THIS WEEK THE FINAL SEASON OF THE TV singing talent show “American Idol” comes to an end. The finale is Thursday night. Whenever something is posted here that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with running, the questions is asked, “Why DOES this matter?”
It’s about MENTAL TOUGHNESS. Tuesday night there was a special in which contestants and winners of previous seasons, past and present judges, and people (like producers) who were operationally connected with the “AI” show were interviewed. The comments that struck me as significant concerned the preparation that was required to be successful as a contestant. Each week of the competition the stakes were HIGHER and the contestants had to “up their games” to move on. If the most recent performance was not judged to be their best, comments were critical, and elimination was imminent but did not occur, the singers needed to not only improve their voices but their “performances”. Above all singers had to select songs that best showcased their talent.
Isn’t this what we as runners preparing for our goal competitions also do, but on a less public and stressful stage? Matt Fitzgerald has an insightful piece on Competition.com about how to use each training session to prepare mentally for competition, "Don't Separate Mental Training From Physical Training" . Rather than just visualizing success, he contends that we might benefit more from scheduling and completing the kinds of training sessions that are designed to build real confidence in our capabilities. “Don’t worry about which workout you need to do to boost your VO2 max, and so forth.” he says. “Those details don’t matter. Just think about the sorts of specific training experiences you need to have behind you going into a race in order to arrive on the start line confident in your ability to achieve your goal.”
I very much enjoyed “American Idol” through the years. January though May of each year I was preparing to deliver a significant portion of the medical school pathology lectures for which I was responsible during these months in which the show was aired. I found the young people on the show inspiring. Surely I thought, if they had the courage to do what was required to prepare for their weekly performances, I could do the same to prepare to “perform” my lectures! (this was a terrifying experience for me for all the years I was a lecturer).
Whether or not you like “Idol”, read what Matt Fitzgerald has to say, and think about using every training session to mentally prepare for competition.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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