What do you see in this picture?
Some see a mountain, clouds and sun. Others see an angry face in the clouds. I see a smile in the clouds. Do you see the face in the profile of the mountain? Whatever you see, you are correct. Your mind moves you to or from your goals. As we approach the Ironman World Championship and the Chicago Marathon, I am reminded of attitude and how it effects our performance.
I like to hear people like Natascha Badmann when she talks about conditions at her races. In 2000, she commented about the brutal winds (50 mph winds and 75 mph gusts), "I felt the wind testing my fitness. I knew I was fit and just extended my wings and flew." What an attitude! I know I went from, "Keep pushing! I'm right with the Pro women!" to "Keep the rubber side of the bike down and keep going...at least the 60 year old women haven't passed you yet."
You hear people like Mark Allen talking about mind/body/soul. I think this really speaks to being secure in your fitness, body, and all aspects of your life. If you are calm and at peace with who you are (the person you are when nobody is around...when it is just you looking in the mirror) then you'll be fine. If you can see the smiley face right off the bat, now you can use this attitude as an athletic asset. I am a naturally optimistic and positive person. My energy comes from within.
Yesterday's long run was a great example of how attitude effects our performance. On the way to my long run I was cut off three times - not just an 'excuse me' cut off. I'm talking the full blown slam on the breaks 55 to 20 cut off. THREE people who live off of Route 59 pulled out in front of me about 100 feet before I got to their car with me doing 55 mph. 1) I had my lights on 2) I was the first car in a string of cars. What the hell are they thinking? The last person to cut me off...he and grandma had the 'ol cruise control set at 33 (in a 55 mph zone). Ordinarily, this slow and safe type of driver doesn't bug me too much as I can get around them safely sooner or later and I'd only loose a minute or so on a local car trip - nothing to get upset about. I keep telling myself, "At least they are driving safely." Yesterday, it just had me in about in a rage. 1) I was running just on time - meaning I was going to arrive about 5 minutes before the run took off (a little close for comfort) 2) I am concerned about running well and need to get to this run.
I arrived and the training partner wasn't there. My Fuel Belt was only half ready to go. Arrggh! I waited the 'courtesy five' for John but he didn't show. So off on my 2 hr and 15 minute run...solo. There was one late group (who I'm now behind) who was hammering to get caught up to the main group. I found myself suffering running close to 6:50 miles in the hills, feeling full from breakfast, and getting more mad.
Finally, and thankfully, I got a small rock in my shoe. I stopped to remove it and stretched my calves out a bit. The group of three was gone now. I was truly alone. I relaxed. I even smiled at how quite it was. I saw the surgeon who walks her golden retriever on Sunday's and even stopped briefly to say 'hi' and give Barney (her dog) a scratch on the back (tail wagging wildly). Cleansing deep breath. I felt my tension leave and my pace went to 8:00/mile (remember...hills) and I was very comfortable; most groups here are running 9:45 or better. By mile 7, I had caught the group who had left 5 minutes before me and the hammering group and left them behind. At mile 8, I'm now in a full runner's high and nothing can bring me down. Not even the old guy who drives close to the runners and flips us off...on his way to St. Mathew's Lutheran Church in a gold Buick La Sabre and parks in the first handicap spot every week. (Best I can tell, he is a frustrated runner and wishes he was running with us.)
My feet were wings. I flew smiling all the way. The last mile I high fived some kids in a car as I crossed the railroad tracks at Route 14 and Hillside. I even found myself singing along to Roam from the B-52's on the way home. I hope that my athletes and I can remember this on race day and relax and enjoy our races. I call it, "Letting your fitness come out." Bad attitude holds it in...our times will show if we did.