Monday, February 20, 2006

HERE'S WHAT I'D DO

Have I mentioned that snowboard cross is my new favorite event, even though I’ve never been on a snowboard? Here’s what I’d do if I made it to the 2010 Olympics. I do all my preliminary runs wearing the baggy USA outfit. Then, just before the start of the final race I’d break out a sleek spandex racing outfit. Don’t you think I’d have a huge aerodynamic advantage? Either that or we throw Bode Miller into a snowboarder’s baggy outfit and send him down the mountain. He can’t do much worse.

Sometimes when I read message boards and find something I like, I’ll copy and past it into an email and then just save it in my “drafts” folder. Friday I was going through that folder and came across a post I thought I’d share. I can’t remember where I found it, probably Beck’s old Donnybrook. It was written by a guy you’ve probably never heard of, Mike Platt who, I believe, is now a masters runner in New York. Anyway, since I don’t have anything exciting to write about other than an easy 10 miles this morning, I thought I’d share it.

One of the keys to performing well is eliminating anxiety. I have no fear of failure and no fear of success; both will happen. I do not get embarrassed. What happens happens and it matters little to nothing to me if others don't approve.

I do not train to beat people. I do not go into races determined to beat a particular runner or runners. I do use competitors as barometers, but no malice is involved. This way, when someone passes me, I am not demoralized because of harboring ill will; my concentration is not broken by negative emotion.

I really love to race, and I remind myself of this. When I am in a highly competitive mode this is especially true. Often, during difficult segments of my training, I recall times I wasn't racing and how during such periods I really seemed to be missing something; I recall race days and how I enjoy every minute of them.

I have performed well in other sports. I have very good recall of the feelings that I had - the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the noises - that surrounded very successful events. I spend a lot of time visualizing those feelings. I visualize the preparation that I had before good performances and I emulate this as best I can.

I make sure that I am training correctly. I have absolute confidence that proper training brings results. Sometimes the results don't come on the exact day we expect they will, but they do come.

I try to remain relaxed. Bad workouts don't bother me; they come and go. A new day is a new day and I wake up believing in breakthroughs.

I have a firm belief that the body is much like the brain. It's said that each of us uses only a small percentage of our brainpower, and I believe that about our bodies. The trick is releasing this power.

I also believe in stories such as women lifting cars off their children. This can be done; I know it can.

I believe that some sick people can augment their own curative processes with the correct attitude; maybe by only a small percentage, but a small percentage can make a huge difference in this sport. With that in mind, I try to visualize physical recovery processes occurring.

I do not expect bad things to happen. Bad races are flukes, and good races are not - good races are supposed to happen.

I visualize the discomfort of racing and how I am able put it aside in very good races. When the discomfort hits in a race, I am therefore prepared to deal with it. I visualize a controlled but relaxed form of aggression. I practice this in certain workouts. This does not mean that I train like a crazed animal, refusing to acknowledge pain; instead, I try to remain relaxed yet maintain my intensity during workouts that are "up-tempo" or on off-days.

My goals are clear in my mind and I remind myself daily that each run contributes to these goals. In contrast, there have been times I have trained well but have had no goals other than to go to races and have a good time. This can sometimes be a problem at this stage of my running. I know that regaining the form I had as a twenty-something just will not happen, so I tend to race for fun and not necessarily for accomplishment. At times I had no goals or direction; what's different now is that I have clear goals, a true desire for a particular result. I tilt the scales a little more toward accomplishment than toward fun. I still have fun - just not to the point of degrading my training or racing.

When I am serious, I make certain I do the little things that are important.

I visualize and verbalize; I have inner conversations with myself that put all of the above things together. It is almost a daily meditation or prayer. I am training right, I have a goal, I know that I have had breakthrough performances in the past and that I can still have "relative breakthroughs." I am serious, I am having fun, and I savor the moments that I am training and racing. Very few people can experience what we as runners and racers experience: having a great workout, the excitement of race day from the minute we wake up until the minute the gun goes off. The thrill of be able to run and race like a deer; the ability to lift the car off of the baby. These are all things that I keep processing, almost as a form of self-hypnosis, on a daily basis.

I let these things fill me. Anything can happen, and I am ready.

That probably counts as the quote of the day, but I’ll add this too:

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” Priscilla Welch

8 comments:

Christine said...

I recently became infatuated with SBX, until it broke my heart over Jacobellis's backside method grab. Oh well, she's still totally stoked.

Chad Austin said...

Christine, now we're talking. You got SBX, backside method grab and stoked all rolled into one comment. This may be my transition from running blog to snowboarder blog. Seth Wescott is my new idol.

TriSaraTops said...

Great post--I love it! Thanks!

D said...

I'm in awe of those SBXers!

Great post!

Just12Finish said...

Good idea with the spandex. I would shave your head as well ... no need to lose precious seconds with your curly locks sticking out of your helmet and causing extra turbulence. The young'uns won't know what hit them!

E-Speed said...

great job on the 400+ for the month! Hopefully it pays off come race season!

Chad Austin said...

Thanks guys. Hmm, shaving my head, good idea, Rich. Maybe I'll be bald by 2010 and won't have to worry about it.

Yvonne said...

Haha, your comment about the sleek snowbaord outfit made me laugh because I've had many a debate with people since these olympics started, about why on earth they wear such baggy clothes. Have they tried to be more aerodynamic? Surely even a little change might help? It seems like other sports are more concerned with being the best they can be and snowboarding is more about looking 'cool' - even at the highest levels!