by Dr. David Minkoff January 17, 2019 3 min read
Visualize yourself crossing the finish line, looking victorious, with a finish clock in view showing a time you’ve seen only in your dreams.
How can you make this picture one you can frame and hang on the wall rather than only dream about?
Your first step will be to plan your 2019 race schedule. It should be designed using early season races to build your performance for a later-season goal race, that will be the primary focus of your season. Another consideration during this step is to build in plenty of recovery, which should assure that you’re at the top of your game for the ‘A’ race.
That said, to bring your dream to life, the most critical exercise in this 2019 endeavor is to decide if you’re ready to set a “big” goal, which I’m defining here as something that has never been done (e.g. setting a course record) or that you’ve never personally accomplished (e.g. setting a PR).
Can you commit to a goal that requires taking a risk? There’s a chance you may not succeed. You’ve never before performed at this level and there’s always the possibility that you’ll do everything right and factors out of your control will interfere. If you don’t succeed, are you emotionally prepared to accept the experience as part of the learning process to be used in your next attempt at the goal rather than view it as a failure and give up on the goal?
We often speak of what it takes to become successful, in any field. We’re familiar with concepts such as grit, determination and focus. However, I believe that committing to a “big” goal requires even more.
If you’ve thought this through and are ready to take that challenge and make 2019 a year you’ll always remember for having the guts and courage to try, here are a few of my thoughts on shooting for big goals:
There will likely be data telling you that it’s not possible. There might be external factors that could derail you. And there are sure to be people either saying or thinking, ”Seriously?” Block all that out. The only thing that’s important is what you believe and you’ve gotta believe you can do it, with all your heart and soul.
There will be plenty of tough work ahead which may present opportunities for being negative and feeling like perhaps you’ve taken on too much. But it was a well-thought-out decision and that’s what you have to remember. Worrying about whether you should or you shouldn’t is a total waste of time and energy. You’re doin’ it!
As your body gets stronger and faster, it will function best when you get your head out of the way and let your body do what you’ve been training it to do. Let “feel” be your guide. Relax, which will allow you to use all your energy for good performance rather than wasting it on thinking about the pain or needing to push harder or if you should slow down, etc.
There’s an oft-used adage: Champions are made when no one is watching. This is something that is key to understand during this venture. On race day there will be cheering crowds and the exhilaration of the finish line. But between now and then, there’s going to be plenty of just plain hard work. Think of each exhausting training session as one more step in setting up the perfect race day scenario rather than as drudgery.
One of the most important things that this tough training will do is ingrain in you the understanding of how intensely and for how long you’re able to sustain a certain level of performance and the confidence to go for it. On race day you’ll know exactly what you’re able to do. Regardless of the pain level, you can continually reassure yourself: I’ve done this before. Trust your training.
It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Many a record-setting performance has not gone smoothly, but the athlete kept his head and calmly pulled things together. Go in with a well-thought-out race plan and hold onto it for dear life when the wheels threaten to come off. Look at a “bad patch” as simply that – it’ll pass. Always keep that picture in your mind …the one you’re going to frame and hang on your wall.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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