Addie Bracy mental training for ultrarunning podcast

Mental Training For Ultrarunning With Addie Bracy

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Topics covered in this episode:

  • The mental side of ultrarunning
  • Understanding your “why” behind ultrarunning
  • Aligning your training with your values
  • How to focus on the process
  • The three different goals in sports psychology
  • Tips for dealing with stress and pressure
  • How to salvage a race when everything goes sideways

Guest Bio:

Addie Bracy is the author of Mental Training For Ultrarunning, a professional trail runner, and a Certified Mental Performance Consultant.

Read More About Addie Bracy:

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Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Corrine Malcolm (00:08):

How do you welcome to the show?

Addie Bracy (00:10):

Hi, thank you for having me.

Corrine Malcolm (00:13):

So I haven’t gotten to seen you in a while. I saw you back in June at Western states, and I just want to say congratulations on your most recent win at run rabbit run. I was so thrilled for you and that had to feel really good.

Addie Bracy (00:27):

Yeah. It felt like it was kind of years in the making, so thank you. Yeah. I was excited to have that outcome after a pretty rough Western state, so good way to end the year.

Corrine Malcolm (00:36):

Yeah. Coming back from a DNF, can’t be easy. And we’ll talk, I think we’ll get to talk about that a little bit during the show today, but you had a, you had a fan base rooting for you. And so I think we were just, um, I mean, I was texting with like Abby hall and some other folks, and we were just, you know, jumping up and down when those results came through. So big, big congratulations from our end on that. Um, we can’t wait to see what you run next, but I brought you into the show today to talk about the other side of your job. Obviously you’re a professional runner, but you are also really brilliant. And you wrote a book during the pandemic year, which I think might be more productive than many of us were. And I just of want to get a little bit of a sense for the origin story of that book. Like why, why did you write it?

Addie Bracy (01:23):

Yeah, it was kind of happenstance that it happened, uh, during COVID. I think I signed my book deal that winter, so it wasn’t the worst time for me to be trapped in my home as I think it would have taken me longer to write the book if it wasn’t during the pandemic. Um, yeah, honestly I wrote the book because I wish the book existed. It didn’t, you know what, maybe when I first joined the sport, um, I had started grad school in sports psychology, a master’s program in sports psychology, actually like right when I started running ultras. Um, so it was just kind of serendipitous, um, that I was exposed to these two worlds that are very much interconnected and related. And, um, a lot of it just stemmed from my own curiosity. Uh, I was a track athlete and so transitioning into ultras was pretty hard for me.

Addie Bracy (02:10):

And I was one of those people who didn’t have the success that I thought I would, you know, based on my, my running background and a lot of it was mental. Um, so I think I was kind of seeking a resource of like, okay, how do I figure this piece out? Uh, and the resource didn’t really exist. So, uh, it kind of started as, oh man, someone should really like write a book about this or write some kind of literature content about this. Um, and through some conversations with the mentors was kind of like, well, maybe I’m a good person to do it. Um, I have the training and the experience in psychology, but also in the sport. Um, so it was a really cool year of writing, probably one of the most beneficial, like professional things I’ve done to, I basically just got to like study sport psychology and ultra running for like a year and a half. So, uh, it was, it was a hard project, but it was really rewarding and I hope that it’s helpful to people. Um, I wish that, yeah, something like that had existed a couple of years ago when I first,

Corrine Malcolm (03:00):

Yeah. I hope it’s a tool that many of our athletes will get to benefit from down the road. I personally, I come from a ski background and I definitely did you ever read Terry orlex I’m in pursuit of excellence? Yeah, that was like my sports psych Bible, um, coming up and skiing just like for having, having tool sets. And I find, I found that your book had a similar flavor in the sense where it was like very it’s very practical. So we’ll keep talking about it throughout the course of this interview, but it is, it’s a practical, it’s a practical guide that is going to give athletes tools that they can put into practice. So I think that’s, I don’t know. I wish that I had had that too, um, coming into the sport. I think it’s very specific to our ultra running audience and that they’re going to benefit a lot from it.

Corrine Malcolm (03:45):

And I, I also love what you said there about, you know, you came into the sport as a very, very fast runner. You’re a very decorated on the road and on the track, um, having run collegiately and then post collegiately very successfully, I would say. Um, and yet, you know, I get to stand on the start line with people like you and I come from a ski background and I would, I would pride myself on kind of being a slower runner in that sense from a PR standpoint, but we all get to duke it out there on the trail. There’s a leveling that happens. And so, you know, we probably joke with some of our athletes that alternating success is 80% mental. And while it’s probably impossible to actually quantify that for every individual and every race, that’s going to be different. I’m wondering from your experience over the past, you know, like, let’s say two years of studying of being in the sport of writing this thing, you know, through your own experience in coaching athletes, I know you coach as well. Um, what might you pinpoint there that sets like sets that mental side apart from the physical side, right? Like what, what can we look at as like, oh, these are the things that sets a fast runner, any runner up for failure potentially in ultra running due to the, not the physicality, but the psychological component of it.

Addie Bracy (05:01):

Yeah, you’re right. And I will say like my thesis about like, why I wanted to write the book was kind of what you just described, right. Is, you know, I, I kind of had this theory and again, these are just my opinions. They’re not based on actual research, but I kind of thought, you know, if you were to take the top 10 finishers at, um, I don’t know, the Olympics 5k final or 10 K final, and we’re to do all the physiological testing and measurements and to look at their training, they’re all doing probably versions of the same thing. They all are probably very physiologically gifted. Uh, and if anything, the people that are performing better probably have some marker that suggesting that. And I’m not saying that the mental piece doesn’t make up a component of those kinds of racing like races and those distances, of course it does.

Addie Bracy (05:43):

But if you were to take a Western states and do the same testing on the top 10 finishers at Western states, you know, it’s going to be all over the map. And so I’m never suggesting that is aren’t physical. You know, you got to have the training and the talent and the skills that has to be there. But I guess my opinion is that like the threshold, the barrier for entry is lower and that the psychological piece makes up a bigger piece of the pie. I think it’s more important or at least equally as important and maybe takes it the bigger piece of the pie than some more traditional distances. You know, it doesn’t matter how mentally sound you are. If you don’t have a certain, um, physical skillset, you’re not going to run a 15, 10 5k, like no matter what, you know, but we’ve seen some really amazing things happen on the trails.

Addie Bracy (06:25):

And so I guess that’s the way I describe it is I just think that the things that you face out on the trail, uh, if you’re not psychologically and mentally prepared, has the potential to really derail you maybe more than some more traditional distances. Uh, just the sheer number of uncontrollables and ultra and show racing is that was a big learning curve for me. You know, I was used to racing in pretty controlled environments and there’s, there’s nothing controlled about being out on the trails. Um, so in our sports specifically, I guess some of the big key things I’ve seen are that, uh, the lack of control and the way the athletes approach that you see people like yourself in the Courtney’s and the, you know, all the leaders in the sport are very like adaptable and maybe aren’t rattled by things that pop up in a race it’s just treated as part of racing ultra instead of like an inconvenience or something bad that’s happening.

