Handling Race Pressure

Handling Race Pressure

Racing Insights

Gilesy explores the internal conflicts athletes face, emphasizing that true success stems from aligning feelings and instincts, and introduces somatic experiencing as a key method to prepare for challenges.

Unwanted pressure is unaccepted pressure. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Allow yourself to think what you think but don’t lose yourself in it.

Don’t go to war with yourself. The story of, I shouldn’t feel like this, I shouldn’t feel like that. It’s resistance.

The pressure is going to bring up all the little unresolved nuances in you that are usually kept at bay by your busyness and the lack of the downward pressure that you are now feeling as the natural anticipation of the race starts to make its presence felt.

Of course, you are going to feel it, because all the work you have done is about to be put to the ultimate test. We tend to think the pressure comes from outside sources, other people, loved ones, sponsors, peers etc, but the truth is the pressure is really coming from inside.

You are trying to measure up to a standard that you set for yourself, so you threaten yourself with thoughts of catastrophic failures and at the very same time threaten yourself with punishment if you should fail. Then, in the next moment, you are excited about what might happen. What if I have a great day?

You are nowhere near as scared of the course as you are of yourself. We’d love to shift the blame for that fear onto anything outside ourselves; the weather, the competition, the stories of why we didn’t train well and why we can’t be fully present with this race. Then you try to tell the world it’s all good while you desperately try to avoid this voice of dissent inside yourself. Yea, that’s right, you want it, but you don’t want it at the very same time!

The longing for wanting to succeed is actually a negative state, because the longing is the idea that you can’t have it nor attain it.

So it’s a dream state where you fantasise about what you want. But you are as afraid to try as you are to fail. It’s a bloody conundrum, isn’t it?

You don’t really want it because you are scared to risk it for the biscuit. To be seen in the full vulnerability of throwing the kitchen sink at it.

What if I fail?

Again, a negative longing and a narrative that you are drawing towards yourself. Ok, smart arse you are thinking, what am I going to do then?

Here’s the answer-Don’t do anything!

Just notice it. Now, pressure, like everything else in the energetic world wants to move, the pressure sticks to you like glue because you are resisting it, and what you resist persists!

So, because you are resisting the thinking, that voice of dissent inside yourself has gone from a faint mumble into a full blown roar. I haven’t got what it takes! How many times have you told yourself that bullshit story when you need it least?

Now this story deals in a dialogue of words, symbols, ideas and images. The experience you are lining up for though deals with feelings, instincts, will, desire, guts and heart. So the trick here is to visualise the outcome you want to “ feel”. Let the mind talk it’s shit, that’s just what it does.

There's something awesome about the sea and how you can't fight it, but if you work with it then you'll be ok
Photo by Ashley de Lotz / Unsplash

Think of that as a pressure valve. Let it go as fast as it builds. Let it flow, don’t block it, don’t resist it. But if you spend time in a quiet spot and visualise what you actually want to feel, sense and experience in this race, you are now programming your subconscious to replicate what you actually want to feel, not what you want to think.

So let me be brutally honest here with you, to make this as clear as I can:

Reality doesn’t give a shit what you think!

If you want to match the energy of excellence, you must meet its frequency. You won’t do that trying to think it, because it’s a piss poor replacement for the truth that you create the reality, not with what you think, but with what you feel.

It’s a sport-based model of something called Somatic experiencing, often used to treat trauma patients by directing the clients' attention towards internal sensations, interoception, proprioception and kinaesthesis rather than towards cognitive experiences. The method was developed by a guy named Peter Levine. kinaesthesia (or kinesthesia), is the sense of self-movement, force, and body position. It is sometimes described as the "sixth sense".

Now the point here is, we can create the conditions for success by visualising what it is we want to achieve in the felt sense, where you are informing that massive brain that we call the body of what it needs to feel.

Train it to respond to challenges. Not to react, but to respond, two completely different states.

Yes, you can absolutely train it. Ask yourself -

What do I want to sense?

What do I want to feel?

What will it feel like to thrive?

What it feel like to feel powerful and uninhibited?

What does strength feel like?

What do I want my body to give me?

Now, take that info, feel it, and practise, draw that energy towards yourself in the way it feels. Sit quietly, take yourself to the race, like you are actually there, go through the parts where you know you are going to be challenged and feel and sense yourself getting though it strongly and with good form.

What’s that feel like? Get intimate with that.

Photo by Mario La Pergola / Unsplash

Do it often and you vastly increase your chances of drawing that energy to yourself when you need it most. When the chips are down, don’t go up into your head, go down into your body.

When things go pear shaped as they always do in any endurance race, it’s about your internal response to the stimulus.

Working with the pure acceptance of what is going to happen brings you into alignment with the only thing that can help you when the chips are down, your ability to embody the thing even when it’s bad.

Your only way out is the same way you came in, through pure presence. Everything else is a story that’s not going to help you out here in this challenging moment.

We can’t change anything unless we can accept it ~ Carl Jung

Take your power into this race by accepting every moment leading into it, and you will notice yourself responding instead of reacting.

In between an impulse and a reaction is a space we call awareness.

Stay there!