A Letter to the Athletes I am Coaching…

as their A races approach:

I thought this was a very good article on dealing with race highs and lows: Chrissie Wellington on Race Highs and Lows

I was fortunate this weekend to have mostly highs at Ironman Louisville. There were a few low points in the marathon (the quads were very painful the last 10 miles) and my thought process works like this:

1) Is what I am experiencing true or is my brain faking me out?

2) How should I adjust my nutrition right how? More or less calories? Caffeine?

3) How should I adjust my hydration right now? More or less?

4) How can I adjust my temperature right now? Dump water? Ice in hat and bra?

5) Where is my focus (should be the next aid station only).

6) How long should I fast walk at the next aid station (I start with 30″ walk breaks and increase if needed to a maximum of 1′).

7) Are my heart rate and pace aligned despite my perceived effort?

When all else fails I resort to blackmail. I think, “Sure you can walk it in but imagine how long it will take and how much more your quads will hurt.”

Finally, I remember that my brain can deceive me. The brain’s job is to preserve the organism BUT it gives me a huge buffer. Training helps me to learn how to close the gap on my buffer of self preservation without crossing over the line into annihilation (or the medical tent).

After my race, as is tradition, we go back to the finish line to watch people achieve their dreams. What is most interesting is the people who have walked most the marathon suddenly find a second wind when they approach the fans and hype of the finish line. Many had great speed, good form and a huge smile. They were able, when it truly counted, to ignore their brain and run. It is amazing to watch.

As you consider your upcoming race, think carefully about what you can do to respond to your lows. We all have them but the people that accomplish their goals apply an effective strategy to bridge each valley and climbing every mountain….

Full Focus, Full Force, Full FE


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