Friday, May 4, 2012

How to PUMP yourself up

One thing I've learned over the past couple years is that racing can be as much mental as it is physical.  Coming to the start line in the proper state of mind is a must for me.  I need a little bit of nerves, excitement and confidence.  So after I finish my physical preparations like training and packing, I dedicate the last couple days to psych myself out for an extraordinary experience!

Review your training. Read through your training journal or scroll down your page on DailyMile. Read through old blog posts, especially those detailing your long runs. It's been a long road and you've put in a lot of hard work. Sometimes we don't appreciate how far we've come until we look back at our starting point. Praise yourself to build up your confidence. Believe in you..

Watch a movie.  Let yourself be inspired by the abundance of sports flicks that revel around victory.  My favorites are Spirit of the Marathon, Chariots of Fire, The Replacements, Invincible, Any Given Sunday, The Rookie, Rudy, Rocky, We Are Marshall, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Blind Side, The Natural, Remember the Titans, and Miracle.  If you're not into movies, read a good running novel.  I recommend Once A Runner and Return to Carthage, both by John Parker.

Have a Game Plan. This is IT, the big kahoona... what you've been training and obsessing over for the past 12-18 weeks. Don't show up without a plan. I only run a full marathon once a year (that's my plan anyway), so I try to be as ready as possible for the big day. Bring a realistic but aggressive goal.  Know how you want to run the race... even paced or a gradual increase/decrease of pace. Study the course map. Be aware of the elevation points. Know your obstacles and weaknesses and how you're going to deal with them. Are you going to chat with fellow runners or listen to music? How often are you going to look at your watch? Practice your pose/smile for the photographer... Great race photos don't just happen. Visualize your lowest point of the run. Visualize the finish line, your glory. 

Dance. Crank the music and move. There's nothing my kids love more than an impromptu dance party in the middle of the kitchen.  And the day before a big race, it's the perfect release for bent-up stress and energy.  Anything to get a small taste of those happy endorphins!

Silly Subtle Suggestions. Wear your old race shirts all week. Drink from your marathon mug. Baby your feet with a nice pedicure (soak/massage/paint only... no cutting or trimming this close to the big run!).  Paint a big old 26.2 on your big toe. Mark yourself up early... Grab the sharpie and write your name down your arm. Apply those fun temporary tattoos. Wear your old race medals for an hour each day.  Convince yourself you are a runner, an athlete, a competitor, a winner... and you will be amazing!

What's your favorite inspirational sports movie?
Do you have any other pre-race rituals to pump yourself up?
Are you racing this weekend?

I'm off to Wisconsin to run 26.2 as fast as my body will let me. Thank you so much for your encouragement and support through this past training cycle. I can't even put into words how much it is appreciated. Have a great weekend and GOOD LUCK to everyone racing! Let's go kick some asphalt!


  1. You're going to do great! Hopefully the weather holds out for you up there with little humidity and no trace of thunderstorms. My favorite movie to watch before a race is "Without Limits", it's a Prefontaine movie and it's pretty stinkin good. Other then that, I know this sounds super weird, but I don't wash my hair for a few days before a race and believe that it brings me luck. Gross I know.

    Fly like the wind!

  2. Great advice! Love it!

    Well great race photos DO just happen if you are that "ridiculously photogenic" guy that was buzzing a month or so ago! Ha

  3. Have a great race! I am sure you will do great things with all of the training that you have invested!

  4. Thanks for the advice! I always enjoy reading your blog. You have trained hard for this. Enjoy the big day! Oh, and don't forget to look around while you run. It is possible to run by the St. Louis Arch and not see it. :)

  5. THANK_YOU just what I needed...headed into MY FIRST MARATHON in 3 weeks...YAHOOOO I like the paint a big 42km on my toe idea!

  6. I am cheering you on from the sidelines! Have a wonderful time.

  7. You will do great. I will be cheering for you. I'm making my posters and signs today. All pumped up!!! See you in Kenosha.

  8. GOOD LUCK, JESS!!!!!! :) :) :)

  9. I always say running is a mental sport. This is a great post. You are definitely prepared and are going to kick asphalt ;))

  10. Have a great race I can't wait to hear all about it!

  11. You are going to do so great!! I look forward to hearing about it. After reading this post I realize I really need to work on the pump myself up before the race. I am usually just a ball of nerves. I need to learn how to relax and just have fun!

  12. I don't know that I have any rituals being that I only ran one marathon so far and a half marathon.
    However what helped me for the marathon was to bring my trail running book and review the tough courses I ran. It took away my doubts that I wouldn't be able to run a hilly/mountain course.
    Find some inspirational quotes. There are two I memorized: "You've gone too far to quit now" and "The Marathon: 10 miles with your head, 10 miles with your legs, 6.2 miles with your heart". The thought of running through my heart carried me through the end.
    Lesson learned: remember to fuel. It's easy to get carried one by the race, the moment, the spectators and forget to fuel right. That's when you hit (or bordeline) on bonking.
    Plan for some good after race snacks. I had my husband bring me a stoneyfield greek yogurt smoothie and I'm so glad I did since none of the dry food appealed to me.

  13. I think that these are all good ideas for anyone who works out! For me atleast, fitness is very much a mental game. Usually my body is willing to perform and perform, but my head is what gets in the way. Its a learning curve, but I've definitely come a long way personally!


  14. woohoo, I'm cheering for ya!

    Ah, I love pumping myself up before something exciting like this...enjoy!!!


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