A role I have taken on as we prepare for the Nike Women’s Weekend in Toronto June 11-14th is to be a Brand Ambassador, recruiting students to register and run the 15km race on the Sunday. To date, I have created a group of 85 students, some who eagerly signed up and others taking some more convincing to be part of my team. Many having never run more than a 5km ever believed in me and trusted that I could help them accomplish that goal of not only crossing the finish line, but being brave enough to step on the starting line. I am thrilled that I have been able to have such a positive impact and encourage others to step outside of their comfort zones and challenge themselves, but I know that some people are beginning to get nervous as we are now just a short three weeks shy of race day. Regardless of your experience level, I have created a few tips that I will be following myself to best prepare to reach race day and get myself through the entire 15km.
- Imagery is a powerful tool. In a variety of life situations, imagery can be used; this race is no different. Visualize race day. Imagine what you will eat, how hydrated you are going to be, the temperature, the race course, and even picture those butterflies. We can prepare best by preparing realistically. Even seasoned runners get nervous – it is just all about how you practice and imagine yourself dealing with the nerves.
- Use self-talk. Again, like imagery, this is another useful tool that can be applied outside of running to a variety of tasks. During your training runs over the next few weeks talk to yourself. I do this all the time! I tell myself I am going to do it and do it well. You have to truly believe in yourself and the task you are on, because let’s face it, if you don’t, who will?!
- Split up the race course into smaller sections. For those less competitive, choose checkpoints to reach and only focus on one at a time. We can often get overwhelmed wondering how we will get our bodies from point A, the starting line, to point B, the finish, and forget that the race is a process. For those more competitive, like myself, choose people to run to. I have always run my races this way, starting back in middle school when I first ran cross country. You just pick ‘that girl in the pink’, and once you get to her, you find ‘that girl in the green’, and you keep doing that until you make your way to the finish line 15km later.
- Remember why you started. This weekend is all about celebrating women and coming together as a community and accomplishing great things. Let’s not forget, signing up for this race alone is a huge deal! Not everyone had the courage to do even just that. Some of us are looking to try something new, some looking for a challenge, others will be trying to crush PBs, and some are simply just trying to get to the end. Whatever your reason was to sign up, don’t lose sight of it and use it to motivate you throughout these last three weeks of preparation and on race day as your body becomes challenged and fatigued.
- You can’t take anyone else to the dance and it has arrived. My coach always tells our team as we enter a big game that the time has come, the dance has arrived. He tells us that we’ve done all the preparing we can do and that it is now time to use all that we have learned and trained for and put it to the test. No one can take away all the preparing we have done and he wouldn’t take anyone else to the dance. Channel the dance as you wake up on race day morning, or maybe can’t sleep the night before. You will just focus on the task ahead. You will forget about those runs you may have missed along the way and just do it (no pun intended). For me, I hurt my foot and had to take a month off. Totally not ideal, but you accept what has happened and leave it at the start line. You have done all the preparing you can do and the time has come to show yourself what you are made of. Step on the stage and show us your dance moves.
I am so excited for the weekend to arrive and experience it with each and every one of those participants who have registered. You all motivate me to never be complacent and always be challenging myself to reach that next big goal. Remember, no matter what that next step is, you will always be better for it.
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.