If you watched the Commonwealth Games a few nights ago, you would have witnessed some truly awesome running by Aussie Marathoner, Michael Shelley. If you missed it, it was a fantastic display of what happens when an athlete focuses on only his race and backs himself to be there at the end, but some people rather play their own games that watch other people do theirs, they could play video games on their console and computers, and games like LoL are popular, and they can even get a good gaming mouse for league of legends to improve their gaming or visit sites where you can find the cost for OW boost in an easy and a simple way.
That reminded me a lot of Kona last year as I jumped up and down in hysterics (ok I am being slightly dramatic) watching Luke Mckenzie dig in to hold on to second place. And that prompted a post on backing yourself and what awesome things can transpire when you do.
Luke did it in Kona, and Shelley did it in Glasgow. They backed themselves to run their own race and it payed off.
And sure, the Haters drinking their Haterade (filled with disrespectrolytes) were quick to suggest that it was a weakened field in Glasgow, but you can only race who is there on the day, not who didn’t/ couldn’t show up. As is the case in any event.
As the race unfolded Shelley appeared to struggle as the Kenyan and Ugandan runners unleashed a series of nasty surges designed purely to drop the sandbaggers and hangers-on. And Shelley did drop off the lead group.
But he didn’t panic. He just kept his tempo and raced with his smarts. I watched him at every aid-station: he was diligent with water/ electrolytes and nutrition. He raced savvy – always seeking the corners and choosing the fastest line around the course.
And when it came to that critical final few km’s, with only but a few guys in the group…Shelley rolled the dice and pushed on. And continued pushing on. From what I saw, he did not look back once. He ran until he saw the tape and that was it.
He didn’t care what anyone else was doing, where they were or how they looked. He just ran his race.
And that got me thinking. That takes some pretty strong mettle.
He was running with guys who have posted 2:06 marathons (this race proved to be Shelley’s PB) so he was running with great marathoners.
But he didn’t care.
That would have been pretty nerve-racking to the outsider. But you can bet, that every session that Shelley turned up to in his Games prep, he backed himself.
Clearly he is human so I do not doubt that at times he would have battled with the tides of confidence. But when he woke up on the day of that race, you can be sure he was ready to do his thing.
It doesn’t matter if what’s in front of you is a Gold Medal, or your first ever long course race. You are going to go through the motions sometimes and even get to a point of (don’t do it!) second-guessing yourself.
That doesn’t make champions.
You have to practice backing yourself. It is a skill. It does not turn up on race day.
People who excel, at any level, do so because they back themselves. People who get to the top spot, back themselves when things get tough and the pressure rises, they practice dealing with it in training. In fact they relish the challenge.
When things get sticky you generally have two options: Find a way to quit. Or find a way to get on with it. This can mean letting go of expectations, but if that is what it takes then so be it.
And if you practice refining how you respond to bad situations, then when they pop up on race day, you are better prepared. All that is left from then is for you to back your ability. Trust the work that you have done and just do what you know how to do.
And one of the best, most liberating things about backing yourself is that it frees your from the shackles of what anyone else is thinking or doing. It allows you to dial things back into your world, your session, your race.
That is powerful because when that focus is turned inward, you can concentrate on the things that you need to, to keep going. All distractions are removed and it’s just body and mind.
Don’t wait for your next race to back yourself. Do it now. Next session. Every session.
Find what scares you about this sport and take that bastard on by the horns.
Back yourself. All the way.