Dr. Greg Wells summed it up perfectly. One of the reasons that Canadian bronze medal swimmer, Brent Hayden, had a fabulous race last week was he was able to immediately adapt his stroke to what he had to do in order to win.
This is something that we often have to deal with as runners. We do the runs, the training, eat properly and rest. But, on race day, you have to be able to adapt – something that I am still learning to do. In my last race, for example, I planned to run a 4:25 kilometer pace. I thought pace, pace, pace through the 10K to my detriment; when it came time for me to surge forward, I didn’t have the psychological strength to do that. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on my speed and my pick-ups – learning to throw them in at any time of a race, not just when I have to and not just for the finish.
The other point that Dr. Wells made was Hayden had to ignore the lactate acid that was building in his swim. As the neurons were firing messages to the brain that they were screaming for oxygen, Hayden continued to soar through the water.
Ignore it? This brought me back a few weeks when Little Ironman first rode his bike with me for 5 miles. That night, going to bed, he said to me, “Do you want to know the truth, Mommy? My legs were getting really tired. But it didn’t matter. I just kept going anyway.”
I kept reminding myself of those comments for the next few days. That Sunday, I carried those words into my 5K race, pulled them out for the last kilometre, and pushed myself into a 2 second PB. So, yes, it can be done, but you have to want it.
Day after day, month after month, we go through the motions of prepping for a race. The physical part is getting easier; now, it’s learning to use my head.
I know I can.