When I was in high school, about 20 years ago, I was in Drama Club. For those who know me, this is not a shock. I’m loud. Wicked loud. I’m loud enough to overcome my lack of dramatic talent.
Regardless, talent or no, we used to do this team building activity called a trust fall. This is where you would just fall backwards and trust the people behind you to catch you.
Now, in most situations, this is not a dangerous event. Of course, this was high school, so in theory I was asking a bunch of teenagers to catch me. Sketchy.
I never could perform those trust falls. Not one.
Trust. I guess one would argue that perhaps I just did not trust enough. They might say I have trust issues. But I argue no, that was not the issue at all.
I trusted myself not to fall.
I still do to this day.
It's the end of March, and that means it’s the most celebrated time of year in Richmond.
It is the season of Spring Running. At least some portion of my friends are out knocking back miles for Boston, while the rest of them are out training for the little 10K that takes over the city every year.
The 10K will be talked about at Water coolers, Break rooms, Nurses Stations, Starbucks and two hundred other places. The question, “Are you running?” will be asked of me personally at least 50 times in the next thirty six hours.
I am. But, I hesitated to run it this year.
See, a few years ago I had my “The Best Day Ever” at this 10K, and I always wonder if I will possibly beat that time again. It would be disappointing to try and fail.
But then again...
My advice to the runner getting prepared to race any distance is to trust yourself. Trust your training, trust your decision to go ahead with the insanity of running a specific distance as fast as you can, trust your race plan. Trust your race plan, and STICK TO IT, even when if for some reason it feels easy in mile 1.
Most of all trust the inner voice of reason. This is not to be confused with the inner voice of doubt.
The voice of doubt tells you that your goals are unachievable.. It may even go as far as to say that you should give up running all together, and take up a new hobby. Suggestions may include shuffleboard or curling.
The voice of reason tells you to read books written by Olympians, marathoners, Moms who run, and Guys who run 500 miles a month. The sensible voice says, “listen to the stories your friends tell you with a critical ear, question the sources of advice on the Internet, edit, listen, and do not follow blindly”.
The voice of reason says if you run your training runs at X pace, there is no reason to question your race pace.
That’s also the voice of reason that says if you run your training runs at X pace, there is no reason to believe you’re suddenly going to be minutes per mile faster on race day.
The voice of reason reminds you, this is not a 5K. Unless it’s a 5K.
The voice of reason tells us to run the race we trained to run.
And most of all, the voice of reason says to heed the bell.
Heed the bell.
In high school there are bells for everything. Alarms to wake you, bells to tell you when to enter the halls, when you have five minutes until class starts, when class is over, when you better be in class again. Bells. For. Everything.
Some of the best advice I ever got was from a teacher in 9th grade who advised us to heed the bell. She said, "if you’re ever on a date, and things get to the point when you start to over think a ‘thing’, that’s the bell in your mind saying to put on the brakes".
“Heed the bell” she harped in her rich southern drawl.
I took that advice to heart, and apply it to many things in my life. From dating in high school 20odd years ago, to riding the Metro to Anacostia. I know it is wise to listen to the bell. A few times I have over ridden it have had disastrous consequences. See above note about Anacostia Metro Stations.
So when I say Heed The Bell, this is not me advising you to quit on race day. This is me advising you race smart.
The bell might tell you to walk a water stop at mile 3 because there are cups everywhere and it’s a bit dodgy. Go ahead and drink while you’re at it.
The bell might tell you to sip from your bottle, even though you’re not thirsty.
A bell might tell you to TAKE THE GUMMI BEARS from the volunteer.
The bell might tell you UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU TAKE THE GUMMI BEARS from the volunteer.
A bell might tell you to fall in beside someone who seems to be running the right pace, even if it feels slow.
Your bell might tell you to push yourself to hang with someone through a mentally challenging part of the course.
Regardless of what happens on race day, listen to the most important runner on the course. That’s you, incase you wondered. Listen and believe in that person. They knew what they were doing when y’all signed up for the race. That runner was there for every step of training. No one else but YOU really knows what you feel like.
And that’s what I will have to do on Saturday when I get up and go for a run with my 30,000 BRFs. I have to listen.
I have to Trust myself not to fall.
~ savor the run ~