Thursday, April 18, 2013

You play like you practice.

I read a blog post on Lifehacker this week that says the motto for practice of sports (or in my case, training for running) shouldn't be "practice makes perfect."  Instead, a better thing to remember and say to yourself is, "You play like you practice."  This comes from a story from Jason Fried of 37Signals who says that while taking a self defense course that incorporated fake guys, the instructor would always have the members of the class put the fake gun on the ground when their turn was over, rather than hand it to the next person.

He originally thought that was sort of a silly thing to do.  Why bend down to put it on the ground, just to make the next person bend down to pick it up?  It seemed unnecessary and kind of rude even.  When he inquired why he couldn't just hand it to the person following him, the instructor explained that sometimes in real life situations, you revert back to how you practice.  The instructor explained that there have been actual cases where police officers or first responders have HANDED A WEAPON BACK to their attacker after de-arming them.  Why?  Because their training and practices had involved handing a weapon over to others, even if just casually.  Your mind is a funny thing and it can play tricks on you sometimes and do what is familiar, even if it seems like the opposite thing at the time.

Anyways, this is why you should practice like you want to play.  If you put in mediocre effort in practice, you can't expect to be extraordinary in a real game.

I feel like I have practiced with a mediocre attitude my whole life.  During high school swim practice, I used to jokingly call my lane the "slacker" lane because I don't think I ever once put in the full effort possibly when at practice.  And it showed in my race results, as I was a mediocre swimmer my whole career.

This mantra of "you play like you practice" really struck a cord with me this week and made me a little nervous as far as my training for this half marathon goes.  I have most definitely been putting in the effort/workload, but on some of my long runs, like my 9-mile run or my 11-mile run, I didn't run the full distance.  I have one more long run this weekend, of 12-miles, and I have been debating whether or not I even want to attempt to do the full 12-miles running or try and take it easy to save up for the big day the following week.

My goal for the half marathon is to finish the whole race without walking.  And since I have cut a couple corners on my long runs when it's gotten tough, I'm scared that mentally, I will revert back to that during the race.  Because, you run races like you train.  If you give up during training, it's easier to give up during the race.  Right?

This week, with that in mind, I've pushed a little harder during my midweek runs.  As I mentioned, I tried to run a bit faster on Tuesday.  During my 5-mile run yesterday I sought out a few hills to conquer throughout the course.  And today during my 3-mile run, the wind was so bad that I felt like I was running through water.  However, I refused to change the route that I had decided on before experiencing the wind because I didn't want to give up.  Even though some portions may have been easier had I chosen a path that had more shelter from the wind or not so much head-on wind running, I kept my route solid.  A week from Saturday I am not going to have control over the wind, the course, or the weather so I need to prepare myself to take on whatever is in my path!

I like this mantra and I will try to keep it with me moving forward.  What do you guys think?  Does this resonate with you as well?

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