Addie Bracy (07:16):

So that’s a big piece of the adaptability and problem solving and kind of staying calm. Um, another piece I think that can be tough is the, the gap between like practical experience in training and then race demands. Um, you know, if you’re training for a marathon, you’re probably doing an 18 mile long run, like pretty close to marathon effort or something like that. At least I did when I was training for a marathon. So you’re not hitting exactly race gummies, but you’re getting, you’re getting it within striking distance, but for an ultra, I mean, you’re doing what, like a 35 mile run before a hundred mile race. So, um, the self-belief and the confidence and the calmness to believe that you’re capable of something that really, you have no tangible, actual evidence to say that you can reasonably as like a big, that was hard for me.

Addie Bracy (07:58):

I’m like, what the heck? I don’t know, like, how do I know if I’m ready to? And I coach myself. So that was like a hard part is like, no idea if I’m ready for a hundred, my 35 mile run went well, but that’s like a third of the distance. So I’m kind of long-winded. But yeah, I think it’s just the sheer level of uncontrollables and so many factors that are not small things or big things that require a lot more like mental and psychological resilience, um, adaptability problem solving, and then just like discomfort. I mean, again, you talk about, I think back to my 5, 10, 10 K days, and I’m like, okay, the last mile, it’s going to be really hard. That’s like, what, five minutes, six minutes. And in an ultra you’re talking about suffering for 12 hours or more. So even that piece too is not necessarily not necessarily learning how to suffer, but at least to co-exist with pain and discomfort. And maybe to, I talk about the stuff that happens in races, and it’s like, we’re constantly information processing or processing information. And, uh, being able to tell what is feedback and what’s a distraction. And sometimes pain is just a distraction and needs to be treated that way. And that takes practice.

Corrine Malcolm (09:03):

Yeah. It’s a, it’s like the emotional response to that pain is what becomes the bigger indicator of success or not, right? It’s that like, you, you, there are controllers, there are lots of uncontrollables, obviously in our sport where there are controllables. And I do think that like, those, those skillsets that we’re gonna talk about in a little bit are so important for ultra runners, both at the highest level and at the every man level to really have a handle on, because that is going to determine, you know, when you’re sitting at the mile 78 station and you don’t want to continue if you’re going to get back out of that chair. I also love that. I mean, obviously I, I raced on loan for a college cross country team, um, for running like did not, was not my, it was not my main sport, but I, I love the, there there’s a forgiving aspect of ultras, I think at all levels where it’s like, if something goes wrong, you also have time to course correct.

Corrine Malcolm (09:55):

And so that’s like a, an uncomfortable gift that we all get in our sport. So it’s like, you have to learn the, you have to develop the skills and the tool set to be able to course correct, obviously. But, um, I do like that. We have you, you have a low and it’s okay. Versus it’s a lot harder to have a low and still hit that Olympic marathon trials time, you know, at CIM or something. That’s a very different, a different ball game when that, that slips. Um, unfortunately, but I think one of the, the, the, my favorite chapter of, of your book, I think besides the injury chapter, we’re not going to talk about injury, um, injury psychology today, but, um, because I’m personally slowly recovering from injuries, I really loved that chapter. But the second chapter of the book, really kind of the intro in a lot of ways, it is about, about why, like, why might you do something kind of those intrinsic motivators?

Corrine Malcolm (10:47):

And we’ve all experienced, you know, telling someone you’re on a hundred, you’d mentioned this in the book, you tell someone you’ve run a hundred and they’re like, uh, first response is like, well, why, why do you run hundreds? And that’s not a bad question, obviously. That’s a good, that’s a good question to ask. And so I’m wondering, I know that we stress that importance with our athletes, like of knowing your why. And I’m wondering from seeing, keep using the word, why a lot here, why is that important? And what does that look like in practice to establish that? Why?

Addie Bracy (11:17):

Yeah, I mean, part of it is training for ultras is time-consuming like, it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of motivation. Um, I think this, the story I shared in the book that was a good example of this is his core Gallagher and her kind of connection to her personal, um, I don’t know, like missions, job, you know, of advocacy and climate justice and that kind of thing. And so when I say that, I don’t even necessarily mean why, just in the sense of like, why won’t run this race, but really connecting it to your life and your personal values. Um, it makes me more invested in the outcome. It makes the process itself feel like purposeful. Um, and I think you’re right. A lot of us do like, yeah, yeah, I know it’s important to have a wine, but most people don’t necessarily sit down and like, think about it and identify it and kind of decide what living that out would look like.

Addie Bracy (12:05):

Uh, and I think I, I had experienced in my own personal career of, uh, training and going through the motions and putting the time in, but really not being like connected to the process of like competing and I wasn’t racing well, even though the training was there and the preparation was there, it was, there’s just like, there’s a level that wasn’t being unlocked because I wasn’t like necessarily connected to the outcome and that doesn’t even have to be the objective outcome. It could be connected to the process. And, um, I mean, that’s why I run ultras is, um, you know, the, the experience of it and the feeling of pushing yourself through those, like, I’ll, I’ll run ultras and race cultures until I can’t anymore, you know, far beyond when I’m winning races. Um, so yeah, I just found that it makes it more enjoyable.

Addie Bracy (12:50):

It also surprisingly, um, it sounds counterintuitive. I just went through this exercise with an athlete yesterday, but I talk a lot about like values based living and we’re not just athletes, like we’re multidimensional people. And when I think back to times in my career where I was really focused when I was a track athlete, uh, and thought that like, to be the most committed athlete and to have the best chance of success, like that needed to be the top priority, you know, if it was a decision between going to a friend’s wedding and a race that was that weekend, like I was going to go to the race, if it was a decision between, um, I’m tired. I don’t really feel like getting up and doing the training, but I’m going to do it, whatever it was, it was always I’m going to choose the thing that means I’m more dedicated to the sport and the results actually weren’t that great.

Addie Bracy (13:33):

And, and, and, and, and even more importantly, I didn’t enjoy it that much. Uh, and then when things aren’t going well, and there’s this resentment factor of like, God, I was putting everything into it and it, and it wasn’t even, I don’t even know that it was worth it. And now that, that thing didn’t happen. Like, what am I even connected to? So I even kind of mean just why in general, like as a person, how do you want to go out and exist in the world and interact with the world? And what I found is that when you can do that, number one, when you’re out there on the trails doing a seven hour run by yourself, you either, you know, you know, it’s purposeful, even if it’s not enjoyable in the moment, you can connect it back to like why this is important, why this is part of your like personal mission statement, which I think is an exercise in the book.

Addie Bracy (14:12):

But on the other token, I am juggling more in my life now than I ever had professionally. And arguably just competed better than I ever have. Um, because I’m not just an athlete and I have other things that are important to me. So when I do something like a day when I’m really busy with work and clients, and I maybe miss my run or cut my run short or whatever it is, like, I don’t see that as me abandoning my athletic pursuits. I see it as me investing my time in another value that’s equally as important. Um, so it’s kind of a holistic, comprehensive thing of really just like your wife or how are you going to spend your time on this planet and how does running fit into that? And how does running connect to all the other ways that you want to spend your time in a way that just makes me feel super fulfilled? Uh, it really sets people up for success, but more importantly, to just be happier and healthier and have a more, um, productive and healthy athletic identity.

