With the summer Olympics coming I am getting stoked to watch the highest level athletes compete in track and field (the American trials are June 21-July 1st in Eugene!). One of my favorite events is the pole vault, and since I vaulted for many years I feel the need to give a little bit of education on the sport. Unlike most think, vaulting doesn’t actually require much upper body strength
What it does require is speed, power, technique, and confidence. When athletes combine all four of these athletic abilities, they are able to vault using larger poles which therefore toss them higher in the air. Vaulting on larger poles is the equivalent of being a more badass human specimen. The irony is as an athlete moves to a larger pole, a factor of doubt in their ability to properly execute enters often enters their mind. With doubt an athlete tends to run slower, jump with less power, and/or not take off with the same technique making the new larger pole no longer useful to them.
Running is similar. We need to take care to strike on our midfeet, extend each stride through the glute, keep our cadence quick but efficient, and keep our cores tight and chests tall. With race day approaching, it is vital to start running with confidence that you can do this. Everything you do in life is better when you believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in your ability you waver. You can probably attest from past experiences in relationships and work that when you doubted yourself things do not run as smooth. You have spent the past 20 weeks training to have the strength, form, and endurance to run a great race. If you doubt this ability you will undoubtably slouch, waste energy, run slower, than expected, and/or a combination of the above. Without confidence we can exaggerate movements leaving our stride tense. We want to feel loose and fast!
So from here on out, run with confidence. You have worked hard to build great form! Use it! Just like a vaulter can fail you if they don’t use the skill that got them to the next pole, you can fail if you don’t utilize the tools you have developed. If things don’t go right on race day, that is ok; but if you don’t go out trying with confidence and focus, you lose your opportunity to impress yourself.