Lorraine Moller

The December 2009 issue of Running Times has an interesting set of mini-interviews titled "Pain: How Top Athletes Manage the Mental Stress of Racing" by Sarah Barker. The most sensible and inspirational commments are by Lorraine Moller, a New Zealander who's almost as old as I am and who won the Boston Marathon (1984) and took bronze in an Olympic Games marathon (1992). Moller observes:

I never thought about pain as a force to be reckoned with. Pain was a danger signal and I heeded it well, thus remaining mostly injury-free.

I don't like the word 'pain' to describe running. Pain is a completely different thing from being out of your comfort level, which most top runners relish and distinguishes them from less competitive people.

I spent more time carefully planning what I would do to combat self-sabotage than I ever did planning a strategy against a rival. Ultimately, the only rival is oneself anyhow.

In training, I would practice threshold runs with a heart rate monitor and, once I was going at maximum, I would scout for areas of tension in my body and see if I could relax them. Most often I could increase my pace by a few seconds without any increase in heart rate just by letting go. We think that faster means more effort. My intention was to go faster with less effort.

I've used tons of mental strategies, lots of games, like bargaining with myself—I'm going to go 10 more lampposts and see how I feel—breaking the race into small, doable segments.

The thought that's in your mind is immediately reflected in the body, and since the conscious mind can only attend to one thought at a time, I try to make that a positive one. In the Barcelona Olympics [bronze medal performance] I reached a point where I wanted to drop back from the pack. A negative thought. Instead, I ran to the front of the pack, just a few steps, and thought, 'Look, I'm winning.' I immediately felt better and stayed with the pack.


I just love that: Look, I'm winning!

(cf. Inventing a Running Machine (2008-03-06), ...) - ^z - 2009-12-12