As I was mindlessly eating a Pop-Tart and some yogurt before my last long run, I began to ponder a bit about my pre-run routine. All of my long runs begin from one of two places. Occasionally there is a third option, which I did not utilize this training session. When you have started your long runs from the same place your routine becomes ingrained. This is a good thing.
The pre-run ritual clams us in ways subliminal and obvious. This calm carries over (or at least should) to the start of our run. But race day is totally different. The normalcy is out the window the moment your alarm sounds. Which is why one of the best skills I learned in high school is the ability to find my own little center of calm when surrounded by thousands of other runners. Panicking runners. Nervous runners. Runners nervous about the bathroom. Chatting and laughing runners. Runners returning to the bathroom for a second or third time. Runners warming up. Runners standing still.
All of this distraction and borderline manic behavior can be quite unsettling. It is easy to get caught up in the emotional turbulence that exists before a marathon. To avoid this, I find a spot, it doesn’t have to be anything special, and I tune the world out. They are not competitors, but peers. We are all racing against ourselves. I just cycle through the same stretches I always do. I smile and I laugh a bit at whatever random thought happens across my mind. And I just refuse to be anything other than calm.
It is this calmness that makes it easy for me to simply stroll up into the corral. So, I wish you all great peace and calm before you begin your next race; however it is you find it.