Recently I have been reading a lot about the Western States 100 race that took place two weeks ago. Western States is a 100 mile trail race through some of the hottest and most rugged areas of California. Of course, as a trail runner, this race and the incredible athletes it draws always fascinates me. I was reading an interview with Kaci Lickteig who was the female winner (Article Here) talking about her training and race strategy.
What stood out to me was that in her description of her training and race day there is such a large emphasis on attitude. And I think what goes with intentional attitude is presence. Kaci set out on race day to “smile, smile, smile” and in a hot 100 mile trail race I would think that would take a lot conscious effort to keep doing. On top of that, she was maintaining focus on staying fueled and hydrated.
To me, this describes the power of being present. Kaci’s strategy wasn’t to fantasize about the finish line or dwell on past race outcomes. She kept smiling and staying focused on the incredible task of keeping her body running like a machine and a smile on her face. With that present awareness she was able to be pleasantly surprised the more she gained a lead on the other competitors. Even then, it wasn’t until mile 98 that she shares she started to think, “maybe I could win this.”
On the contrary, one of the male competitors who had set out to set a course record lead the race until a fateful wrong turn! I don’t know his full story, but I do know that speaks to being distracted in some capacity. Whether it was wondering thoughts or not staying properly fueled to keep focused, it is evidence of not being in the present moment.
The present moment is the only place that we are offered both good and bad opportunities and can enjoy respite from the anxiety or worry of being trapped in the future or the depression and regret of being trapped in the past. The present moment allows us flexibility to continually create our lives with what we are being handed at any moment.