Don’t be a Debbie Downer on Race Day

by Stephanie on March 1, 2011 · 0 comments

in Races & Recaps

Last Sunday I did a local 4 mile race.  I signed up late, Friday afternoon, and I was excited because just the Sunday before I had finally reached the 7 mile mark in my long runs.  4 miles?  Piece of cake!  Or not.

The race boasted the slowest average pace I’ve had in months.  My 7 mile long run the week before was more than a minute/mile faster and I wasn’t even going for speed!  I had trouble breathing and trouble with the hills, though the hills are less of a surprise.  I’m not so good at those.

There were lots of reasons it didn’t go well for me.  For starters it was overcast and cold (in the 20s).  Parts of the course, mostly paved park paths and residential streets, were snow covered and slick due to the freezing rain the night before. 

The weather wasn’t responsible for my poor performance though.  I was.  I was stressed out and distracted by a problem I was having with a friend over the weekend.  I slept poorly the night before and I woke up with a crick in my neck that made it hurt to look to the left.  I had an all around depressive outlook on life. 

I let the doubts and negative thoughts grab hold of me so tightly that I didn’t even bother trying to shake them off before running.  I ran with the world on my shoulders.  I shied away from make eye contact with the volunteers cheering me on at the turns.  I adamantly refused to be comforted or motivated by my running partner who, despite having the ability to easily pull away from me and sluggish sulk, stayed by me and kept through the whole hellish 4 miles.

After the race I was just as bad.  Complaining about my slow time.  Thinking that I would never be a real runner.  Not engaging in any post-race festivities.  Just standing around sporting a frown.  It was pathetic!

I could have tried harder.  I could have actively chosen or at least made an effort to cheer up, think positive thoughts, and have fun.  I just didn’t want to.  I wanted to sulk and be sad.  Everyone’s got a right to do that from time to time.  Sometimes reveling in the mood is the only way to process what’s causing it.

Just don’t do it on a race day.  Choose to shake off your distractions, worries, and despair.  Put other issues on the shelf and focus on making all your hard work pay off.  You paid for the race and if you don’t have your head in the game and a positive attitude, it won’t be a good experience.  And others don’t need to see you sulk.  The volunteers, coordinators, participants, and spectators all deserve better.

So do you.

(pic by iestyle)

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