As runners, one of the things we constantly have to deal with is all this Power of Positive Thinking blather from so-called running experts. It’s enough to make me resort to antiquated, middle America slang: It’s tomfoolery!
On several occasions, I’ve suspended my uninterrupted stream of cynicism to adopt the CAN DO attitude. What has it gotten me? How about a huge credit card bill, public humiliation, a scared, malnourished llama, and one macing. Each of these stories is hilarious and sad in their own right but I’m not going into them now. Depositions are still being taken in two of the incidents which precludes further explanation.
The point is that Positive Thinking, in a runners world, is a byproduct of training (seed), organization (soil) and dedication (water). It’s the flower that grows from the these ingredients. Not the other way around. That’s pure poppycock!
Positive Thinking won’t get you a PR when you show up on race day undertrained and covered in llama dung. Balderdash!
I believe in the power of Positive Pessimism. When preparing for a race – a 5k, 10 miler, marathon, any distance – I assume I need to do better than my training has gone so far. I assume the wind must be at my back during those training runs. I assume I don’t have nearly as much time to train as the calendar indicates. Basically, I live in fear that the street will implode just as I hit stride when I get to the race.
When I show up on race day however, I know that I did the requisite training. I stuck to my plan. I CAN push through when things get tough. I am able to wrestle an attacking llama to the ground. This sounds like Positive Thinking but its really a reminder that I’ve already fought these battles during my training. My fear of failure has blossomed into race day confidence.
But it wasn’t the Positive Thinking claptrap that accomplished this. When’s the last time you saw Tony Robbins win the Boston Marathon? Answer: Never. (And Game, Set, Match to Nitmos! Take that T.R.)
Positive Thinking sometimes leads to its unwanted uncle, Unfounded Optimism. And race day disappointment.
I think this Positive Thinking bunkum gets a little carried away sometimes. Try a little Positive Pessimism on for size. Not sure you trained enough for the race? Guess what? You’re probably right. Think you’re not pushing hard enough to get that desired PR? Right on. You’re not.
Think positively pessimistic.
Prepare for the worst race day weather and most difficult course imaginable. Assume the other runner’s are you-hating ninjas disguised in moisture wicking garments. Then, when the gun goes off and you find the conditions aren’t that bad, who gets the credit? (Besides me, of course – blushing.)
Positive thinking? That’s a bunch of hooey.
Pessimism. Positive Pessimism.
And, maybe, a small fear of llamas.
Here’s an interesting book I found online that seems to have pre-stolen, written, edited, and published my thoughts before I got around to posting. I smell another restraining order!
The esteemed Mizfit has asked me to answer some of her viewer mail running related questions over at her site. Check it out. Notice how I worked “fartlek” into a response. Awesome. And remember to leave comments complimenting my masculinity, intelligence, and llama-wrestling abilities. Here’s some starter words to work in to the comments: “rugged”, “Herculean”, “gazelle-like”, “Cary Grantish”, and “foxy”.
Just so we’re clear, here’s words NOT to work in: “bottom feeder”, “imbecile”, “jackhole” and “Andy Dickish”.
I'll be on vacation next week. Will I bother to post? Who knows? I haven't decided if what I'm feeling is apathy or contempt for all of you. If you get yourselves a post, you're welcome. Everyone behave now while I'm away.