Mental Game

The mental game is on months before the race.  It is about all the tricks one plays on oneself to stay in a space of possibility.  For me, it includes cognitive techniques such as reframing a situation to highlight the wonder of it and emotional techniques, such as trance-inducing music.

I love to dial up the challenge from adventure to adventure, so that there is something to learn.  In this case, going from 300 miles in 6 days to 1000 in 20 or 30 days asks for a very different cadence, very different “lifestyle”.  I find myself experiencing anxiety two months before the race – my awfulizer kicks in and anticipates all manners of disaster.

This drives improved planning and visualization.  What are the likely risks?  How can I mitigate them?  What will I learn?  What never-seen-before wonders await?

My mental game has failed at least once, at Kodiak 100.  Underdressed and overexposed on a windy mesa, during an unexpected second night, between miles 92 and 98, crawling due to an early injury, I felt trapped in a groundhog-day, repetitive trail pattern after thinking I was basically  done.  As in many other ultrarunning situations, the way out was the bedrock mantra: Incessant Forward Motion.

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More often, I find hidden resources as everything goes to hell in a hand basket around me.  My awfulizer is too tired to work and something deeper takes over, making me a much more effective human being!

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