No matter the skill set, it happens to the best of us athletes. We compare ourselves to other athletes, our “normal” skill set is suddenly hijacked by mental blocks, fear, and insecurities. Sometimes for no apparent reason, other times for the lack of confidence of not placing where you feel you should in a race. Sometimes it happens from injury, and fear takes over that it may happen again. All of these things happened to me in my first year of racing OCR – leading to it taking the fun out of the sport and me questioning why I even do it.
2018 was my first year of pro racing, in the sport of OCR, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I put in so much work in the off season in order to head into 2018 and compete with the best. But when it was time to put all that training to the test I failed miserably, or at least that is what my lack of confidence made me believe. Every race weekend I would look around at the field thinking I can’t beat her, nope no way can I complete that obstacle, why am I even doing this, I will never be at the top of the sport, so many other negative thoughts went through my head. Because of this fear, this lack of confidence, this negative energy – they all led to that type of performance.
2018 theme was bad performance after bad performance, and because of this, I quickly lost self-confidence. It increased my nerves and my anxiety, and lowered my concentration. The nerves I would build up before the race led to fatigue, tight muscles, and a faster heart rate which led to shallow breathing and lowered my self-esteem. My lack of concentration distracted me from the task I had planned, which almost always guaranteeing me another super frustrating performance.
After my first race in March of 2019, I realized I need to stop comparing myself to others and start comparing my achievements to my goals. 2018 was a learning season for me, as I learned that I cannot control what my competitors do, I can only concentrate on my own goals and hope that my best is good enough. I learned that I need to focus on what I do every day in training and when Saturdays roll around put that to work. It was time for me to stop focusing on how fast this person can run and instead focus on how fast I can run. To stop focusing on how strong that athlete is and focus on how strong I am. By doing this, I became more relaxed at the start line, still nervous but a different kind of nervous. It became an excited nervous, it became me versus me instead of me versus them.
Once I started focusing on my own race and stopped comparing myself to others, great things started happening. I started owning my own confidence, lining up in the front row instead of a few lines back, not comparing myself to others, and mostly the fun of the sport came back.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what your competition is doing, it matters what you are doing to better yourself and the outcome of your next race. Set goals and achieve them, then set new goals and only focus on that. You will be surprised at the outcome of your performance once you control where your concentration is focused.
by Chrissy McFarland
Follow her @csm.ocr