Corrine Malcolm (15:03):

Yeah. It feels much more holistic. And I think that ultra running naturally has maybe more of a holistic flavor to it. Then these Olympic discipline sports I’ve been in that same boat where it was like, you know, you’re working every single day for this thing. That’s going to maybe happen in four years. And there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen in four years. It’s very different than going to medical school or law school, or getting a master’s degree where it’s like, if you do the work, there’s this definitive outcome and in Olympic sport, it’s like, so not the case. You do the work, you do the work every day for four years. And at the end of that Olympic cycle, you might have nothing, you know, quote unquote, nothing to show for it. It’s, it’s just this devastating experience, um, that my household knows all too well on the mountain bike and in, in the sport of biathlon.

Corrine Malcolm (15:49):

So we were probably in a very similar position towards the end of your track and road career and towards the end of my biathlon career and Steven’s mountain bike career is that it wasn’t fulfilling anymore. And you kind of, I felt like the Y’s had to be flexible. Like, yes, I want to make this team, or I want to run this time. But that, like, I like what you say about values, about having other things that align with, with your why. And I’m wondering, you know, yes, we’re talking about high-performance athletics, but at the same time, like you and I both work with, with parents, with moms and dads and people who have these careers, and I’m wondering how can those athletes have this, like, use this like kind of fluid value in their why to let it adapt so that they can continue to have that why motivate them wall? You know, the things in their life might be shifting around a little bit. And so their, why has to shift around to like, what, what can that look like in practice?

Addie Bracy (16:45):

Yeah, I’m a big believer in your why being flexible. And, and honestly, I’m a big believer in value is being flexible. I don’t think that that’s necessarily, there might be some trends throughout life, but those things change too. I had an athlete recently, um, who was getting ready to race, a big race that he had been preparing for for a long time. And it was, uh, kind of stressed or dealing with a little bit of a lack of competence for maybe not doing as much training as he wanted to, or had intended to. And as we talked further, it came out like he had a newborn there just like wasn’t as much time. And so one of the things that was cool was by having this conversation of like, well, actually, like you should feel very, you should feel great, right? Like you were juggling these two really important values of, yeah.

Addie Bracy (17:26):

I still want to have some autonomy and I still want to push myself, um, and have the space in my life to go after something that is important to me, this race, but also I’m a new dad and I’m a husband and a partner. And, um, it wasn’t, once you can reframe the perspective of thinking like, oh, I mean, I didn’t, I didn’t train as much as I needed to. And instead, see actually I put in a heck of a good effort with the time that I had while I was also committing time and effort into these other things that are important. So I can’t remember where I read this, but this concept just like blew my mind and kind of has changed things for me and how I live my life in the sense that it could at surface level appear to be restrictive, to think like, okay, let me pick like four values that are important to me.

Addie Bracy (18:09):

And then that’s going to like guide how I live my days, but it actually is. It’s the opposite. It’s very empowering and like broadened the options for the day, right? Like if you have four or five different things that are really important to you, then you can walk away from a day. Instead of saying like, oh, I’m so mad at myself that I only ran six miles when I had eight on my schedule. And instead say like, cool. I, I D I put an hour in towards getting to be a better athlete. I had a wonderful dinner with my family. I, whatever, you know, related to work or whatever your values are. Um, so kind of thinking about it that way, I think can cause some comfort and also just some empowerment and, and help people recognize, like, it’s not just about checking the miles off the list.

Addie Bracy (18:50):

And so with that example in mind, like, yeah, values and why is going to change over time, it’s going to adapt and it, and it should. And in some ways that’s maybe where I see more of a sticking point is where people’s lifestyle and maybe situation changes, but they’re not willing to adapt. That was me when I went to grad school and I went to grad school while I was coaching full-time at a high school while I was competing and training as a professional athlete. And so in my mind, I’m like, oh yeah, I’m still going to train the same amounts. This is the same dedication. I’m going to get my nap every day. I’m going to get my nine hours of sleep. And it was like the first year I was like, no, I have to. And it was, I was unwilling and I was commuting an hour and a half each way.

Addie Bracy (19:26):

So I was unwilling to adapt and change my values race terribly that year. Then my second year of grad school, like totally shifted everything. Uh, my perspective and how I was looking at my days and was training less, but racing better because I was seeing, you know, the days that I was in class and at internship all day was like, okay, but I didn’t get my run in. I just worked at the Olympic training center for three hours and that’s, that’s also a value and like a goal that I have as a, as a human. Um, so sometimes the rigidness and resistance to shifting those things and like maybe addressing those things causes more of an issue than being willing to do that, which is kind of interesting how that works out.

Corrine Malcolm (20:02):

Yeah. I think that we’ve all, I mean, I’ve been there. I was like, yes, this resonates with me. I have been this person. I think Brad Stohlberg, maybe that was one of the people who’s written about it. I feel like he’s been a saving grace in my life talking about balance, this idea that I could, I had this notion that I could balance everything perfectly like, oh, everything will be in balanced at all times. Like that’s holistic. And it’s like, actually, probably not. Like, and I think that aligns with those whys and those values where it’s like, even within a training cycle or like a race cycle, right. Like there’s going to be times where things are dramatically out of balance for a short period of time, because, you know, like you’re leaning into that. Why for the race, and maybe that means you have to lean out of like family responsibilities for that, that weekend or that week or whatever it is.

Corrine Malcolm (20:45):

And I think as long as you’re upfront with yourself and know that you might still have to be adaptable on top of that, but it’s this that has saved me the whole idea where like, balance is a fallacy in that, like, we can, we can adapt that stresses stress. And I think that that’s an important message for everyone is that, yeah, you’re right. Like you couldn’t train quite as much, but you raised better because you found this way to like, you know, even, even the stress scales out a little bit, um, which we’ll talk, I think more about as we like talking about like putting this into practice, like in the, in the pre-race phase, but kind of one last question on this. Why, because I really liked the section about kind of goals. And I talk with all my athletes about like, okay, let’s, let’s have manageable goals.

Corrine Malcolm (21:27):

Let’s have, you know, these things that were in a and check the boxes. Right. Type of thing. And I think, you know, I look at like my teammate, Tom Evans, um, and he stresses this idea of process, not performance, or, you know, it’s about the journey, not the outcome. And I think it’s easy to say, and it’s sometimes hard to practice, but I’m wondering, you know, what does that, what does that mean as far as, you know, in terms of like having a goal strategy is one better than the other, as far as like focusing on, on what you’re doing day in and day out that process aspect versus like, here’s my goal at this, a race. And like, how does that, how does that balance out as far as like putting weights into those different types of goals?

