Learn to Love Your Pre-Race Mindsets + Quirks

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Mindset

I have learned something new about myself this week: I am a pre-race future-focusing list-making extraordinaire. This isn’t a new trait, but it is new that I’ve realized it. I don’t mean that I do this after every 5K or weekly race. But heading into a major event like an Ironman or a 100-miler? Yep, the week before, I can and will be found suddenly planning renovations, major work projects, new books, van and wardrobe overhauls—anything to think beyond the finish line. Anybody else?

I’ve decided that this tendency is probably pretty common for two major reasons:

  1.  Pure distraction. My brain can only panic/stress/visualize about a race for so long before it needs a new target, and day-to-day living isn’t nearly interesting enough to fit the bill.
  2. A ‘new year new me’ mentality / the clean slate feeling. Finishing a big race, especially if it’s the last one of the season, is the athlete’s version of New Year’s in a lot of ways.

So, all that said, what’s my advice? LEAN IN, and LIST. Do NOT take a wild new action, or re-decide anything about your race, or make any life-altering decision this week if possible. Take good notes, then when your race is over, come back to them and see what ideas are reasonable and what (ahem, picking up crocheting while also renovating a bathroom with zero experience) don’t really make sense.

What I’m noticing this week as I head towards my biggest offseason ever (which sounds silly, but it does come at the end of a 100, 50 and 80-miler from February to now, and frankly, I’m ready to not feel like I have an event to get ready for) is that the things that are popping up as ‘to-dos’ are surprisingly good ideas, like a faucet has been turned on for the first time in a while. It’s a little annoying to be mid-run and have an idea for reconfiguring office furniture for better podcasting because part of me wants to get to all of this stuff RIGHT NOW. While I can’t do anything about that idea right now, I can write it down, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

However, there’s a fine line between letting yourself get inspired and start thinking beyond the race, and getting distracted, whether subconsciously or not. It would be easy to start taking some action steps on these new projects I’m thinking about, these changes I want to make, these makeover montages that I’m turning over in my mind.

That’s why I am trying to avoid action at all costs: I realize that my positive trait of getting moving on stuff can just as quickly shift into a negative trait, and if left to my own devices, I’d be at Home Depot right now, rather than trying to get a bit ahead on work since we leave tomorrow to start the trek to the race.

And finally, I’m reminding myself that at 1PM on Friday, when the whistle blows, it’s not time to think about redecorating or a new book idea. It’s time to race.

Besides—while it’s tempting to wish the race was over already or that I could just skip it (surely I’m not the only one who gets into this state of mind on race week) when I really think about it, without the race, there is no fresh start or new year-styled vibe. I need the race to happen before the rest of life can begin.

All of this is to simply say, if you’re anything like me and find yourself suddenly wildly distracted with every other facet of your identity on race week, that’s OK and completely understandable. And to a great extent, it’s positive: It shows what you’re excited about for after your race. Just don’t let those feelings of excitement overpower your excitement for the race you’ve been working so hard towards. This spurt of creativity and frenzied to-do list making is a bit of a distraction technique for your brain, that little voice reminding you that there’s plenty more to life than that one finish line. Which is true, but you’ve also spent months preparing for this moment. Your to-do list can wait a little longer.


Before you go, check out our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, right here:



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