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In almost every moment of my life, there is some element of mental preparation for a race: waiting in line at a grocery store, driving to a trailhead, lying down for bed, stretching and foam rolling—it can all be used as mental training. I use these times to envision patience, to think about enduring pain, to imagine pushing harder. Of course, the best mental preparation occurs while actually training, i.e. when redlining during a hill workout, or when trying to keep it easy during a recovery run. All of this is a way-of-life for me, because even if my next race is two months out, my mind is subconsciously preparing for it. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m constantly verbalizing my mental whereabouts. That’d be annoying. No one cares. In keeping my mental training to myself, I’m able to develop a close, very confident relationship with my mind. Come race day, I believe that I am a mental machine of impenetrable greatness.
In the moments before a race, my mind blanks out pretty significantly. All of my training has been done. I don’t want to waste an iota of energy on stress, worry of the unknown, the course, my competitors…I just want to be. It’s almost counterintuitive to how I live non-race moments (the majority of my life), but that’s what makes racing so special. It’s a time of complete trust in everything you’ve done up until that moment before the gun goes off. You won’t have to pine for motivation when you hit a low; you’re brain should automatically go to the times you’ve envisioned this moment and work through the tough spot just as you’ve done many times before. This is home-brewed athletic intelligence at its finest!