The fluttering of fear in your stomach like that of a caged butterfly. Mounting anticipation like the carbonation as you shake a can of your favorite soda. The waves of nerves and excitement in turmoil like a raging storm on the sea.
We’ve all felt at least one of these emotions, or even a combination of the three, from time to time. Whether it’s on the way to a job interview, the first day of classes, a first date, or at the starting line of a race, the feeling of fear, anticipation and nervousness are ones that everyone can relate to.
While struggling along on one of my runs this past week, I let my mind wander to other things in hopes that the miles would fly by and I would find myself back at the highschool to finish my workout. In doing so, I came across this idea. Or more so, remembered these aforementioned feelings. Brought back by listening to the pounding of my footsteps and the rhythm of my breathing, I was reminded of track season and racing around that oval, constantly being chased. Or chasing, for the most part.
As a distance runner across the board by doing both cross country and distance track, I stick to the longer races. Meaning that in the spring I race the 3200m (2 mile), 1600m (mile), and 800m. Oh, and the occasional leg of a 4x400m relay near the end of the meet that our coach says will “keep us fast.” My training is geared towards building endurance while still doing speed work to develop “quick twitch” that help with a shorter foot turnover and faster times. Using the three-month winter break between cross country and track, I’ve been focusing on a strong base of easy miles and building strength through weight workouts. It’s a time to stay relaxed and enjoy the running … not dwell on the clenched knot of nerves sitting in my stomach whenever I hear the words “intervals” or “track.”
Thinking back on this past spring, there’s a lot of aspects that I’d like to change coming into my junior season starting at the end of February. I ran the 3200m all the way to state to finish 9th for the second year in a row, which (of course) is one place off of the medaling on the podium. Even for what seems like a strong end to my season, I trained and ran each race that year with a horrible attitude. With such a bad outlook, I prevented myself from reaching goals I had set, as well as limited what I would end up actually running. I let the doubts of a good comeback track season, after missing cross country because of a stress fracture, and frustration from being sidelined for so long, overcome my plans to become a stronger runner and better teammate.
Last weekend, I ran the White Elephant 5 mile in Olympia. My first road race of the year, and first race since the state cross country meet in November. It’s a good community race and has a fun gift exchange when you pass through the finish chute. A scenic loop, one grueling hill, and plenty of competition from around the area … if you’re wanting to race it that is! I went into Saturday morning half-awake after a nap on the way there, sore from a weight workout the day before, and dreading the idea of a slower finish than last year. That being so, it was the best feeling in the world to come across the finish in 33:11. A full 2:46 seconds faster than last year. Woohoo!! Before you get too impressed, remember that last year I was coming off of a stress fracture and only had a month of training under my belt Either way, a PR is a PR … :-)
With such a strong cross country season, it’s been easy to stay positive about my winter training. Two months later of running alone on the same routes week after week, I’ve begun to get slightly discouraged. With the thrill of a new PR, I’m now looking forward to track season. I’ve come into the mindset that with a positive attitude and a good work ethic, the isn’t anything you can’t do. So instead of glumly staring out the window on the way to a race and imagining how I’ll be dying out on lap 5, or letting myself doubt what I can do before stepping foot on the track … I’m going to change things up.Let the butterflies go, crack open the pop can, and set sail on the sea. I accept the feelings of fear, anticipation, nerves, and excitement that come with racing and the upcoming track season. I’m ready for a fresh start and to see what I can do with my new attitude. Getting through tough workouts, hard races, disappointing times, and letting doubt creep back into my mind may be hard to deal with at first … but “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” :-)
Until next time,