Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Emotional Unrest; Fighting against your Negative-Nelly Self, During a Race or During Life-Living

Pre-Race. Notice all men and notice NBC had a big presence there
In the wake of my longest, hardest obstacle race ever - The Spartan Beast - I found that I have become physically and mentally broken.

The race course was filled with massive climbing, in fact 3500 feet of elevation gain in the 13.5 miles. So walking for me was inevitable though I kept wondering how the professionals conquered the course. I kept up a decent pace by adding in 25 paces of jogging every now and then but I also wanted to avoid hitting my aerobic threshold too early in the course.

I noticed during my race that I was initially putting up a tremendous amount of resistance to the work I had to put in during the course. I kept victimizing myself for the first 5-6 miles, thinking, "Why would they (spartan course designers) create such a god-awful course for us?" I was fighting against my ability to reach a high level of fitness, and I was losing.  My negativity was blatantly obvious and it was in my face at the WRONG time. I knew it was there but I felt completely powerless to stop it or I just wasn't ready to stop it. I knew it had to stop but I also knew it must have been serving a purpose.

So how do you get out of the funk? The negative funk that pulls you down to a level of emotional unrest. How do you pull your head out of the dirt and bring it up to the fresh air? And more importantly how do you do it when every minute counts, like race day?

Digging Out of The Funk

1. Engulf yourself in the  "As If" mentality. Act as if it's easy, act as if you are having the best time of your life. Act as if this course is like eating chocolate cake for you, a walk down easy street. The quickest way to do it is to change your body language. When I get tired or feel inferior, I tend to slouch; I even apply this nasty habit when running.

So the more tired I get, the lower I go to the ground. I once watched a woman finish a marathon and her back was completely parallel to the dirt. She was slouching so much that her chest was at hip height. Not ideal for your lungs but whatever gets you across the finish line.

Instead of that, think strong thoughts and lift yourself up, puff our your chest, put on a shit-eating grin and act as if you are winning the damn thing! If that's too much, just smile for a minute - turn that frown upside down my friend. There was one place on the course where I was all alone, on single track in the woods. It was just me and the mountain and I felt the warm sun on my face and suddenly I got really excited. This was a major turning point for me in the race because suddenly I felt my drive to finish turn from nervous and competitive to pure enjoyment. and a smile naturally crept up my face.

2. Gratitude. Short after that I reached civilization, where the volunteer was encouraging everyone to reach the top of an 8-foot wall. she was shouting out things like, "Go get it girl!" and it made me thankful that a volunteer would offer such enthusiasm. I've had quiet volunteers and that's fine but loud encouragement at loud decibels is always preferred. So I realized the great volunteers make me grateful for their input. The more you recognize what you are grateful for, the harder it is to let a negative mind-set stick. I also made a point of saying thank you to each of my body parts. Most of my adult life I insulted my body, and I think I owe a lot of props to my physical self for putting up with my unappreciative nature. Especially when I reach the top of the 8-foot wall right as both of my calf muscles cramped and I was stalled out on top of the wall. So when they stopped cramping, I was so happy and thanked them for getting me back in the game.

3. Imagine the big picture. Some people tend to focus on the small details and others easily see far into the future. I am one who focuses on the small details: what I am doing for the day, for the hour. Where my hubby focuses on the big picture: what are we doing when we retire, when our next trip out of the country is. So when you do need to get out of a negative mindset, think of where you want to be or what lies ahead in the big picture. My little picture was climbing up the rope climb and my big one was finishing the Beast. So I danced with nice, happy images of me finishing the beast and I let that sit in my mind for happy feel-goods. It worked, I finished. And my head was no longer in the dirt but way up in the clouds.

Out of the funk!