Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Either You're Going To Die Or You're Not. There's Nothing You Can Do - Dealing With Pre-Race Nerves

This is a reprint of one of the best posts I have seen about pre-race Nerves.  It is from Don Kern, director of The Grand Rapids Marathon.  If you have not run the marathon, I suggest you think about it.  Smaller than Detroit and of course Chicago, yet it is incredibly personable. You certainly won't be running alone. Check out the reviews on MarathonGuide if you want more info. The course is a great mix of terrain.  It is the site of my Boston Qualifier, and my favorite Shirt Color of all.  My daughter loves to wear it to bed as pajamas.

Re-Freakin'-lax!
I've told this story before, but I think it might help at this point:

A good friend was going to run her first marathon a few years ago.  I had referred her to the same hotel we were staying in, and when we went to her room, her fiance answered the door.  She was sitting on the bed with a pillow in her lap.  Her head down.  She was crying.

Too much stress.  All the things to remember.  All the advice, the coaching, the books, the "experts" words swirling around in her head.  Combined with the next day's venture into the unknown she was completly overwhelmed.

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I jumped off a bridge in New Zealand.  Don't worry.  I was connected to a big rubber band.  As I stepped off the platform into thin air, I discovered something in the next half-second.  There was nothing I could do.  Either I was going to die or I wasn't.  After that, my mind totally changed modes and I was focused on the experience, the fun, the adrenaline, the sensations.  IT WAS GREAT!! 
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I hugged my friend, told her to relax.  All that advice you've been listening to at this point is just extra noise.  Either you've trained enough, or you haven't.  It's too late to worry about that now.  We went out to eat, relaxed, and enjoyed the moment.  I saw her at the starting line, still a little nervous, but enjoying it.  On the out-and-back course, I saw her, still on her way out, a couple miles behind me as I was heading back.  She was smiling.  Enjoying.  I crossed the road and gave her a big smooch.  She was having a great time. 

Later as she crossed the finish line, I grabbed a medal from a race volunteer and put it around her neck.  The tears of the day before were replaced with joy.  Her first marathon. 

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