I love 80’s music, certain songs come on and instantly I feel compelled to yell horribly off key and bust into what I’d try to call moves. I’m the dork in the car who sings along to the music, jiggling in her seat, and fooling herself into believing the windows are as tinted as a rock-star’s limo. Surely it’s fun and easy to dance like no one is watching, but do you run like no one is watching?
Running is one of those incredibly unique sports that is for the most part solely up to you. You’re in control, the opportunity to succeed and improve is in your hands, the workouts are yours to do or skip, when you step to the line in the end it’s a race between you and yourself. There can be the team aspect of course, running is also one tight community; your teammates and coaches are there for support and guidance but again it comes down to you and those legs. Are you tough enough to run like no one is watching? Are you brave enough to dream like no one is watching?
Pressure. Stress. Nerves. These are all completely normal for races, hard workouts, stepping into a new training group, and plenty of other situations. You want to do well, you have goals you’d like to achieve…you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. You won’t want to look like you don’t belong. You don’t want to publicly fail. You don’t want to fall short of your goals in front of everyone else. That last one is the blaring reason so many can be afraid of setting, or stating, their goals in the first place.
Pressure, stress, and nerves are a few of the biggest hurdles in life and in running. Taken to the extreme they are what cause athletes to have to down bottles of Pepto at the starting line and they are the things that cause runners to just ‘choke.’ BUT they are also a good thing, they indicate you care enough to want to do well and that NOT accomplishing what you set out to do matters to you. In order to use this pressure, stress, and nerves to your benefit you have to ask yourself: Where are they coming from?
* Internal: These stressors are coming from you; you are the driving source behind these feelings. You are the one who feels compelled to put yourself out there, do the work, hit certain times, places, and goals.
* External: Outside sources of stress fall into this category; these are your coaches, parents, friends, teammates, random people in the stands, anonymous commenters on some message board.
* Both: Here is the tricky part, it’s easy to get these two interconnected and so woven together even you have a hard time differentiating where this stress and pressure is coming from. You could be placing extra pressure on yourself because you want to do well for your coach; even though they haven’t said a thing you’re assuming it’s there and then it manifests itself. Conversely maybe your coach really did point blank say things to you and place that pressure there. It’s up to you to figure that out.
Stop and think of your running, your personal goals; then find out WHERE any expectations of yourself are coming from. In the end the driving force needs to be from YOU. Running is too grueling a sport to last if you’re doing it for anyone other than yourself.
Even if there is stress and pressure coming in externally it is again up to YOU to manage it or block it out. Managing it means that most likely at some point you’ll have team goals or a healthy amount of expectations placed on you from a coach or someone who matters; that can be a good thing and propel you to push yourself so long as you channel it in the right manner.
Having a coach or teammate tell you that you can run faster than you think allows you to dream big enough that you aim higher. Having an anonymous commenter say that you suck and will burn out is something to ignore, don’t allow those words to trickle into your thoughts and add unnecessary stress for your next race.
It’s hard to battle nerves and anxieties…but running should be a passion and opportunity for you to watch your own hard work pay off. Ultimately, who really cares if someone in the stands does watch you crash and burn if you have a bad race? Running like no one is watching means that you had the courage to set a goal for yourself, work for it, and line up with the intention to go for it. In every race, run, or workout there is the possibility that you’ll achieve your goal for the day, but there is the chance you’ll fall short. There is always another race, workout, run…YOU can be upset if you missed that goal and use it for motivation to do better next time (learn from the experience) but YOU would be the one relishing if you achieved it.
Are you tough enough to run like no one is watching? Are you brave enough to dream like no one is watching?
1) How do you manage any pressure, stress or nerves associated with running, hard workouts or races?
2) How do you balance having just enough of these coming internally and channel them to propel you to do better and achieve certain goals?
I’ve always loved running myself and if anything always my own toughest critic; but was able to turn my ‘stress’ into excitement to run well and step it up when I got to the line. Tough to explain, but I guess I remained confident in myself and remembered previous workouts to indicate that I was capable of achieving such-and-such goal.
3) When it comes to external pressures; what are some instances where you’ve used that to improve your running and performance? What are some cases where it stood in your way?
I’ve had a couple awesome coaches who believed in me and when they told me I could do so-and-so I trusted them enough to then force myself into believing.