This post/episode was originally published in September of 2016. The post/show notes are simply copy/pasted from the original post, but the podcast audio is a new take on the same subject.
Are you a control freak?
If we are honest, there are several components of our training/racing that we have absolutely no control over, no matter how much we may try.
And for a lot of runners, control freaks or not, that can be an issue.
If you find yourself on edge leading up to a race, do yourself a favor and take a deep breath.
No matter how much you want to be in control of every facet of your race, that’s impossible. And stressing over your lack of control is only going to make the situation worse.
Some Things are Impossible to Control
Giving up control, no matter how Type A you may be, is never easy.
I’m not asking you to give up control of everything associated with your race.
Instead, I’m asking you to give up trying to control the things that are beyond your control.
You might think you’re in control of the time you’ll finish your race.
There are so many factors at that you have no influence over such as the weather, the topography of the course, or a sudden bout of GI distress all of which can impact your finishing time by several minutes or more.
Worrying about your finishing time before (and during) your race is foolhardy. Let it go.
Runners are a good group of people, but I don’t know that I’ve run too many races where another runner didn’t do something that impacted my race.
Typically it’s a complete accident, but I’ve had runners throw full water cups on me, stop running right in front of me, bump me from the side, and a whole lot of other “inconveniences”.
And you know what? I’ve probably inadvertently done all of those things to other runners at some point in time.
It happens, and the more runners there are in a race, the more likely it will happen multiple times.
You simply can’t control the actions of thousands of runners during a race. So don’t try.
The only thing I can guarantee you about racing is that something will almost always happen that you never could have seen coming.
You miss a turn and end up off course. A blister pops up. You catch a cramp. You get dehydrated.
None of these things you can plan for, and none of them you can hope to prevent by trying to control everything going on with you and around you.
Don’t spend hours and days before the race trying to make sure you have a plan in place for every possible scenario.
You’ll overlook something, I promise.
So when something unexpected happens, do your best to roll with the punches and just keep going.
Focus on the Things Within Your Control
Instead of increasing your race anxiety because you’re worried about things that are beyond your control, focus on that which you actually can do something about.
What are the thoughts going through your head before and during a race?
Talking positively to yourself may sound a little woo-woo, but it absolutely has an impact on how you feel and how you run.
There are enough haters in the world, even within the running world, and the last thing you need is to be guilty of hating on yourself.
You are in control of the thoughts that pass through your mind, so make them good ones.
You may not be in complete control of your finishing time of any particular race, but you are certainly in control of your effort throughout the race.
When the going gets tough, are you going to give up or are you going to keep going?
It’s your call.
If you’re not going to have fun, why are you even out there to begin with?
Sure, there are going to be moments when you’re miserable and all you want to do is be finished. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun.
You can still crack a joke to the folks at the aid station. You can still give a kid a high five. And you can still laugh at a clever sign.
Whether your race is going well or whether the wheels have fallen off, you can still be having fun.
If I can still have fun walking the last 5k while dehydrated and dealing with a legitimate case of heat exhaustion at Running With the Bears, I’m pretty sure you can still have fun when things start to suck for you as well.
Easier Said Than Done
Letting go of the things you can’t control is easier said than done, I get it.
But if you work at it, over time it will get easier.
And you might be surprised to find that the more you let go of the things that are beyond your control, the better you’ll do in races and the more fun you’ll have as well.
Funny how that works out…
Are You a Bit of a Control Freak? What is One Area of Your Running that You Need to Work on Relinquishing Control?
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