DIARY: The Day After

I've been fairly knackered today, after the usual pre-race endorphine/adrenaline high, my body has been telling me that that constituted a rough start to the New Year.

That's another reason why regular training is surely important, races simply come as less of a shock to a well-conditioned body.

Damage reports are comforting, though, there's a lot of muscular soreness, but nothing out of the ordinary. The left side of my left foot (the injured one) seems to have been slightly overstretched and there is soreness up into the lower leg. Again, though, nothing I haven't felt last season and nothing that won't be gone in a few days.

The Plantar, however, is not aggravated, even after taking a direct hit to the "show-me-the-money-spot" just above the end of the inside of the heel, mid-foot, as I hammered by Inov-8 down onto a perfectly shaped rock (for the purpose!).

Mind Over Matter
Several runners told me over the last few days that doing well in races is a lot about "trying". Not like in "I'll give it a shot", but true grit (John Wayne style), chumping yourself through pain with the appetite of the Cookie Monster.

I'm not sure what mental profile bestows this particular gift to some runners when so many may not have it. Vanity? Stubbornness? Defiance? Anger? Fortitude? Or just an extreme discipline and conditioned mind that will not break to pain. Psychology surely has lot to explain about the ability to move beyond once own limits, and I would love to read it.

For now, all I can say about it, is that why genes are supposed to take up 70% of your predestined talent, and you only have 30% to play with, this equation, while undoubtedly correct, does not take into account the mind of a truly competitive racer (I'll leave the profile of such undefined for now, for I don't know enough of the subject).

Is resistance to pain and the psychological characteristics genetic as well? Possibly, and at least certainly to some extent, but this is not the parts of the genetic advantage discussed in sport's literature today (that's all about heart size, muscle fibre composition, leg length and so on).

Well there's a different type of heart size beating in a lot of runners out there, as anyone who saw the face of Mike Long after yesterday's race (or any race he runs) will not doubt, nor will anyone who ever read of frail Joss Naylor and his 214 peaks.

Psychology of Running
Certainly a book must be written on this subject soon. Every single race is a concise psychological study in itself, every little duel with runners around you, every little verbal barrage with yourself (Sharlene admitted to me how she was cursing herself in her mind constantly, how many of us have not resorted to this technique?).

When is it that our heads drop and we say "let them go, I'll settle" or the more common "that's it", when is it we say "hell no", or even better "feck it" and just attack runners you've never beaten, athletes that make you think "I 'm not ready for these lads".

It's my gut feeling that while there is truly no magic to running, and training is your platform, and your foundation, champions, even those champions whose only medals are those forged from their own sense of over-achievement, are born in the furnace of a reckless and unswayable mind.

And this is good news, for all of us, because our minds are ours to play with, and make of what we want.