Pontefract Athletics Club – Cross Country race
Today I took part in my first cross country race since being at school. Now back then, everything was in black and white, it was that long ago!
It wasn’t a very wild course, it was 8 laps around a course that was approx. 750m round the local school playing fields. There were ups. There were downs. There were windy bits. There were easier bits.
It was the first time I had run so far on grass since my rugby playing days too. My former rugby teammates will tell you that I didn’t run much then!
Who am I racing against?
My race today wasn’t against the other runners. My race wasn’t with an aim to get a particular place in the results. My race was for me and to see how well I could do. Not just time-wise and performance-wise, but how I could tell myself to switch on when I needed to work harder, how I could talk myself into pushing myself when I WANTED to walk but didn’t actually NEED to walk.
Don’t get me wrong – I still walked the harder parts, but what I am talking about is that internal dialogue that if I didn’t need to walk then I should keep ongoing. That is a race in itself.
A race to try and convince me that I should keep going before the devil on the other shoulder talks me round to taking it steadier. Who will win? Bet now, bet in play!
The whole ‘one step in front of another’ thing I get and can do that until the cows come home. The mental fortitude that is required when you know you’re not at your physical best is what helps steel you through to achieve things.
By out-thinking yourself, you can convince yourself you can push on to another level. By winning that battle upstairs, you can lift your beliefs in yourself and in what is possible.
Whilst I was far from flawless, I had the belief that the corner is turning and that I am adapting appropriately to my change in breathing style slowly but surely. If you keep winning that battle upstairs, your battle will be very much easier for you to win in all other areas.
Belief is one thing. Mental fortitude is it’s best buddy. Together, you can be much stronger with those two on your side.