Addie Bracy (22:06):

Yeah. I guess the way that I like to think about that when I hear the comment process over outcome or process over performance, I don’t think of it as in the sense of like the adventure, like the journey is worth more than the destination or more important, important necessarily, or I don’t look at it as suggesting that the outcome isn’t important. I mean, we’re, we do an objective score. Like I very much care if I win a race or not. Does that going to like, am I not going to go on the journey? If I know that that’s not going to happen now, I still am, but I’m not going to pretend like I don’t want to quote unquote, win, whatever, whatever wins is in that moment. But I think of it more as a suggesting where you’re the, the majority of your focus and attention should be.

Addie Bracy (22:47):

So when I think about like an outcome goal, I always have some pushback from athletes when I, when I say this at first, but the outcome, like in and of itself isn’t necessarily within your control. You can’t, I can’t just like have in my head right now say like, I want to win this race and then that’s it. I kind of stop there. And then I do my training and then I get there. I’m like, okay, I just want to win this race. And there was like, no other thought put into it. It’s if that’s the objective, if you want to get to this place, how do you get there? Like, what are the points along the way? How do you know if you’re getting closer to the destination? What are like the different turns? Like, what does it look like? And so when you can kind of back up and see that, uh, the process becomes just maybe more of the focal point and this isn’t a macro scale, you know, like within a training block, but this is in a micro scale, like within, within a race, like I’ve seen myself make huge mistakes and races where all I had in my head was like, I have to podium where I have to place it or whatever in place I needed to get in that racer that I thought I needed to get.

Addie Bracy (23:43):

And that’s all I’m thinking about. And I’m like, so urgent and like not stopping long at aid stations. And all I can think about is like, this place is third place or whatever it is, and it’s not productive. It’s not something that’s in your control in the moment. It’s not something that, um, it, it takes your focus away from the president, which is really all you have control over. So I guess I kind of think of, um, focusing on the process and the journey as just being where the majority of your energy should be. It’s not suggesting that the, the destination isn’t important. And then in the sense of goals, any yeah. Process goals are where, um, there’s, there’s three kinds of goals in sports, psychology, there’s, um, performance goals, outcome goals, and process goals, process goals should take up most of your effort and attention.

Addie Bracy (24:27):

Um, it, it also serves as kind of like guideposts and, uh, like focusing attention. I have to be careful not to go on a tangent is once you can understand, like, I can just like go off and start talking, but focusing attention. Um, when you think about it in a very like objective psychological sense, that’s what racing is. It’s distraction management a hundred percent. And so when you have process goals, you kind of only not only have like, built in, um, like breadcrumbs to make sure you’re still on your path to reach the outcome you want, but you have built in like focal points to help manage distractions that might pop up. If you weren’t thinking about those things, or you didn’t have these process goals of like, okay, if this is my goal, where, where do I, like, how do I need to execute this race?

Addie Bracy (25:11):

So it serves to both give you the feedback of like, okay, you’re on the right track. You don’t need to be thinking about mile 100 right now. Like you knew that this is where you want it to be in this moment, or this is what needed to happen in this moment. But it also serves as a point to kind of like, bring that attention back when it does start to like stray towards, um, the various distractions. So outcome and performance goals, they have a place they’re motivating. It’s there is a purpose. It’s hard to know how to get somewhere. If you don’t even know where you’re going. Um, so they, it’s not like they deserve to be a part of the equation and they deserve to be, um, thought about and invested in, but most of the success and most of the productive, um, I don’t know the most of like the productiveness comes from focusing more on the process goals. Uh, both, like I said, in the macro and the micro sense.

Corrine Malcolm (26:01):

Yeah. I’ve always been of the mindset. And I think it’s because I just watched athletes spiral, like at a, at a, um, I don’t even ever do like a junior level competitively of like being so caught up in that, like, as you said, like, I need to be fifth, I need to be first and it’d be third, whatever it is, as opposed to focusing on the, like things that they could control the, like, I always tell my athletes, I’m like, okay, like we’ve got this Eagle and this beagle and the seagull for this race, but we also have like the check-ins like, am I taking care of myself? Am I running within my means in this moment? Am I hydrating? Am I eating? Am I, did I take care of my feet? If I done a systems check, like what what’s going on type of thing.

Corrine Malcolm (26:39):

And I’m always like, you know, if you do the little things, if we do the little things in training every day to do the little things in training, every block, if we do the little things in the race, the outcome that we want should just happen in a way, like, that’s kind of like, maybe that’s, you know, uh, not dissociative, but like, uh, I, for me personally, that’s always alleviated that stress, that performance stress is like, I’m doing the little things. Therefore this should be the outcome type of thing, as opposed to being like, I have to wrap all my energy. And I think I’ve taken that into my, my coaching strategy and prepping athletes for these races too, is like the we’re gonna have these little check-ins and we’ve got these outcome goals, but we’re going to try to stay, you know, oriented towards putting most of our energy into the things that we can, you know, control in the moment or in the next moment versus I don’t know.

Corrine Malcolm (27:28):

Yeah. That obsession of the time, oftentimes with our athletes, right. It’s not necessarily place even, it’s a, at the time I want to finish it under 24 hours or under 30 hours or whatever it is. And I’ve seen that spiral by mile 30 of a race because it’s too, it’s too obsessive. So thinking about obviously, you know, the things that we have to do during race day, and like you’ve mentioned, ultra is a weird sport where we don’t get close to our race time in training, right? Like we’ve got a, we’ve got a bridge, a huge gap here. So what can athletes do? Like what are some of the important things that they can take into their lives today into their training over the winter, you know, in, into all those moments to prep, for the challenges that they might face during race day? Like what can they put into practice?

Addie Bracy (28:19):

Yeah. I guess to go back to the point I was making kind of earlier when, when I’ve reflected on races, um, a lot, my own actually like the Western states to run rabbit run, uh, those two experiences were so polarizing. And I think actually like very good examples of this concepts that I’m going to talk about, which is, um, information processing. Like I was talking about earlier, I’m pretty big on the brain and just understanding how the brain works. It makes me feel better sometimes because what I try and tell him with athletes is like, even though it doesn’t feel like this, like your brain is not trying to sabotage you, it really isn’t, you’re on the same team. And when it’s doing things that maybe feel self-sabotaging, uh, it’s actually just trying to protect you or, you know, there’s some kind of like core issue happening.

Addie Bracy (29:02):

Um, so I’m really big on kind of understanding these things and what I started to think about some of my races, um, and processing information, like I said earlier, there’s feedback and there’s distractions. And I was very much confusing. The two, like when I can think back to some races that I did really poorly, like a Western states, right? Like where, what place I was in, how fast I was running, where the other women were, how long they were stopping at aid stations, that was all distraction that I was taking this feedback of like, okay, I gotta keep hustling. I gotta stay in this position. Uh, the heat, my nutrition, the fact that I was running out of water between eight stations, I was treating that as a distraction. Like this was really annoying that I feel so hot. This is really annoying that I’m so thirsty.

