So I broke down and subscribed to FloTrack Pro not long ago, mostly for the 'Driven' series that I find interesting and motivating; and so happened upon one on Andrew Wheating. While he is fun to watch and seems like a good overall guy, there is little I can relate to him on: he is tall and lanky, a dude, and is an Olympian in the 800 meters. Of course, I find none of those really relateable. I did happen to watch his video posted sometime this spring (a pretty good one, for those interested) and some things he said actually resonated with my experiences.
While on location for interview and the cameras followed him to his swim workout for cross training, he spoke about his early success, subsequent setbacks, and how he spent a season "racing afraid". Obviously, if you're not 100% that you should be in a race-for whatever reason, it is hard to be courageous enough to truly engage in a race. After watching the interview, it struck me how much I have toed the line afraid. Afraid of being disappointed. Afraid of breaking down. Afraid of, well, just fear itself. And most of the time totally unaware of that fact. See, and y'all thought I was smart!
Besides some ambitious time goals I have in the upcoming seasons, one of the biggest things is to not be afraid. I will never be 100% ready physically, or at least rarely. But I can be 100% mentally ready most if not all of the time. It does not mean that I will always race my best, that I will be positive the whole time, or that things will always just flow. But being prepared, willing to put myself out there, unashamed of where I am, and ready to give it my best that day I can do. Of that I am confident of. And with that mindset, racing confidence and letting my natural ability and my training take over. Unafraid.
The best place to start practicing this is in training. Each run lately I have been simply going through my warm up drills (which takes the edge off of the 'what if's' quite a bit), I start the watch and simply focus on a predetermined aspect: hip placement, cadence, intensity level or lack thereof. Often I make mental notes of "what's clicking" that particular day. On hard/Alter-G days, I simply look at the prescribed pace and go no further than that. That is my assignment, and I am completely safe hammering away. Who cares if I get tired? Nothing's going to happen!
I have talked about a lot of changes physiologically going into the next season, but the sport psych needs to work on her mental game as well. I see myself as strong, capable, and well-trained, that will subsequently follow. Fear is a thief of confidence, uncertainty a robber of joy.
Stay the course.