How does a BaddRunner mentally prepare for a race? What types of things do you tell yourself race day? Do you have a mantra when you run?
I try to find out as much about the race as possible and train accordingly. For instance, for Boston we tried to find a long run course that had similar elevation and do that every time. My mantra can also change depending on the race, in fact it probably should never be the same. At Boston I knew there would be a lot of other runners around me, which is not always the case, so my mental saying was, “keep moving up, keep passing.” That way I never settled in. A conservative estimate is that I ended up passing 1,500 runners during Boston. So it really depends on the race at hand. If it is a short fast race (5k for me.) My motto might be just to “hang on to the front runners” or “just stay within striking distance.” But overall, if I had to have one motto it would be “Just keep yourself in the best position to succeed.” Some days that is easy to do in a race, other days it seems impossible, but if you can just keep close to your goal, a lot of times you surprise yourself and find some way to succeed.
I’m always surprised when I succeed…not really. I deserve everything I have, like my ridiculously good looks. For those who aren’t as lucky as me, do you have any tips for running a competitive race?
I’d say never panic and continue to analyze the race. I feel like a lot of competitors that are equal to me in skill level sometimes fail because they allow their brain to shut off at key moments in the race. They might miss a surge because they aren’t paying attention. Or something unplanned might happen that could throw you off mentally…you can’t let it get to you. I’ve almost been hit by a deer, a train, and a tree during a race. You’ve just got to deal with it and not give up. Sometimes I’ve beat a competitor using one tactic that failed the next time. You have to have alternative race plans for the same race. That way if something changes you can adapt and not be phased.
Wait, almost hit by a train during a race?! That’s a true competitor! Other than running putting your closer to death, can you tell me more about what you mean about running taking too prominent of a role in your life? How did your running change/consume other aspects of your life?
In high school and college I let running basically run my life. I really enjoyed it and knew it was happening, but it just left no time for anything else. In college I called my commitment to running “total war.” I tried to beat competitors with every aspect of my life. Anything that could change the outcome of a race I tried to improve such as sleep, nutrition, weight lifting, stretching, massages, icing, rehab, prehap, psychology (I saw a sports psychologist on campus,) and anything else that I thought might help. When people asked me my major I told them that I came to college to run. I did happen to graduate from a private, liberal arts university with a 3.5 GPA (Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama) but I was there to run. After graduation I had to sit down with myself and realize that I was not fast enough to run professionally and therefore had to make room for other stuff. I had also become a Christian in college and it no longer made sense for me to worship my running. Of course I have continued to run at a pretty high level, but overall I consider myself retired. Every time I get too amped up over a race I tell myself to relax because now I’m just doing it for enjoyment. It also gave me time to fall in love with a great girl and make her my wife. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary while in Boston. So obviously running is still a huge part of my life, but I’ve found a balance that has made me happy and more accessible to others in my world.
Congratulations on your Anniversary! I’m personally still holding out for Running, she’s a tough love to lock down. So being a part of the running shoe industry, what do you think about the new Vibram Five Fingers, barefoot running, and toe strike techniques and the idea that the running shoe industry has created running shoes that create more injury by putting such an emphasis on heel cushioning? That the human body was made to run on its toes?
I understand and appreciate the idea, but one thing that I always preach to customers that come in our stores, Breakaway Running in Memphis, Tennessee, is trial and error and personal preference. Sometimes we’ll have people that should obviously be in a shoe with a lot of medial stability but for some reason they can’t stand the feeling and have always worn light flexible shoes to train in. So I tell them that the end goal of footwear is to keep you comfortable and safe. So if they aren’t having problems and can run at the level they want to then they have to go with what works. I say all of this because I understand the theories behind all of those shoes and I own a pair of the Nike Frees that are a similar idea, but I happen to run way back on my heels and haven’t been able to wear anything that is too minimal or forefoot focus like Newtons. Another question we have in the stores is about running form and I always lay out the principals that are supposed to be good for runners and everything, but I end off with telling them that your body will find it’s own “natural” form and to night fight that too much. So always get wary with products that preach only one correct style or stride for running. Some off the greats had terrible running form. I just say do whatever keeps you keeping on.
I couldn’t agree more. There are ideas and general practices that work, but everyone’s body is different and running is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to give us some insight on your Badd Running, Bryan. We look forward to more great running information on your blog, The BaddRunner, and on your running shoe store website, Breakaway Running. See you on the race course!