I was listening to a great podcast this morning during a long treadmill run. The guest, a sports psychologist, made a statement that caught my attention. He was talking about all sports, but used base-jumping as an example. “Are you all in, or do you stand on the edge a coward?” This can be applied to so much in life, and especially to our racing. Let me explain how I take this.
It doesn’t mean that we over focus on sport and neglect other aspects of our lives. For those that know me, I make big deal about maintaining balance and priorities (family, career, sport, etc). What it does mean is that when we show up to train we do it justice, we focus and get the work done how it was designed to be done. We stay focused on that task, then put it away and focus on the other important areas of our lives. Honor that time that is scheduled to train, then go be Dad, Mom, Husband, Wife, Salesperson, Doctor, whatever that might be. Don’t make the mistake of thinking about work when you are training, then thinking about training when you are at work. We honor neither when we do this.
“Are you all in” can also be your mindset when you stand at the start line of your next race, or even a training session. Are you in control of yourself as you dive in to start the swim, or are you allowing the swim to control you? With all the swim training we do, this is so much more a mindset than it is our ability. Are we starting the swim saying “I own this, time to show my stuff!” or are we saying “I hope no one touches me, I hope I don’t get a mouth full of water, I hope I am not too slow?” This will make the difference between racing with confidence, or a panic attack in the open water.
Finally, “Are you all in” can be our confidence and execution of our race plan. If we have tested our nutrition, our pacing, have trained the distance, climbed the hills, performed the never ending laps of the track, then we should have confidence in our plan and race to that plan. Even if we are ill-prepared for the race, we should race to the plan that will get us to the finish in the best possible shape. If we don’t show up with confidence, we don’t show up “all in”, then we are more likely to let the things out of our control dictate our race. We will burn matches early with everyone else because we won’t have the confidence that we can back ourselves up late in the race when it counts. We will push too hard up the hills, into the winds, because we won’t have the confidence to keep ego in check when our speedometer shows a lower number than expected. We will neglect our nutritional intake because we will be paying attention to negative thoughts in our heads rather than the time on the watch. Race day execution is the difference between success and failure. No matter how well we prepare, it can all go awry if we don’t race to our plan.
So next time you head to the lake for that open water swim, warm up for those time trial intervals, or run to the hills for a repeat session, ask yourself “Am I all in.” Be present, be in control, be confident. Get it right in training and it will be there when it counts.