Today I completed my first ever “Running Field Test.” I haven’t done any kind of run testing ever before. The last time I did some sort of test for training it was back on the water and in the dreaded “erg” room when I spent my days repeating stroke after stroke as a rower. For rowing our “erg tests” usually consisted of 2000 meter pieces, 20 minute pieces, or 6000 meter pieces depending on the season. When I was a rower I used to fear erg tests and usually let nerves and anxiety take over resulting in what I considered to be sub-par for the training that I was doing. I always had such a difficult time with the whole mental game. I often defeated myself and ended up feeling great disappointment. Perhaps it was immaturity or perhaps it was the stress of knowing that a poor erg test might mean a “seat race” and then your seat in the boat might be on the line.
Fear the ERG!
Since college I have constantly struggled with this on race day and have worked hard to overcome this crazy feeling of “test anxiety.” It is the same horrible feeling of taking a test in school and finding yourself going completely blank in the middle of the exam (I can still remember the feeling of my heart racing, clammy hands, and shaky legs, and the inability to focus in on my own work instead only hearing the sounds of pencils tapping across the paper, total paralysis sitting in . . .ahhhhhhhhhh! As I write this it is making me feel stressed out.
Do you ever get “test anxiety” or feel like you are having test anxiety on race day?
Today I wanted to feel different after my time trial. I wanted to feel successful. I wanted to know that I had left everything out on the road. I ran by myself today and had to pick a flat stretch of road (this can be difficult in NH). Thankfully there is a great flat stretch of road that is about 1/4 mile long right by the playground where I usually take my kids. I chose this location as my testing ground and completed a very thorough 30 minutes of warming up before my “test”.
leave it out on the road
After my warm-up I prepped myself mentally. I worked to center myself (have been practicing this through visualization during my training runs). When I was getting ready I also worked on feeling relaxed in both my mind and my body. I did not want the stress of my mind to take over or to waste any energy by tightening my muscles during the run. When I felt I ready I just went for it. Amazingly for the first 30 seconds or so when I peeked at my watch I actually saw sub-6 min. splits. CRAZY! I settled in, focused on making my breathing rhythmic and listened to my feet hitting the pavement. I pushed myself. My mantra, “It’s only 8 minutes of running. Just GO!” When the timer beeped at me indicating my finish I was amazingly stoked with my finish time.