Why does it seem training runs require so much effort, yet racing flows so much easier? Is it the crowd? The adrenaline? Or maybe the competition? This was something I pondered while running up my own personal “Heart Attack Hill” for the quadrillionth time last Monday. I came to the conclusion that no matter where I run for practice, it is always extremely familiar territory. There is not one course within reasonable driving distance where every pothole, crack and pebble is not burned into my memory. Even a few races have become tedious after my fifth consecutive year of participation. But this is something that will be corrected with a fresh crop of challenges in 2012.
To get to the root of this issue means addressing one of my favorite topics, the psychology of running. Maybe it was the 86 degree heat or maybe I have way too much time on my hands, but I started to recall some of my finest races over the years. Most have been courses where I have never run and had little, if any, idea what awaited me around the next bend. Have you ever awaken in the morning dreading a particular task that you knew you must face later that day? All the time to think, leading up to the stressful moment, can make you second guess yourself and leave you unsure how to proceed when the situation presents itself. My third grade teacher told me something that has stuck with me for 35 years, “Always go with your first instinct, it’s usually the right one.” Race after race I tweak my strategy only to discover that I need to revert to the first methods that led to some of my great performances of the past.
Running can feel like an entire lifetime squeezed into any random hour of the day. It’s filled with modest victories, Sisyphean struggles, crushing disappointments and sometimes, joy so great it can cause you to weep. But also, like many moments in life, you’re probably better off not knowing what lies around every corner.
Run for fun and race to place everyone.
© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running