It felt hotter than the sun as I ran through the streets of Boston. My legs felt leaden and my breathing was labored. Salt from sweat stained my sports bra and I could wring the water out of my running skirt from each pass through the open fire hydrants on the Boston Marathon course. It would be easy to back off on my pace, to essentially throw in the towel and to give up on my re-qualification goal. But rather than backing off I worked on quieting my brain and focused on what I could control during the run and I focused on what was working well. It has taking a whole lot of practice to learn focus like this.
My Mom and Dad signed me up for ice skating at an early age quickly realizing how important this sport was for helping me to learn focus and persistence even when everything is not going your way. I wanted to be the best, the next Dorothy Hamill. During our daily practices I would spend much of my time spinning and jumping, practicing lifts with a partner, doing endless figure eights, and ice dancing routines. But, I would also spend much of that time falling down . . . repeatedly. A perfectionist, this was incredibly hard for me. Frustration was a regular part of practice but something that I had to learn to work through if I wanted to be successful. It was easy to cry, to walk of the ice and to quit but my mom and my coach ensured me that if I focused on what was working well then I would find my way to success and land that axel after falling for what felt like a thousand times.
These early lessons in sport from my parents and my coach are something that I have always carried with me. If you know me, when it comes to goals I often pick big ones. Once I am on a clear path towards a goal I am able to be focused and driven to reach my end goal. Why should going for a Boston Marathon qualifying time, finishing a trail marathon, or completing a Half Ironman be any different than attempting to land a double jump on the ice for the first time. There is so much power within you to find the focus that you need to overcome perceived obstacles.
Before the Boston Marathon this year my coach reminded me to “focus on the things you can control” in the race. We knew the day would be less than ideal for running a marathon so in order to be successful I would need to be highly focused, this run was going to be mostly mental in order to push through the difficult parts of the run that we both knew would come. In the end this day turned into one of my best and most memorable races. You can read more about how the race went down in my 2017 Boston Marathon Recap.
What I have learned about being focused through athletics is now something that I apply to goals in my everyday life and you can too!
Here are some great tips for being more focused on your path towards a goal:
- Close your eyes and quiet your mind. Mindful meditation with deep breathing can be a useful tool.
- Practice visualizing your path to the goal.
- Make a list of mini goals and your end goal. Assess yourself along the way. How is it going?
- If you need to become focused during an event such as a race use positive mantras to guide you.
- During running, focus on your breathing, on your foot strike and on the relaxed energy of others.
- Acknowledge what is hard but don’t let that become your focus.
Who is Sandra L.?
Hi! I am Sandra Laflamme but if you are a runner or triathlete you might know me as Organic Runner Mom. I write a blog focusing on the amazing adventures of running and triathlon as well as organic food and healthy living. When I am not writing my blog I am chasing around my two crazy kids who have a passion for the outdoors, huge imaginations, and may even be forming an interest in running (we’ll) see. Our family also owns a successful Organic Egg Business, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, in New Hampshire where we love our hens and our family farmers. I am focused and driven in everything that I do but also love to let loose and laugh until my belly hurts with friends. Laughter is the best medicine, right?!
I am an adoring Skirt Sports fan ever since being gifted my first skirt before I had kids. Since I found Skirt Sports you will rarely seeing me running in shorts. The comfort and performance is hard to top. My current favorite pieces from Skirt Sports are the Cascade Skirt and Wonder Girl Tank (which I am so happy that they reintroduced this spring). And still nothing beats the original, The Gym Girl Ultra which has carried me through countless marathons.