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Running: Getting back that competitive edge

Posted by George Parker on
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Today, we're talking about getting back that competitive edge in running. Our sport is unique because we don't compete all the time like in other sports such as tennis, golf, baseball, etc. We can forget what it feels like to compete --- how to deal with that surge of adrenaline and excitement. But there are ways to keep that edge sharp. 

Hey, runner's. Welcome. This is George, another edition of the 5-Minute Warmup. Today I wanted to talk about the competitive edge, and what I mean by that is that one of the things that's unique about our sport in running is that we train a lot. And when you train a lot, that means you're not racing a lot. In fact, you may only race a couple times a year.

I compare that with other sports. Let's say you play tennis, or let's say you play ping pong, whatever it is. There's a good chance that you're competing a lot. You're going to train during the week. You're going to practice, but you're also going to have matches where you go out there to actually compete. What that does for you is that it constantly reminds you that it's a sport, you have this sense of competition, and you get used to dealing with that surge of adrenaline that comes from competition. You don't always get that in running, and it can take you by surprise when you show up for race day. You feel the surge of adrenaline, you feel the people around you, maybe you're not used to it.

One of the things that's worth considering, that I've thought a lot about, is how do you bring that competitive edge back into your running game, so you're not surprised when you get faced with this adrenaline rush or when you are put into a race situation? Obviously, you can't race every weekend. If you raced every weekend, you would never have enough to perform at your peak. That's why you have periodization. That's why you do only certain races a year.

You can simulate it during training, for sure. There are certain workouts, maybe workouts that you do in a group of other people where it can push you to run a little bit harder, but that's tricky because you don't want to run too hard in practice. You want to save your best for the race. You want to peak on the specific race day. That's what makes it so hard to simulate competition in running.

What I think may be a good alternative is, what are some other ways that you can get comfortable with the feeling of competition in your life outside of running? And then you can use that and channel that into when you do peak races. For instance, it may be that you're in a tennis league and you play tennis, or maybe you're in a bowling league. Whatever it is. Maybe it's some other sport that you play that helps you get comfortable with that feel of competition. Maybe you like playing cards, maybe you like playing Canasta or Spades or whatever it is. That can be a way to simulate it. Maybe you like coaching. Maybe you like coaching a soccer team, and that can give you a way to kind of simulate that edge. But what it does is, whatever you do, maybe it's a workout class you joined, it's a spin cycle class.

Whatever it is, it can give you a chance to get comfortable with that feeling of competition and that adrenaline you get from competition, without having to go too hard during practice. I think that will benefit you as a runner a lot, because when it comes race day, you won't forget that you're here to race, and you'll be used to dialing in that competitive mindset, and you won't be overwhelmed with those feelings of adrenaline and competition. Because you're going to have a lot of reps with it in the time leading up to the race that you just can't simulate in your race and your running training itself.

Hope that's helpful. Best wishes on your running.

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