Member Spotlight: How An All-American Runner Mentally Prepares For A Race

Member Spotlight: How An All-American Runner Mentally Prepares For A Race

Coach Kasye Beza is the head cross-country coach for The Community School of Naples. A three-time All American 400m runner, she holds the school record at Truman for that distance. 

How did you prepare mentally for race day?

When I ran track, I used to get myself into a “zone of focus before a race. I would complete my warm-up routine and stare down the lanes. I would tell myself I belonged there and that I owned the track. I would actually start yawning before a race because I was so relaxed.

During a race, I don’t remember thinking about anything, just doing it and pushing through the pain. I didn’t care what lane I was assigned or who else was in the race, or whether it was snowing, raining or hot outside. I did not let outside factors influenced me. We did a lot of drills and race modeling so my body knew what to do.

When I finished a race, I would return to a normal state instantly. I would be happy and cheerful, not tired, not stressed, no more yawning or tunnel vision.  Of note, my friend and teammate used to talk to herself aloud all the time and we all thought it was hilarious. Mine was more internal. 

How is this different from CrossFit training? 

At the gym, I can’t always be mindless because I am not always competing and I have to think about the movements more.  There are days when I do get into the zone and become blank, and there are days when I talk myself through a rep scheme or count a rhythm in my head. It’s easier for me when I have a number to strive for in a workout.

For instance, today, Coach told us that we were going to perform max rep push press for a minute but I didn’t know how many that would translate to. When he said we should get 20 reps, that was something I understood. I could focus on that number and achieve it, whereas, without that cue, I would not have felt as good. I didn’t stop at 20 if I could do more, but I also knew that 20 was a reasonable goal. Sometimes AMRAPS are hard for me because I want to know how many rounds I should get. I guess I am still getting used to the time element for CrossFit, which is different than it is for other activities, like running. 

Is it hard for you to commit to training? 

Left to my own devices, it is never a question for me whether or not to go to the gym. That is the same to me as for whether or not I’m going to shower today or go to work. Since it’s just part of my day, it isn’t ever an emotional decision whether or not to go. I wake up, I go to the bathroom. I put on my gym clothes. I’m  genuinely happy to be starting my day. I rarely even look ahead to see the workout unless I have a wardrobe consideration to make.

What’s hard is when I am on vacation or with other people. It’s hard for me to assert myself to others that I want to work out because I think it will be inconvenient for them or they will make fun of me. So, unless I can wake up early and sneak a workout in, I don’t usually do a workout when I am with other people.