Addie Bracy (29:43):

Uh, when in fact it was like the opposite. I should have been treating the other things as a distraction and treating this stuff that was happening in my body as feedback. Um, so that’s something that takes practice. That’s something that you can do all day constantly. That’s not like in a situation isolated to sport, that’s a situation we’re all facing probably in our jobs, just in day-to-day life. So the better you can get at sifting through the information that we’re constantly getting day in and day out and get better at recognizing, okay, what should this information is feedback that I can take and then kind of analyze and say, this, is this something that like, should I be changing what I’m doing right now? Like, is this feedback that is suggesting like, oh, okay, maybe I should do this and adapt and pivot is this feedback that I’m doing things well, but I should keep doing what I’m doing, or is this a distraction and a distraction that just needs to be like dismissed.

Addie Bracy (30:29):

And that’s, that’s something that takes practice too. It’s not easy to just ignore things that are distractions. Like, that’s why they’re called distractions. Um, so even just kind of taking that into day-to-day life and into training can help, um, athletes just become like better at that in general, I guess the other piece, which is similar to that, um, I would say probably the hands down most important skill probably as a human being, honestly, but definitely as an athlete is just, self-awareness like wanting to understand yourself better. Um, we, we probably don’t take a look and analyze like our behaviors and what’s causing those behaviors on a day-to-day basis as much as we should. Um, whether that’s, you know, from a training standpoint, from productivity at work, like whatever it is times I’ve done that. And like been honest with myself and, and, and realize like, oh man, I said, I said, I really want to do accomplish this goal.

Addie Bracy (31:21):

But when I reflect on my last week, like there was actually a lot of behaviors that kind of conflicted with that, that didn’t, aren’t really getting any closer to that. So, um, yeah, I think just kind of like information processing, understanding, feedback and distractions, um, kind of inherently helps with the self-awareness, but really just understanding, you know, we’re constantly, uh, I guess I describe humans and like a brain as being like association machines, like things are happening every day and then we kind of were reacting because of it. And that’s how, you know, it makes it efficient, but it also creates kind of bad habits in some ways. So kind of just taking time in this winter period when it’s, in some ways like an off season and understanding yourself better understanding what kind of environment, thoughts, feelings lead to the behaviors you want and what kind of environments, thoughts and feelings lead to the behaviors that you don’t want, um, gives you a lot of insight into yourself and can kind of take all this information and knowledge, you know, into post winter in the spring, into racing season, where you just have a jumpstart on really understanding what makes you tick in the way that you want to.

Addie Bracy (32:19):

And maybe what’s kind of standing in the way of the things that you want to accomplish. So I don’t know if that was tangible enough, but in terms of the feedback and distraction exercise, I have athletes do that the week before it race, you know, let’s go through and identify the different things that might pop up. Is that a distraction or is that feedback? And that can change based on the point in the race, it could change and you know, whether it’s my 50 or 80 or whatever it is. Um, but yeah, maybe even doing that in day to day life, I know I could be more productive just in general.

Corrine Malcolm (32:46):

Yeah, I was gonna say, I think I, I, I F I joke that I do so much better with those things when I pin a bib on like, I’m terrible at it in my day-to-day life, but you put a race bib on me and it’s like, I can troubleshoot really well. So I think that’s a great, like, we should all be practicing that. And I’m wondering, this is kind of something that I’ve always hung on to a little bit. And in w within like sports psych is that there are things happening around me, but I get to, I get to choose how I react to them. And is that part of the information processing thing? Like, it’s in a lot of ways it’s emotional and I’m not saying emotions are bad here, but it is like, be it, be it information processing or understanding that it’s a distraction and you get to choose how you react to it. How is that just akin to that practice? Or is there something specific there about like going through the motions of understanding how you traditionally react and what, how you’re going to change, you know, in the moment and during training during your Workday, during the race, that emotional response to that distraction?

Addie Bracy (33:42):

Yeah. I mean, it’s all those things are habits and you make a good point when there’s emotions involved, it can be harder. Um, a lot of times to, you have to really consider like biology and our nervous system in fight or flight, you know, a lot of times when there’s emotions involved or, um, something’s more heightened or intense, we kind of dip into that sympathetic nervous system fight or flight mode, which is less logical thinking. It’s less like rational thinking and more instinct. Um, so that’s, I actually, literally this morning was reading a book about, about some of these things, but it was talking about like the reasons why firefighters do drills and repeat things. So many times is because it’s the building this habit. So when there are emotions present, or when there is just like of like a higher pressure or, um, what’s the word I’m looking for?

Addie Bracy (34:28):

Like, there’s more at stake, they can still make the right decisions. And so the problem is athletes is like, when we feel nervous or we feel urgent in a race when things aren’t going well, those, those are moments when our sympathetic nervous system is kind of taking over. And we’re in some ways at the mercy of, of just like how our minds are going to decide to react or respond and without practicing those things, um, which could even just be imagery and visualization. Like, it’s very hard to simulate that it’s very hard to like, just put yourself in that situation on a weekly basis to practice. But if you’re not thinking about it, you’re kind of just at the mercy of how your, your mind decides to react. And so I think of like responding and reacting as being two different things, reacting, it’s kind of like, oh, I just like quickly made a decision and maybe didn’t like, logically think it through.

Addie Bracy (35:12):

I just went based on the emotions and like how my body was feeling, um, versus like responding, which is more analytical, but sometimes there’s not time for that. So, yeah, it’s important to kind of go through these processes, like processes of thinking about this ahead of time, which isn’t fun. It’s not just fun to think about all the things that will go wrong, but I didn’t think about that for my first hundred mile race, my first hundred mile race. I I’m embarrassed to say this now, but I came into the sport and like did pretty well early on, I did my first 50 mile. I think I did two 50 miles in like a two month period and was like, I’m crushing it. Like I got this thing figured out. So I may, I may as well do a hundred. And in two months that sounds, that sounds like I’m going to nail it, but I do let go 100.

Addie Bracy (35:53):

I do all the training. I’m like, I got this. Like, I can win this thing in my suite. Uh, and every, when everything derailed, I panicked, I was like, what is happening? I’m throwing up. I’ve never thrown up before, like what’s going on. And my feet hurt so bad. Um, and literally with like having a full blown panic attack in the race, like, I don’t know what to do. I’m freaking out, like, this is not good. And then I think back to run rabbit run, and I’m like running five miles to go puking. And like, not even stopping, like doesn’t even bother me because of like my perception of what the thing meant before. It meant like radar, like red flags, like lights are going off like this isn’t, this is not good crisis crisis. Um, because I hadn’t thought about it or planned it. And I, hadn’t kind of ingrained in my mind of like, this isn’t a dire situation. This is okay. And so now kind of having been exposed to those things, my mind is like, eh, things get serious. We’ll let you know, but you’re fine. Keep running. Everything’s cool. So I kind of got on a tangent there, but it’s just funny to think back to myself, even in these scenarios and remember how my mind reacted in those moments of like sheer panic.

