After a gruelling winter of hard work, pounding around the track and working away in the weight room, today I was to step back out onto the track to compete, not just with my opponents but also with myself. Bar a couple of small indoor meetings, this would be my first real race in six months, going through my head is a thousand and one things but it’s my job to pick out what I need to focus on, and what I need to shut out. It’s almost half 8 on a bitterly cold, spring evening and I’m only just being called to my marks, around 40mins after the scheduled start time. This would, therefore, be more than just a test of my physical characteristics tonight, it would challenge me mentally in terms of dealing with the stresses of competition that sometimes surface themselves.
Testing yourself like this is often a neccessity of life in any endeavour, sure we all hate tests, trials, assessments, evaluations and whatever else they seem to masquerade themselves as these days( especially us students!), but they are simply a fact of modern life for all of us ,and, actually, are often exactly what we need. For me this pre-season race was the perfect test for me as it not only evaluated my physical preparations for the year but also my mental capacity and ensuring I was to practice what I preached in terms of remaining confident and psychologically prepared (as in last weeks blog). With all the hanging around so many questions began to enter my mind: have I warmed up enough? Should I do more, or would it tire me out? How long am I still to wait? How will my performance be effected? Who else is in my race and what are they doing in preparation for it?
As it turned out I was successfully able to manage all of these emotions and come out of the race with not only a win but a very pleasing performance. After being challenged with several issues leading up to the race, all of which could well manifest themselves at any time during the competitive season ahead, I had been able to produce my best ever performance over the specified distance, 150m, which would set me up perfectly for the 100 and 200m races I’d be contesting in the following months. Testing yourself like this can be of such benefit as it allows you not only to gauge your physical performance against others, but, more importantly, to test your mental capability and to give you a platform from which to build upon going forwards, allowing you to see the progress you’ve made thanks to where you’ve been, and also where you now need to go to continue improving.
Where on this day everything came together, it’s important to remember not every day can be like this, we all have good days and bad days, but it’s what you take from each day and each experience that is important and is what will shape your progress in whatever it is you’re striving toward.