There are two successes in playoff baseball: When the San Francisco Giants are in it, and when the Los Angeles Dodgers are not. It's really my only true "win-win" in the sport of baseball.
When the Giants opened up their brief 2016 playoff run at Citi Field against the Mets in early October, pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, took the mound. For those who take no interest in baseball, let's simply sum up Bumgarner as having some of the best post-season pitching performances and statistics in modern day baseball. When the Giants played the Mets with Bumgarner on the mound on October 5, 2016, MadBum continued his march into the history books by pitching a complete game, four-hit shutout. After his masterful, first game of the series pitching performance, catcher, Buster Posey, said, "Syndergaard was unbelievable. But there was such a calmness in our dugout. And I think it's safe to say Bum deserves a lot of credit for that."
With many local high school runners running regionals, state, and perhaps even nationals in the coming weeks, I couldn't help but connect Posey's post-game comments, about calmness amidst chaos, with the simplicity of cross-country running.
A few days after reading about Bumgarner's demeanor in the dugout, I came across another article, which name escapes me, that discussed the importance of competing with "simple thoughts." Simple Thoughts refers to the strategy of Self-Talk, a key tool in the realm of sport psychology.
Simple Thoughts refers to having confidence in what has brought you to your present state of qualifying for your next race. It means having confidence in your practices, confidence in your pre-race foods, confidence in packing the right gear, confidence in your pre-race and race strategies, and confidence in every move you make, all the way through the chute. These simple thoughts clear a path toward optimal, precision-filled thinking on the task at hand.
Though it can be technical, running is not rocket science. It's running. It's a 5k. To those of you running in the post-season in the coming weeks, keep your thoughts - your self-talk - simple. Be confident in the process that got you to this point, and be confident in your routines and race strategies.