For those who have run at least one endurance race - we know about taper. There is more debate about when to taper, how to taper vs the barefoot movement.
This blog article isn't about what to eat, when to run or how much. But, I am going to discuss a topic that is rarely discussed, if ever
Mental Tapering before a big race.
We say it over and over again. Racing is 90% mental. It is the mental fortitude that gets us to lat last mile or so in sheer pain, can't breathe - just to break a PR or get on that podium. I have been there a few times and the old "you can't do this" thoughts come creeping back to me around the last mile. It's a fight I always intend to win.
Your brain is a muscle that must be exercised to learn how to push through those moments of wanting to quit.
So...when you are in physical taper - what do you do to rest your mind? Or do you even think about resting your mind?
Like most racers - this is probably you the night before your race
1. Get your gear ready
2. You double check the gear
3. You triple check your gear (is my chip attached to my shoe?)
4. You go to bed, and you can't sleep - so you get up and check your gear again
5. You still can't sleep so you lay in bed, visualizing your race course.
6. When you do eventually fall asleep - you wake up...often mentally exhausted
Why is that?
The reason you are tired is you have already run your race in your brain! By running through the race in your head the night before - over and and over, your race is already done.
Next time you prepare for a race - find a way to turn off the mind when you go to bed.
Read a book, watch TV, stretch, listen to music - just don't lay in bed and think about every step of your race. I will often do crossword puzzles, read an inspiring book or watch 'Spirit of the Marathon' DVD before I go to bed.
Just as you ensure your legs are rested before a race - make sure your brain is rested, too. Wake up with a SMILE. Keep your brain refreshed and relaxed.
Don't run your race in your head, the night before - you will need your mental power when you run the real deal.
(c) C. Ragsdale 2011
Celebrate Your Finish,
Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Certified Sports Nutritionist, Running Coach & Public Speaker
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