that can do this.
Just writing all this makes me feel less afraid. I’ve got some tools now. Woohoo.
Author by Larissa Brown