Corrine Malcolm (36:53):

Yeah. Versus having that you’re right. Like firefighters, EMT, first responders, these people that they are like military personnel. Right. They, they are put through simulated scenarios so that when they get to that actual scenario, they don’t panic ideally. Right. That’s that’s the goal. The goal is at that training is, is hard enough that the actual crises event that they’re in isn’t as hard and I can alter training. Isn’t exactly like that. But I kind of, I tell athletes like, Hey, intervals are going to be hard. Right. Like maybe you don’t want to do them. Maybe you’re going to sit in your car at the trail head for 20 minutes. Like that’s okay. Because we’re practicing, like being uncomfortable or practicing, you know, taking on this thing that might not make us feel good the whole time. Like you’re going to have self doubt. I have, there are so many interval sessions that I finished and I’m like, oh gosh, that was terrible.

Corrine Malcolm (37:45):

I’m terrible. And then I like, go look at the data. And I’m like, oh, it felt terrible because I was running really hard. Like I’m actually in okay. Shape. Like it takes hindsight, but in a race, you don’t always have that. Which is like just a conundrum of, I think, experience. You speak to experience you like your first episode vomiting during a hundred panic, next episodes, vomiting during ultras. You’re like, oh, okay. Like this happens, right. Like it’s a weird sport that sometimes that’s why we do say like age oftentimes is a huge benefit in the sport, because experience is hard to top because training can’t merge that, that gap bridge the gap between the longest training you’ll ever do and, you know, running you TMB or Western states or Leadville, so such good things to put into practice. And then I’m wondering, we talked a lot about like things going wrong in races, so to kind of move us forward and they’ve done the training they’re physically prepped.

Corrine Malcolm (38:37):

Hopefully they’ve got, they’ve done some mental prep. I always talked about. I joked in skiing that I always got nervous before races. And we would joke that, you know, you’re just getting the butterflies in your stomach into like V formation, like ready to fly. Like it’s okay to be nervous. We just need to like orient this in a positive direction. And I’m wondering what can athletes do when they do have that? They feel that stress or that pressure going into an ER, race environment. I, you know, I look at UT B and I honestly think one of the reasons why we I’m going to, I’m going to generalize here. We as Americans. Okay. And the women have done better than the men. They’re like, we will say that historically, but we don’t do well there. And I wonder part of it is because we blow it out of proportion. We say, this is UT and B. It means more, it’s more important. It’s really hard. But the truth is, it’s just another a hundred. So what can athletes do when they feel that stress or pressure going into any race, or maybe it’s there a race, like how can they handle that? How can they adapt to it?

Addie Bracy (39:35):

Yeah. That’s a good question. I mean, you make a good point. I think ultra running is unique in the sense that it’s not like you can just get into races. You know, sometimes it takes many years of trying to get through a lottery and that kind of thing. So, um, and then even if you can get into races, you’re not doing that many a year. You know, I remember back to when I was racing shorter distances and I might race 12 times a year and now I race like maybe three. So it makes it easy to put a race on a pedestal when we’re not getting that opportunity very often. Or when that race could have been two or three years in the making or like a race like UT and B, which is so, um, just like the pinnacle of ultra running, you know, we can kind of, like you said, add all this, give it this extra power that maybe it doesn’t necessarily deserve.

Addie Bracy (40:16):

Um, and, and what that does is it, it provides a scenario when there’s like so much at stake. Like it’s no wonder that our brains get anxious and nervous. Um, and, and maybe yeah, to the point where it’s anxiety, when we make something so big and make it into something that’s so huge that it can feel like daunting or overwhelming. And at the same time, you don’t want to sway too far to the other side and minimize something to the point where, and you I’ve seen athletes do that as well, where maybe they have such a fear of making a race so big that they almost like make it not big enough. You know, it’s still is a big deal, so it’s a fine line. Um, and then it’s really helpful to understand the physiological sensations that we call like nervousness and anxiousness and anxiety and that kind of thing.

Addie Bracy (40:58):

It’s, it’s, it is like our nervous system. It is an appropriate response if it’s at the appropriate time. So like, obviously if you’re feeling that nervous and anxious a week out, or even three days out from a race, like that can be an issue. My thing is I don’t, I get really nervous the day before races and I don’t, I don’t usually sleep. And, um, one of the things I realized is it’s not necessarily the physiological symptoms that we’re experiencing. It’s what we think they mean. So I used to think that meant, oh, I’m feeling nervous and anxious. Like what, whatever I was feeling in my body, the butterflies are kind of sweating to kind of like, oh man, something big happening tomorrow. I interpreted it as anxiety and nervousness, which I took to me. I didn’t train me part enough. I’m not ready. I’m not prepared.

Addie Bracy (41:41):

And something, someone said to me one time was a nervousness and excitement feel like very similar, you know, I think back to like being a kid at Christmas and I also didn’t sleep the night before, but I was, I, I interpreted as like, oh, I’m so excited tomorrow. Like Santa Claus is coming. Um, so now I try and approach it that way of like, yeah, I’m excited. Like tomorrow is going to be a big adventure. And so I feel the same, but because I give it a different meaning I still don’t sleep before races usually. I mean a couple hours maybe, but not a lot. Um, but it doesn’t impact me anymore because I don’t think of it as meaning anything negative, but there are times when it can, like I said, the further out from a race, the more of an issue that it is.

Addie Bracy (42:16):

So a lot of times when an athlete describes feeling pressure expectations, my first question is like, where’s that coming from? Because sometimes it’s coming from nowhere. Sometimes it’s coming from them. I had an athlete recently that I coach that like ran a race and then she was disappointed. And I thought it was a really great effort and like better than I expected. And she was like, well, I missed my goal of this time. And I was like, well, where did you get that time from? She’s like, I don’t know. I had just like pulled out a random time. Like there was just like no basis of this pressure. She was putting on herself for this thing. But in the same token, like I work with a lot of professional athletes who compete for a living where there is real, tangible pressure and expectations to perform.

Addie Bracy (42:56):

And if not, then, you know, it’s going to impact their livelihood. So pressure can be a real thing as well. So, um, I think it mostly just comes down to perception of what it means. Uh, and then at the end of the day, this is the most important piece actually, is it doesn’t matter if what is true and not true, it matters whether or not it’s productive for you. So if the way that you’re feeling about a race isn’t productive, then you can adjust and change how you’re interpreting information to feel the way that you want to feel. And I’m good at that. If there’s, if there’s real, tangible pressure on me, I’m, I’m kind of good at not internalizing it. I’m good at kind of like, uh, interpreting it or, um, what’s the word like manipulating it to being something that is productive for me. And that’s really kind of what it comes down to you as a human is just taking the reality around you and knowing how to interpret it and if needed kind of shift its meaning to having a productive impact on you. I don’t know if that makes sense of kind of, I guess they going away. Um, but yeah, it’s really just seeing how, how you’re personally being impacted and affected and doing what you need to do to kind of have a more productive and positive approach towards your competition.

