This past weekend, I competed at the Ontario Senior Championships and placed third with a time of 13.58s. The challenge was as much mental as it was physical. I not only had to clear ten physical barriers, I also had to overcome a major mental barrier.
In my last practice run, minutes before the race, I fell pretty hard. Those of you who know me well would say: “as usual!” Because I have a bit of a “track record” for face planting, you could be excused for thinking that I must be used to it by now and that it isn’t a big deal. However this is not so! Although falling seems to be a part of my training/competition regimen, for it to happen again – right before an important race – brought up a slew of emotions. As soon as I hit the ground, the tape recorder went off: “Not again… Not now…You have to be kidding me…This is exactly what happened last week”.
I had two options in that moment: give up or pick myself up and get on with the job I was there to do. Obviously giving up wasn’t an option but oh, how difficult it is to turn that darn recorder off! I got up, shed a few tears and gave myself the time it took to walk back to the starting line to shake it off. A minute later, the gun went off. I ran a clean race and finished third.
Not that long ago, I would not have been able to turn the tape recorder off and refocus so quickly. Overcoming this mental barrier was a great accomplishment for me and as important as clearing the hurdles and coming in third. As athletes, we push our body to the limit every day, working to shave a fraction of a second off our time. We tend to forget, however, how important it is to train our mind.
Just because I’ve improved my ability to deal with mental barriers, it doesn’t mean that I can afford to keep falling! Lord knows, I have more than enough scars on my body as it is!