I have a plan to race walk 20kms this year. There is a national race at the end of the year which I not only want to complete but also get a decent time in. As exciting as this is for me, it scares me a lot, to the point where I feel my body may have its own way of showing just how scared I am.
I took two weeks off training at the start of this month due to a left hip injury. Method of injury is unknown and it comes and goes, however, it always gets worse when I race walk or even before I start race walking. After two weeks of trying to do the right thing, seeking medical advice and doing rehabilitation exercises, the sharp pain continued to hit in my race walk warm up.
LEARNING: I used my knowledge of how pain happens in the body to make an informed decision to return to race walking in a relaxed environment at sunset (which was very pretty) and allowed myself to walk at an easy speed and comfortable distance. This relaxed approach allowed me to walk with zero pain, zero pressure and zero worries.
Sports psychology is such an important element when training ,as mindset and beliefs can have huge effects on physical outputs in performance and will impact the pain experience. Focusing my attention on my scary goal of walking 20kms was putting huge pressure on myself to perform and train harder every session. This training anxiety increased my nervous system’s resting state, making the pain experience more intense and with the result that those sharp pains to my left hip were especially bad just before a training session.
What’s next? Continue walking in a relaxed environment without focusing my attention on the long term goal. Listening to when my body is ready to step it up…. which I know won’t be long.
BIGGEST LEARNING: Long term goals are so important for direction, but not so important for focusing attention. Look to make short term goals month to month, which will equal your long term goal, this makes everything seem a lot less scary! 20km here I come!