Corrine Malcolm (44:04):

Yeah, no, I think it makes a ton of sense. I think that there’s all this internalized, oftentimes it’s like, we think it’s external, but it’s actually internal pressure and like dislike, getting, getting our heads around that. I mean, I see that at a junior level, I coached junior skiers for a long time and they’d be nervous before races and I’d be like, Hey, like what’s going on? Like, you’re like, no matter what happens today, like, are your parents still gonna love you? And they’d be like, yeah. And I’d be like, okay, as far as your big sister still gonna love you or your big brother. And they’re like, yeah. I’m like, okay. Like I was like, am I still going to love you? And they’re like, yeah. I’m like, okay then like, what are you nervous about? Like the worst case scenario is it doesn’t go as well as you were hoping.

Corrine Malcolm (44:39):

But the truth of the matter is that that doesn’t change your value as a human, as a person. And like, it’s insane that we feel that as adults in the sport, that our self-worth can get tied up in this, but you know, I’ve seen it with 11 year olds. So it’s like this lesson that we’ve internalized over time, you know, I have to get good grades. I have to, you know, be as good as I can in my sport or my activity. I’m just like this pressure that I think society from a societal aspect is probably very internalized over time. But, you know, I think it’s really important that we, we continue to have athletes, you know, approach that topic and learn that lesson. And so we’ve talked about stress and pressure, obviously, you know, I try to prep every athlete going into a long racing, Hey, like at some point in time, like it, like, we, we hope for the best we prepare for the worst. Like we hope that it goes smooth, but things are likely going to go sideways because it’s an ultra and you pan a bib on. And like, what’s going to go wrong might go wrong. And so what can athletes do in the race? You know, is that adapting? Is that just being okay with it? What can an athlete do when everything is going sideways or even just a single thing is going sideways.

Addie Bracy (45:46):

Yeah, I, this, I still look, I just experienced this kind of like a game-changing. I, I had a person, a risk director kind of call me out before I ran this last race and say like, you got to change what you’re doing. It’s not working for you. And I’m like, oh, you noticed? Because I noticed that too. It wasn’t working. And it was a similar thing where, yeah, every time I was in a race and things went wrong, I took it as feedback that like, things weren’t going well, or I took it as, it was almost like a nuisance I’m like, does this race not know that I have, like, I have a plan I’m about to crush this race. And it’s really just like inconveniencing me. Uh, and instead of, you know, he kind of talked to me like, you gotta, you, you gotta take the races.

Addie Bracy (46:26):

That’s coming to you, let it come to you. Don’t try and like force this agenda. And so I went into this last race of like, okay, I’m going to try this new approach where I just address what’s happening in the moment. And I’m, and I’m not going to stress about like, what that means for the rest of the race. And it’s easy. I had a great race and it’s easy to think that things didn’t go wrong. Everything went wrong. My headlamp died. I had an eight mile section where I had no light. I was puking. Like everything went wrong. But the point was that every time something popped up, I just kind of took it as like, okay, this is just what’s happening right now. Like, just as if I knew that this part of the course had a two mile Klein, this is just something that’s happening and I need to address it now.

Addie Bracy (47:02):

And if that means stopping the walk for a minute, I stopped to walk for a minute. And it sounds like super obvious, but I have been the person that’s just like urgent, urgently trying to like force my way through an obstacle instead of just like, okay, hold on a second. Like, what’s happening? What can I do about this? Um, how can I just address this and then move forward instead of like barging through it, which is before one of my favorite scenes that I say to myself mostly, but I see an ultra running is that it’s super easy to be stubborn and call it toughness. It’s super easy to be stubborn and like reject reality and say like, I’m just being tough. Like, no, you’re not, you’re rejecting reality. Um, so it’s really being honest with yourself and being able to call out the difference.

Addie Bracy (47:42):

Like sometimes you do need to be tough. Sometimes there’s a situation, you know, with the team later in the race. So we’re feeling like there were things that you need to tough it through, but there’s some times when you’re just being stubborn and kind of refusing to accept reality. Um, there’s a book that came out recently, the combat coercion by Matt Fitzgerald. That’s kind of like, like related. And he talks about this concept of like an ultra realist. And he shares a lot of examples of athletes who face kind of like really unfortunate things that happen in a race, uh, and then are able to kind of like overcome it. And I don’t even know if that’s the right word because it’s not necessarily like pushing through the thing. It’s just like, uh, handling it calmly and poised and then be able to still come back and have the performance.

Addie Bracy (48:23):

And, and the difference is people that are like rejecting reality and those that are accepting it. So one thing I suggest to athletes, or maybe one way to address this is like, it’s also easy to think that preparation means more control. And I think I thought that as an athlete too, like if I’m super prepared and fit, this race is going to go smoothly. And so that was the image I had in my head, you know, for 10 or 12 weeks of training of like, oh man, it’s gonna be so fun. I can’t wait. And then you get out there. And it’s like, all of a sudden the reality in front of you, like does not match the image that you had in your head. So it re like reverse engineer that and think about all the different things that could pop up, not will pop up, um, and have that kind of be part of the visualization or imagery process.

Addie Bracy (49:05):

Uh, and then kind of going back to what we talked about with the reaction responding is if you can kind of think about those things and write out the desired response that you hope you have in those moments, then you’ve also kind of practice and rehearse that a little bit. So when something does pop up, it’s like, okay, well, I thought about this. Like I knew this could happen. This is okay. It doesn’t mean the race is going bad. It just is part of racing hundreds. And that that’s like, God, that took me four years to learn that it’s just part of racing hundreds. So I think the more athletes can just treat, uh, any obstacle that would pop up just like, like a part of the trail unfolding in front of them, the easier it is to just kind of like embrace it as part of the experience and not something that is like negative feedback.

Corrine Malcolm (49:47):

Yeah. I, I love that. I always thought that in skiing and I think you experienced that probably running the 5k and the 10 K on the track. It’s like, at some point it’s going to get hard and you just have to like deal with it when it comes your way. And a hundred is just that on steroids, it’s going to get hard at some point and you just have to not fight it. And I wonder I’ve, you know, I, I love, I love psychology. It’s, you know, not, not something that I majored in, but I think it’s something that there’s a lot of value in. And listening to you just then it kind of reminded me, I feel like sports psych is shifting more and more towards this idea of like, away from dissociation away from like distraction techniques for athletes and more towards just like, uh, not, not self-awareness necessarily, but like acceptance, like the acceptance model of like addressing head on what’s going on and then kind of moving forward. Is that something that you’ve seen in practice and in and throughout your studies, is that kind of, is the, is that a way we should be steering athletes was like more or less what I’m trying to, trying to get at there?

Addie Bracy (50:47):

I think so. I mean, yeah, I guess I think when I work with athletes on a day-to-day basis, I’m like, yeah, I wish I could tell you how to just never experience this comfort. I wish I could tell you how to never have self doubt or lack of competence. Like that’s not going to happen though. That’s not, there’s no magic formula for that. Like, those things are going to pop up. So the more that, yeah, you can just learn to accept that as part of the experience. Uh, and really honestly, it’s as simple as understanding, like we have thoughts and then we have like feelings and emotions about those thoughts, and then we have our behavior, but there’s like, even if you just thought about it, as simple as like, okay, I thought in a behavior, there’s this space between where you get to decide which thoughts you let died, your behaviors, or which thoughts you act on.

