Friday, May 9, 2014

2 weeks to go. The mental preparation


With now 2 weeks to go til the Blackfoot ultra the doubt monsters start creeping in telling me: I didn't get enough mileage in, that little niggle will hurt you on race day, I didn't do enough hills in training, and that I simply am not prepared for the giant task now only 2 weeks away. Every race I have the same thoughts but yet some how the race comes and goes and everything works out just fine. I'm just as guilty as the rest of you. If ultra running really is 90% mental you'd think us ultra runners would have this mental business down to a tee but why is it that at race after race I see runners failing when there bodies still have gas in the tank? How is it that some train less yet show up on race day and rock it?

There are Two studies I read many years ago that made a great deal of sense to me (sorry I couldn't find them online to link them). The first was a study that hooked runners up to Heart rate monitors and asked them to run for 30 minutes. Like clockwork around the 25 minute mark the runners heart rates would rise. The next week the runners were asked to run 60 minutes. The participants ran right passed the 30 minutes without a spike in there heart rate whereas upon around the 55th minute the runners began to fail shown in a rise in there heart rate. The study went on up to two hours and showed linear results which proves that the body will endure what it needs to and no more. This protective mechanism proved very valuable thousands of years ago when calories were sparse and physical conservatism proved smart, one would only divvy out what one would need to survive, any excess would just be egoic. Now of days it's not hard to see we live in a very different world and we do these crazy ultras for sport, not to feed our families. The second study was a simple one that showed a large number of pro Ironman athletes as pathological liars that passed a lie detector test knowing very well they were not telling the truth. Why is this relevant? Simply because to excel in Ironman one must be able to reason the unreasonable. You take Lance Armstrong, the stories told by his fellow riders tell of a man who showed no pain when pain was excessive and would appear childlike and giddy around the idea of workouts that delicately mirrored death. The very idea that a guy could convince himself of a non truth would be invaluable in an endurance sport.

Point is, if your race day plan is to start running knowing very well you will run be fine for the first half and somehow get through the rest, congratulations, you have just created your reality! Just the thought of going out and running at red line for 9 hours and looking forward to it, most people would think I am stupid or dumb and you know what…they're right, but dont tell me that, Im too busy convincing myself of a false truth.
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