A striking example of "how to come from behind" is Heather Dorniden's 600m Race win. For those of us watching the video, we may assume that after the fall, Heather is clearly out of contention. But without hesitation, Heather gets up and goes on to win. Heather shows us that anything is possible in sports.
To learn how to master the art of "coming from behind," you need to first determine how you naturally respond to being passed (or falling) during competition. When someone passes you during an event, do you automatically kick it up a notch like Heather? Maybe you feel a sense of panic and desperation. Or perhaps you feel defeated and slow down even more. What sort of self-talk is going on for you? Is your self-talk positive or negative?
Once you know your typical response to being passed, you can begin to modify it in ways that help you perform your best.
Channeling Adrenaline ProperlyFor many athletes, being passed, or left in the dust, causes a rush of adrenaline, which can help or hinder your performance, depending upon how you use it. The downside of the adrenaline rush is panic. This unfocused frenzy of thoughts may make you feel out of control, desperate, and defeated. Clearly, this is not the best use of adrenaline. Transferring the adrenaline rush into your body and muscles is a much more effective way to use this sensation, and it often results in an automatic, effortless increase in speed and power.
For athletes who haven't mastered the technique, it takes practice and focused mental effort to learn this new behavior until it becomes automatic. The basic technique has two components:
- Feeling and recognizing the natural rush of adrenaline.
- Imagining the adrenaline energy flowing into your muscles, feeling powerful and strong.
The secret to visualization during an event is to imagine yourself speeding up and coming from behind before you actually respond. First, you create a picture in your mind -- a belief -- that you are speeding up. You imagine the sensations of experiencing a burst of energy, including power, speed, and strength, and this mental image sets the stage for your body to physically respond.
Clearly, this skill takes practice, but once mastered, you'll feel confident whether you get passed early or late in an event and will be able to focus your energy in a positive way. You may even find that you enjoy being passed during competition because it causes the necessary adrenaline rush to automatically increases your energy output.
Stay Calm and Assess the SituationIn short events you need to react quickly, but what if you have a long race still ahead? In these situations, even though your feel an adrenaline rush after being passed, it helps to stay calm and assess the situation. If you panic, sprint ahead, or expend tons of emotional and physical energy, you may sabotage your performance. Practice staying calm, and take a quick inventory of your situation. How do you feel? How much longer is the event? Who just passed you, and are they a legitimate threat?
If you are learning this skill, it's helpful to do drills with teammates during practice and set up a variety of situations where you need to quickly assess and respond to a situation. Give a teammate a 15-second head start. Have them pass you unexpectedly, train on a route where you can't see them in front of you, or allow them to pull away and try to catch them. As you become more skilled at staying calm in all these scenarios, the process of taking inventory will happen very quickly. Elite and experienced athletes, like Heather, often do this automatically and respond immediately.
With this new skill, you may find that coming from behind is a race scenario you no longer dread, and perhaps one you prefer.