Addie Bracy (51:29):

And to me, yeah, this idea of acceptance, um, you don’t have to not have them because I think that was the piece that was hard for me was I felt like if I was in a race and I had one second of doubt, the race was over. I was like, oh man, it’s over like, gosh, I wish I hadn’t had that thought, but that’s not true. You can have that fight and still execute the race that you want. You can have low confidence and still bring yourself out of it and execute the race that you want. So the acceptance piece, I think, is just a lot more empowering and makes you realize you don’t have to shove it all away, but you can learn how to deal with it. And when it comes to like, there’s a lot of like really positive research on this acceptance piece and like the act model with pain management of like, you don’t have to not want it to be there. You don’t have to want it to be there either, but you can coexist with it. You can coexist with pain. You can co-exist with discomfort, you can coexist with negative thoughts. And it’s really empowering to recognize that you can kind of decide which things you want to guide your actions in. Decision-making um, it doesn’t mean you don’t have them. So I think it’s, I think it makes me feel better to think. I have to like get to a point where I never have any negative thoughts it’s like not ever gonna happen.

Corrine Malcolm (52:35):

Yeah. I, so Leadville is my first hundred as well. And my then colleague now coach Adam Saint Peter, who paced me during it. Oh, it’s okay. My dog’s in the background. She’ll probably do something too. Um, he said after the race, he was like, Malcolm, how many times did you think about quitting ultra running during, during Leadville? And I was like, oh, like four or five times. And he’s like, okay. That’s that sounds like that’s about right. Like, that seems good. So like, just like a hearing that right away. And my first hundred being like, oh, that’s a normal response. Like this is not a negative thing. This is a positive thing. So I’m like, I think that that area of research that you’re talking about for pain management for coexisting with this is such a perfect model for ultra running, right? Like I think that that is such a, it’s so positive.

Corrine Malcolm (53:21):

It’s not negative. Like I think that, that, that idea to me is something that I hope we, you know, I hope there’s so much research yet to be done in the ultra running field. In particular, we oftentimes pull research from, from road marathons, from Ironman athletes from road cyclists. So I hope that this, some of this work continues to be done specifically in our population, just because I do think that we’re a very interesting group of athletes and that we could talk about all of this for forever and ever and ever. Um, which means I’ll just have to have you back on the podcast at some point in time so that we can pepper you with questions from the audience too. Cause I think that people will have questions, right? Like what can they do? What can they put in their toolbox? So we’ll get you back on. But to, to round out our conversation today, I just wanted to ask you a couple, um, a couple of questions, kind of like easy things to sign off with. And, and one of them was, and you’ve kind of talked about this a little bit, but what is something that you wish you knew, like if you were addressing like a new ultra runner right now, like what, what’s something that you wish you knew getting into the sport that you didn’t, that you didn’t know that

Addie Bracy (54:27):

Great question. Um, I mean, if we’re done kind of stick in the sports psychology trends, like kind of what you just said. I wish that this would have been normalized when I first got into ultra running, but honestly, even when I was like a collegiate athlete, I went through a lot of my career thinking that my mind and my emotional state and mental state were separate from my body and my performance and spent many years being told, like leave whatever’s going on at the track, like leave it at the gate when you come in, like that doesn’t have a place here. Um, and obviously I’m very much believed differently. So I did a career shift, you know, later in life. But, um, probably just this piece, like recognizing how important the psychological pieces, I was a great example of someone that put a lot of time and effort into the physical side, like on paper was a very good runner and maybe should have in my head been performing better than I was when I first started ultra.

Addie Bracy (55:17):

Then I wasn’t and this was the piece that I was missing. So my favorite thing to tell people about psychology is like all of us have a different physiological makeup. A lot of our athletic potential is genetic and not all of it, but a lot of it, or based on like how early we were exposed to the sport, like what kind of training we’ve had, but the psychological piece is available to everybody. It’s it’s right there at your fingertips. It’s got the biggest impact. It can have an impact as little as a day. So I wish, I wish that I had put more emphasis in the psychological and mental piece, uh, on my career. My college and post-collegiate career would have been a lot different if I had

Corrine Malcolm (55:52):

Or happy to have you in our sport now, or, or happy that you, you made the move, not to say it to the dark side, but you found a good home w with all of us and we are going to be, oh, just like eternally grateful for the work that you’re going to continue to do in our sport. And so kind of piggybacking on off that last question, I’m wondering if there’s a book that you’ve read recently that has had a good impact on you. I know you’re reading a bunch of stuff right now. Um, but also any other resources that you can recommend to our listeners and we’ll link stuff in our show notes, um, for, for the listeners too.

Addie Bracy (56:25):

Yeah. There’s some, there’s some great books. Um, one that I’ve always kind of leaned on that I think does a pretty good job. It’s called the brave athlete. It does. Um, it’s written, I think by a psychologist, but more on like the traffic world does a really good job of breaking down sports. Like, um, let me think one that I read recently, it’s not sports psychology necessarily related, but the books called emotional agility, um, which had a pretty big impact just on me personally, like kind of how I was living my life personally. So that’s probably been the most personally impactful book. Um, but there’s so many great things. And if anything, like, I think the most valuable part of my book is, uh, my reference lists. There’s I read probably 50 books in the process and there’s just so much good work out there that relates it’s, that’s the thing, sports psychology. Doesn’t, it’s not isolated to sport it’s general life and wellbeing. So the work of people like Bernie brown, I think she’s brilliant. Um, Carol Dweck, there’s just a lot of really great resources. So if anybody buy my book for their reference list, or maybe I should just like put it online somewhere of like, this is the work I’m just regurgitating it. There’s so many brilliant minds.

Corrine Malcolm (57:28):

Yeah. And I know as we mentioned, I think that your book’s brilliant in the sense that it really does give athletes, their worksheets involved. You know, like there, there are very practical tools that athletes are going to be able to utilize today, tomorrow, uh, over the winter in next race season that are going to be incredibly valuable to them. I will be recommending them to my athletes because I think it’s such a valuable tool for them to have. Um, and then I guess kind of before we let you go, where can our listeners find you? Where can they buy your book, all that kind of stuff.

Addie Bracy (57:56):

Yeah. The books for sale on Amazon mental training for ultra running, um, in my like consultant world as a sports psychology consultant, um, my practice is called strive mental performance. That’s just striving for performance.com and then socially I’m really only on Instagram, just at Addie Bracey,

Corrine Malcolm (58:14):

We’ll make sure it’s all linked in our show notes. And we want to thank you again, Addy for joining us today and sharing just a glimmer of your wisdom in the realm of sports psych. And we can’t wait to have you back on our show maybe early, early in 2022 before the race season kicks off.

Addie Bracy (58:30):

Awesome. Thanks for having me. It was great chatting.


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