Scenario… It is race day; conditions are ideal, competition is perfect, and most importantly you are coming off of a great phase of training and you are more than physically ready to put down a solid performance. As I like to put it, the moons are aligned and it is time to run fast! So you step up to the starting line thinking you are ready to roll, the gun goes off… BANG! Fast forward to the finish, you cross the line in disgust and confusion as you perform WAY under what you were shooting for. We have all been there… What the hell happened?!?!?
Just because you were physically ready to race, doesn’t mean you were mentally ready.
Before addressing this mental issue, let’s look at the mechanism behind muscle fatigue. In relatively simple terms; it is a decline in the ability of the working muscles to generate force at the rate they are currently contracting. As a result our working muscles cross into an anaerobic state (exercise state no longer using oxygen as a fuel source) and consequently have an onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) which results in fatigue. This is commonly referred to as “Heavy Legs”, “Monkey on the Back”, or my personal favorite, “BOOTY LOCK.”
Obviously something we do through training is to try and delay this onset of fatigue. Regardless of your fitness level if you want to reach your potential in a race you are going to experience this “booty lock” phenomenon in the latter part of the race.
So you know the fatigue is coming, how do you prepare for it…
Simply put you need to get mentally tougher! Instead of negative thoughts like “this hurts”, “my legs are gone”, “I feel horrible way too early in this race” you need to EMBRACE THE FATIGUE!
Think… “I can push harder”, “I want it more than him/her”, “Make it hurt!”, or whatever phrase works for you. Recite this phrase during training leading up to the race and visualize yourself pushing through that notorious wall of fatigue.
So next time the “moons align” on race day, instead of being that jittery nervous runner wondering who else is going to show up for the race… You be the one who turns heads as you strut through your warm-up in your cool shades displaying the slightest of grins that says I am ready to MAKE IT HURT today.
Then when that monkey hops of your back during that the ladder phase of the race, you are ready to push through that wall and continue on to that performance you dream of...