Trust your training
Carolyn Green | Thursday, October 25, 2012
Running is relatively low key – all you need is a pair of shoes (or no shoes, but that’s another article), and you can run almost anywhere in the world. Just talk to Notre Dame senior and last year’s Holy Half champion Ian Montijo, who often ran at 5 a.m. in the desert heat of Oman last summer. One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is by running its streets, and I try to take part in a different race whenever I am home from school. This fall break, I participated in the Run Like Hell Half Marathon, a Halloween-themed race in my hometown of Portland, Ore.
Having experienced an injury that put me out for a significant period of time at the beginning of my training, I was more nervous than usual for this race. With accolades for being one of the best running cities in the country comes more competition, and I found myself standing at the starting line with the young and elite 20-somethings of Portland’s thriving running community. A guy standing next to me, acting as if he was just out for a morning jog, casually told another participant that he planned to run “fives.” As in five-minute miles, and a Run Like Hell of a lot faster than I planned to go.
The start of the race was delayed inexplicably, and, as we waited for further information from race officials, a cold rain began to fall. Everyone was pretty antsy by the time we received word to move to the starting line. I felt particularly sorry for the man wearing nothing but a Batman Speedo and a cape, who looked especially uncomfortable.
I had read in various running magazines about the importance of mantras as a tool for easing race jitters, but I had never utilized a mantra before now, besides maybe imagining my high school cross country coach yelling at me from the sidelines, or picturing the free bagels I would receive at the end of the race. However, a race such as the Holy Half Marathon is a long time to be alone with your thoughts, and, if those thoughts are all negative, you have more worries than trying to remember whether or not you applied Body Glide that morning.
So, when the gun finally went off, I took a deep breath, focused ahead and told myself: “Trust your training.” I eased into my desired pace, and even found myself taking the time to enjoy the stunning views of the city along the course. When my iPod died about halfway through the race, I did not worry about losing my crutch, but considered its failure an opportunity to become more self-aware and keep repeating my new mantra.
“Trust your training” is a good phrase to consider in all areas of life: before an exam, walking into a job interview, traveling to a new country and on a first date, (well, in that case, maybe trust what your Mama taught you), but it is by no means the only mantra a runner should use during a race. Try: “Stay steady,” “Be smooth,” “Focus here,” or “Keep calm and run on.” I saw a sign during the half marathon that said: “Believe with all your heart that you will become what you were meant to be.” A little long, but good nonetheless.
Thanks to the power of positive thinking and some timely down hills, I finished the race strong and with a smile on my face. I gave a high five to Waldo (I had been wondering where he was), and then took a few laps around the block to cool off and recollect.
Telling myself “Trust your training” had worked, and deciding to make a repeated mantra a permanent part of my race strategy. Try repeating a mantra, yourself – yes, when you are out on a run, but also when you are stressing over homework, applying for internships or trying to navigate your bike through rush hour in front of DeBartolo. Everyone’s mantra will be different, but if it focuses on the positive, it will be effective. Maybe we should find out what the football players are telling themselves … it seems to be working.
Carolyn Green is the student director of the Holy Half Marathon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.