by Gina Shell
You can more easily relax when you eliminate outside distractions. This condition is true for any sport. Why do you think NFL teams stay in a hotel before a game (even a home game)? They stay in a hotel to try to stay as far away as possible from anything that can be a distraction from the game. Similarly, a distance runner needs to focus on the road ahead and the finish line. Worry about your race, follow your race day plan, and keep out all distractions. The element of concentration is what separates the good athletes from the great ones.
Elite runners succeed, because they are totally in tune with their bodies. Not that we are all elite runners, but we need to be in tune with our own bodies in order to achieve our goals in the race.
If you are not concentrating, then you are more than likely thinking of other activities (called dissociating). A runner must be careful, because at this point they are not listening to their bodies and could become injured. Examples of such injuries that can be caused by not listening to your body are stress fracture, heatstroke, and even running into the path of a car.
Concentration must begin before the start of a race. Some runners avoid warming up with others, preferring to think of the upcoming race at hand. I know in the countless number of races in which I have participated, the warmup was always with just Tammy and Shelley. We had the same focus level and trained together. We knew how to read each other on race day. Finding people who think and train like you can help improve concentration.
Associative thinking (equated with paying attention to your body) increases the runner’s ability to handle the strenuous situations at hand. This thinking will allow you to reach your full potential. Strive to cultivate these habits.
To summarize, one must prepare for the run, discover how your body works, practice instant replay, head for the track, concentrate, and avoid race day distractions totally. Concentration is the key.
by Gina Shell