Monday, May 6, 2013

Artist in training

Back either the end of February or maybe it was March, I came across a post from my team for someone looking for participants in their thesis study for anxiety before competition. Upon seeing this I knew I had to jump aboard. I know that part of my "bad" performances in races is because I let my head get in the way. Though not apparent to the eye because I often try to hide it, I suffer from anxiety before races, and not the good kind that every athlete should have. Usually race day it's a median level, but days before is when it kicks in overdrive to a point that it's incredibly unhelpful and not facilitating. I start to get my head wrapped around every little detail of my race, not entirely a bad thing except while doing that I forget key components to my race body and mind. I don't eat properly, forget to eat sometimes, don't hydrate, and worry myself to not sleeping. This has been a problem for some time.
I'd like to say that I've exhausted all my possibilities with helping it but I know I could do more. One of my former teammates from Boston is a sports psychologist, we chatted once or twice about it, it helped a little but I definitely could of done more follow ups. I've incorporated music into my pre race routine, this actually has insanely helped with day of competition nerves. Self motivation talk, this helps until I let a hint of doubt creep in, then I'm dunzo. So after a few emails back and forth with thesis guy about the just of his study, I thought, why not it couldn't hurt.

The basic premise of his study was having athletes use art therapy as a way to ease anxiety before competition. I would spend an hour a week, once a week for 5 weeks drawing in journal, I started
April 2nd and finished up last Tuesday (April 30). It was an out of the box experience and took me out of my comfort zone. I'm no stranger to the art world, when I was young I was very into art and drawing (I've since retired that practice) and I've been camera/photography obsessed for I can't even remember how long (still am, hence the obvious 365 project rolling throughout this blog).  Though it was something that I loved to do at one point it was intimidating and slightly nerve racking at first. Eventually I settled in. We worked on ways to get my racing anxiety woes to be more controlled and put a plan of pre race action into action. Elicited drawings for me to look at and envision to evoke positive waves to ease my nerves. This helped because often times I see these things in my head but then my mind races elsewhere so it doesn't stick.
In the end I throughly enjoyed it. I'd like to think it leant at least a small helping hand to those couple early outdoor PRs (because it's the beginning of the season it's hard to say it's a definite). Either way it has help me feel more relaxed and calm. I will certainly keep it up and use it as a tool for upcoming races. I'd recommend trying it out.

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