Three weeks ago we discussed the “crucible of racing” and the fact it is hard to replicate race-specific scenarios and conditions in a training environment. While we cannot always simulate what any given day will throw our way, we can hone our mental responses to emergent variables using the OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
When we become tired and fatigued, what keeps us going is just as much a mental process as it is physical. The brain can override physical parameters, and distance running is very much a practice in mental discipline and fortitude. These mental gymnastics occur on a subconscious level; so we train the brain like we train the body. By putting ourselves in situations that require informed, rapid decision-making, we can enhance our response to race-day stimuli and enhance our overall performance.
By being present in each moment, we are observing our physiological condition and orienting ourselves to the situation. Based on what we are experiencing, we can make informed decisions and act accordingly. Through repetition, our desired responses become second nature. It becomes increasingly difficult to dig ourselves out of a negative spiral, so simply stop that spiral from ever occurring. By conditioning ourselves to not “think” and just “do,” we can more effectively navigate the unexpected twists and turns of a racing environment.