At Vineman I tried to take this to another level with racing - because honestly, racing is when I'm hardest on myself. It is easy during training to scrap a workout in order to keep from getting injured, or to remind yourself that it's ok the workout didn't go as planned because of course, that is in fact why it is called training! But come race day, I have historically been harder on myself than anyone. I train hard because when I toe the line, I expect 110% out of myself, and I have very high expectations. If that does not happen, it is nobody's fault but my own. And there is nothing wrong with expecting the most out of yourself. But the time this becomes counter-productive, is when athletes take those expectations and turn them into negativity during a race.
Thanks to Denis Carrier for this awesome racing illustration.
So at Vineman I did two things when I was racing - I actually smiled quite a bit (mostly because I love to race, but also I race very well when I'm happy.) And I constantly told myself "Be GOOD to yourself!" Anytime something went wrong, or I started to fall off the pace, or my legs started hating me, I repeated this. And rather than feeling like I was beating myself up (because let's be honest, racing as hard as you can for 4.5 hours isn't exactly a spa day...) throughout the race I really felt like I was taking care of myself rather than beating myself up. It's a huge difference.
So next time you are racing and think, "Oh come on, your grandma could run faster than this right now, pick it up!" Which honestly, would you ever say that to one of your friends? (Well - I might say that to a few of them jokingly, but never seriously.) Instead - be GOOD to yourself. I think you will find it makes a huge difference in your mental racing state. At least for me it does.
Happy training (& racing!)