Observations Vs. Self-Criticism
At first glance, observations can look like excuses. But excuses tend to be those things that tear you down. Observations should not carry the weight of negativity.
- Observation: The weather was hotter or colder than expected?
- Negative self-talk: I should have been able to cope.
- Observation: Aid stations weren't well equipped?
- Negative self-talk: I should have brought my own Gu and my water bottle.
- Observation: I had muscle cramps.
- Negative self-talk: I didn't hydrate enough before the race or I didn't warm up right.
See how the race is no longer fun? See how you are not actually reflecting on the race and looking for ways to improve, but instead only tearing yourself down for no gain?
Does this mean we don't get frustrated with a result? No. If I have a bad race I allow myself an hour to be grumpy, then I get over it. And if I honestly feel like I finished proud, an hour is more time than I need.
Of course acts of a mischievous fitness god cannot be avoided but some observations can, and should, be analyzed. If a problem was that the course was more hilly than you expected, then it would be fair to look at that and take responsibility for not being prepared. The course profile was probably online, you could have planned better.
Where to Find Your Pride
Look at that same list of observations through the finish proud philosophy and all your negative self-talk can easily become points of pride. The race was hotter than expected but I fought through it and finished hard. The aid stations weren't well equipped but I trusted my training and took what I could get. My calf cramped up and I stretched that bad boy out and got back out there. I even limped for a while because it wouldn't loosen up. That's hardcore.
Now your race is a positive experience.
Dealing with the issues that arise over the course of a race, while holding the umbrella of "I Will Finish Proud" over everything you do, will keep you calm in moments of stress, and will help you fight through the hard parts, when the pain hits home and your body and brain start begging you to stop.
You accept and trust that you're pushing as hard as you can, you continue to push, and, in the end, no matter what your final time is, whether it be faster or slower than your goal, you'll know that you put everything you had into the race. You'll hold your head up as you cross the line. And when your friends ask you later how the race went, you'll be able to tell them you couldn't be more proud of how hard you worked.
And you can't ask for much more than that.
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