Control What You Can Control

Control What You Can Control

By TNT Coach Dan McCann

 On race day and during our training — as in life — there are things we can control and things we can't. Among those race factors we can't control: the weather, what other people do, and the design of the course. We can control our preparation for and our reaction to each.

For instance:

 - Weather: If it's a warm race, as difficult as it might be, those who are willing to adjust their pace and their goals, typically come out on top. We can't control the weather -- we can only control our response to it. That includes our wardrobe. If it's going to be a hot race, plan to dress lightly and wear lightweight, light-colored breathable fabrics like Coolmax. If it's going to be cool to start, layer up so you can be comfortable pre-race. (Shivering costs us an incredible amount of energy.) Then, either take advantage of gear check or plan to shed as you warm up. ("But gear check is a hassle"... Perhaps, but so is starting the race drained because you've been struggling to stay warm.)

What other people do: We can't control what other people do but we can control our behavior. Let's say it's congested at the start. Some people will jump up on curbs and do a lot of weaving; wasting energy and risking a twisted ankle, fall or collision with another participant. Best to be patient and wait for your bubble of space to open up (which it will). A lot of times before a race begins you may see people doing funky warm-up routines and you may think, "Should I be doing that?" Ask yourself this simple question, "Did I do that during my training?"

The design of the course: If we're talking about hills, we can control how we train for them (a weekly hill workout). Then, on race day, we can control our approach, aiming for equal effort not equal pace and walking up the monsters if we sense that will ultimately prove a time-saver. If you encounter a boring stretch of course, we can lament the lack of stimulation or we can focus on our "why," strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler or let that be a "music break" and shuffle the Spotify playlist. You are in control!

A few other factors we can we control: 

- Our pace - Going out too fast is one of the top mistakes we (us included) make on race day. The excitement and the adrenaline -- it's no secret why we do it. Here's the cool thing -- you and you alone control your pace. Pulling on the reigns takes discipline but the payoff, down the road, is massive. We cherish our Garmins -- use them to keep yourself in check. 

- Our fueling and hydration - You may be tempted to call an audible during the race because you're feeling good at a particular point. ("I'm supposed to take a gel right now, but I don't want to upset the apple cart. I think i'm going to skip it.") Stick to the tried, true and tested plan — even if that means writing it in Sharpie on your arm as a steady reminder. Some people may be tempted to skimp on hydration to avoid a potty stop or stops. Those are fleeting hassles; a dehydration-inspired DNF is forever.

- Our attitude - We encourage all of our participants to be good training partners — to themselves. You wouldn't want to run with a partner who was perpetually negative and complaining. Don't be that running partner to yourself. Practice positivety and find that mantra you can use to drown out the negativity ("o-ver-come," "I am strong"... whatever speaks to you). And if things start to go south, focus outward. Cheering others on helps take the emphasis off of yourself.

A few things think about as you prepare to take your starting lines either in the weeks to come or a date still to be determined.

Control What You Can Control
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