I read a piece of advice on tinamuir.com about writing a letter to yourself providing the advice you would tell a friend if they were having pre-race nerves. So, this is my letter to self. The letter is regarding an upcoming local 5K this weekend that I set as a pre-marathon goal race. The pain of a 5K is some kind of special, and I always get more nervous for them than anything over 10 miles. Plus, in the back of my mind, I want to place well, and maybe PR, and maybe break a time barrier that has always been slightly out of reach…, and so I spiral down the mental path of too much pressure about a race that should just be a test of my ability at this specific point in life, AND more importantly should just be FUN!!
It is so exciting that your race is finally coming up this weekend and you can see how well your training is working! You’ve worked very hard to regain all the running fitness (and then some) that was focused on other, more important things last year. You are now in the best running (maybe even any) shape that you have ever been in! Yay for that no matter how fast you can race a 5K! 5Ks are difficult and its hard to make even small gains in time for the short distance, but you can feel the fitness in yourself.
You’ve seen the increases in pace over the last few weeks with the added 5K specific workouts. I mean you ran a 6:36 mile as the final mile of a 4-mile tempo run without being at max effort. That felt pretty awesome, didn’t it?!?! Less than a year ago you couldn’t run a single mile under 7 minutes, let alone one after three other hard miles. Just look how far you have come in one year!
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, and don’t worry about who is going to show up, and whether there is a chance to place overall. These things are out of your control, so stop wasting energy on them. The race is your opportunity to see just how far you’ve come and provide an idea about how far you can go. Push yourself to see what you can do, no need to waste energy on strategies to compete with other people, as that will not necessarily show you all that you can do, but will allow others to control you and your race. The goal should be to execute your race for your best time, and the race results and the items out of your control will fall where they will.
Don’t doubt your abilities. You can do hard things. The race will hurt, but you can push through. Embrace the hard to see how far you have come and discover the impacts of the training plan. Think of the training plan as the hypothesis of a big science experiment and the race as the results of that experiment. After the race, you can draw conclusions and develop a new hypothesis/training plan. You would be selling yourself and the training plan short if you don’t just go out a run the best race you can run. This is your chance to show off the abilities of the plan and the work you have put into following the plan. The race is the finish line. The hard part is done, and now is the time to SHINE, celebrate, and feel the results of the work payoff. Go out there, be smart, and run the race that the training has made you capable of and that the conditions of the day will allow (whatever the results may show)!
Your BIGGEST fan!