Saturday, April 18, 2009

confessions of my rituals ...

we all have them, those little things that we do before every big event. routines, superstitions, idiosyncrasies, rituals ... whatever you call them and for whatever reason you do them, they are there. i remember early on in my basketball career i established a routine that i went through before every free throw. step to line, look at the basket, three dribbles, roll the ball in my hands, bounce at the knees for a 3 count and swish (well, most of the time it went swish). did it contribute to my high free throw percentage? i have no idea. all i know is that i just didn't feel right if i didn't go through the ritual. i have another every time i tee off in golf. as an athlete, we learn that the mental aspect is just as important, if not more, than the physical. we can train all we want but if we are not in the right space mentally, we will never realize our full potential. we will never get where we want to be.

that being said, i am confessing a few of my own ...

* shower - now to some that may seem silly. especially when heading to a triathlon to get in the water. doesn't matter. sometimes i even wash my hair.
* shaved legs - yes, the legs must be shaved either the night before or the morning of... no exception.
* painted toes - this is a must for every triathlon. big triathlons even constitute a trip to the nail salon for a full blown pedicure and a fancy paint job.
* splits - i have to write out my splits before hand. road race and triathlon alike, i have to know exactly where i want to be.
* meditation - i have to mentally picture myself during the race. i know i'm not alone in this one! all i need is a little time to put on my mp3 player and close my eyes and go through the race start to finish.
* music - we have the songs that mean something to us. i have songs for all occasions ... when i'm happy, when i'm sad, when i'm trying to cheer myself up, when i'm trying to pump myself up, when i'm trying to relax. my favorite pre-race song ever is up around the bend by CCR. something about the line "there's a place up ahead and i'm goin' just as fast as my feet can fly ..."
* go to phrase or song - i need something in my head to think about, repeat, or sing when it gets really tough. it changes from race to race but i do have some favorites. for big races i usually come up with something new. one year while racing my third big lake half marathon, i sang the abc song over and over to get through the 4 miles of really tough hills. crazy but it worked.
* hair ribbons - this is my newest and most off the wall yet. for some reason i decided that i needed ribbons in my hair for my first boston marathon and they had to match my singlet... blue and orange. i have no idea why or where this idea came from. There is something to be said about feeling better about yourself if you think you look good ... yes, back to the mental aspect. so, as i was preparing for boston marathon #2 i realized i needed another set of ribbons. yesterday i picked up my new singlet to check out the colors so i could get matching ribbons today. this time, blue and silver... and they sparkle!

do any of these things make me perform better? i have no idea but i don't think i'll change them ...

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