Taking a left at the roundabout, the nerves started to kick in. Initially I was asking myself why? After all it 'was only a Parkrun'. No matter how big the event, whether it's an organised race, a training session, a gentle run or even 'just a parkrun', the pressure we put on ourselves is often the root cause of the 'bottling it' scenario. The moment you get to a start line and begin to think "why am I here? Have I trained hard enough?" No matter how much we prepare ourselves there is always that little voice that likes to play the negative role. The difference today, I was ready for that voice. I had prepared myself for the nagging self doubt to arrive and had control over how I was going to respond.
Continuing along the road leading up to the park, I visualised myself and my yellow band (those of you that attended my presentation will know how important my yellow and is!) my nerves began to calm. I began seeing myself running and feeling comfortable. I reminded myself of where I was four months ago, maybe even five months now. My aim today was to cross that finish line and feel proud that I had ran my first parkrun since coming back from injury.
A short while after arriving we were called to the start line. Without even thinking I positioned myself near the front. For so long now I have naturally taken a back seat but today I decided it was time to start believing in myself and focusing on me. The parkrun is great for being able to run and have people around you. The support and encouragement from others is by far the best out there. In this kind of environment it is easy to start feeling competitive however it is vital we remember that our biggest competition is actually ourselves.
3,2,1, and everyone synchronises their watches. Time to get my head fully in the game. I set off at a decent pace, finding my feet and settling into my stride. The whole time, reminding myself that whatever I achieved would be a success. With each corner, change of direction of terrain, I repeated a positive affirmation to myself. How my Dad will be proud of me, I'm doing better than if I was sat at home, I have no knee pain and am running faster than I have in a long time. Throughout the whole run, I spoke to myself. I didn't allow the little negative voice to speak to me. The important part, it was me in control.
Not to far in front was another runner struggling. It now became my aim to catch him and offer that little supportive edge that parkrun is so widely known for. Knowing the route quite well I was able to hold my pace and catch up to him. Now side my side. "We're almost at the end, where the group of trees are, that's the finish, we've got this!" And we did! Having that small ounce of extra drive I was able to pull on the pace for the final section, my fellow parkrunner following. Approaching the final bend, "just round this corner, we will see the finish." To which I got the reply "Come on then, let's push this last bit." All that was left was 80m of track between us and our finisher token. The stride opened, the arms began to drive the finish line was reached.
Crossing the finish line I knew what I had achieved. What made it even more special was knowing the mental preparation allowed me to have that control over how I responded to emotions. I used my power, my drive, evoked someone else's motivation and together we finished stronger. Today my aim was to finish the parkrun and be proud to be back running. I wanted to be happy crossing the line and feel a sense of achievement. That is what I set out to do. That is what I achieved!
Over the years it has become a lot clearer to me about the importance of mental training as well as physical training. We spend vast amounts making sure we have the right pair of trainers to suit the terrain, the best running watches to track our performance, not forgetting our gym memberships and the occasional trips to a masseuse or physio. What crossed my mind and got me thinking... how much do we actually invest in our mental health? Ask yourself this, you go to the gym and pay good money for it to improve you physically, you pay your physio or massage therapist to help get our bodies back into shape so were at 'full fitness'...But how many of us are actually at 'full fitness'? How many of us have invested into the training of our mind?
I know I have and continue to ensure it is within my training plan. Having said that, it took me hitting a brick wall to decide it was time to make a change to the way I think. Wouldn't it be a better situation to be in if when that brick wall arrived we were actually prepared for it. we had the hammer ready to knock it down so it didn't stop us in our tracks? You wouldn't enter a marathon without being physically prepared? So why do we allow ourselves to not be mentally prepared?
Future Footsteps Coaching and Therapy is equipped with the tools and know how to allow you to have control over the way you respond to negative self talk.
If, having read this you want to find out how I could help you. Please drop by my website, or visit my Facebook page. Or if you are wanting to receive exclusive access to blog posts detailing tips to improve mental preparation, I would be forever grateful if you became a Patron of my page. Whatever you decide is best to help with your mental preparation I will support you. I have been blessed with knowing people within the industry who have helped me along my running journey. It is now my time to pay it back and guide others.
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