Tuesday 13 January 2015

Race Day Mantra!

Race Day Mantra!
When it comes to race day, I don’t keep my plans a secret.  I announce them to the whole world, way in advance.  I’ve been this way since I was a kid in school.  I used to always loudly proclaim that I knew nothing of the subject, that I had not studied and that I was probably going to flunk.  And then, true to my word, I would.  I hate to lie.

I haven’t changed.  Unfortunately with Running, I proclaim, that I want to do well, that I have trained hard, that I want to run a personal best but somehow on race day things haven’t panned out as planned.

I hope that this changes. So I announced to my friends, via my blog “Trust: The Supreme Daring” 

In the concluding paragraph of the blog, I wrote my Plan for SCMM 2015:

“I just want One Mind.
I just want One Plan.
I just want One Goal.
I just want to run a 4:00 hour Marathon! 
Trust is the Supreme Daring! ”

This, however, is easier said than done. 
Every marathoner knows that “when the shit hits the fan” our immediate thought is “What in the world am I doing here on a Sunday morning when I could be in bed instead?”

The thing with running a marathon is that the best laid plans fall apart when the pain sets in.  And I am very worried about how I will remain focused and concentrate on race day.  How will I stick to my One-Mind, One-Plan and One-Goal strategy?

I am searching for inspiration! 

The first thing to do is to accept that the pain will come and then make a plan on how I will deal with it.   
Daniel Brown wrote that, “It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you” 

A wise man has said that, “Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

I, as most people will attest, am not wise!

Normally, once my mind starts screaming at me to stop the insanity, I start to stop concentrating on the run and slow down. 

With SCMM 2015 just a few days away, I am filled with dread. I know that once again, my mind, my body and my character will be tested.

So I need a mantra to focus on.  I need to stay with One-Mind, One-Goal and One-plan. 
I need Inspiration!

I recently read a fantastic book, “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown.  It is a book about the sport of rowing, but it is also a book about Life.  It is one of the best books that I have ever read.

The book tells of an epic-true life journey about ordinary boys becoming extraordinary men. 

It is a story about nine young men from the State of Washington. It is about boys – farm boys, fishermen, and loggers – from extremely poor families during the great depression who shocked both the rowing world and Adolf Hitler by winning the gold medal in the eight-oared rowing at the 1936 Olympics. 

 “Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports.  Once the race starts, there are no time-outs.  It calls upon the limits of human endurance.”
“When you row, the major muscles in your arms, legs and back – particularly the quadriceps, triceps, biceps, deltoids, latissimus dorsi, abdomicals, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles – do most of the grunt work, propelling the boat forward against the unrelenting resistance of water and wind.  At the same time, scores of smaller muscles in the neck, wrists, hands, and even the feet continually fine-tune your efforts, holding the body in constant equipoise in order to maintain the exquisite balance necessary to keep a 24 inch wide vessel on an even keel.”*

“The result is that the body burns calories and consumes oxygen at a rate that is unmatched in almost any human endeavor.  Physiologists have calculated that rowing a 2000 meter race – the Olympic standard – takes the same physiological toll as playing two basketball games back-to-back. And it exacts that toll in about 6 mintues. 
Pound for Pound, Olympic oarsmen may take in and process as much oxygen as a thoroughbred racehorse.

“The common denominator is overwhelming pain.  And what every oarsman comes to learn is that pain is a part and parcel of his sport.”
 “There is no place to stop and take a drink of water or a lungful of cool air.  You just keep your eyes glued on the red, perspiring neck of the fellow ahead of you and row until they tell you it’s all over....”


George Morry, was the coxswain, of the US team.  (a coxswain, is the member of the rowing team who sits in the stern facing the bow and his team mates and steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers.  He sets the strategy during the race by shouting out instructions and makes sure that the team rows in a synchronized fashion).  

George Morry came up with a mantra to help the oarsmen concentrate and focus on the job at hand.  

As they rowed, George Morry would shout: “M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B” over and over to the rhythm of their stroke. The initials stood for “MIND IN BOAT”. 

“It was meant as a reminder that from the time an oarsman steps into a racing shell until the moment that the boat crosses the finish line, he must keep his mind focused on what is happening inside the boat.”* “MIND IN THE BOAT, MIND IN THE BOAT, MIND IN THE BOAT”

"It was meant to remind him that his whole world must shrink down to the small space within the gunwales.”* “M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B”

“It was meant to remind him that he must maintain a singular focus on the rower just ahead of him and that he must focus on the voice of the coxswain calling out the commands."* “MIND IN THE BOAT, MIND IN THE BOAT, MIND IN THE BOAT”

Nothing must distract him – not the other competing boats, nor the pain in his muscles, nor the lack of oxygen in their lungs - nothing can enter the successful oarsmen’s mind for he has just one focus! "M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B”

And so, for SCMM 2015, I have a plan. Whenever I find my Mind meandering away from the race, I plan to chant my Mantra....MIND IN THE BOAT, MIND IN THE BOAT, MIND IN THE BOAT..

Whenever I feel my pace falling.."M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B”
Whenever I feel myself tiring..."M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B”
Whenever I feel uncertainty..."M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B”
Whenever I feel pain.."M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B”

For so many of us SCMM Runners, “THE BOAT” has come to mean so much more than we can express!  

My BOAT is not just my body. It is so much more. My BOAT is my love for running, it is my idea of pride and joy and respect for myself.  It is my test of my physical endurance. It is a test of my mental and emotional toughness.

It is my idea of growing from boyhood to manhood.*

By keeping my “MIND IN THE BOAT” on this one special marathon day, I hope that I might be able to push through my aches and pains and then for a moment I might enjoy a mystical moment of pride and elation and I even might, perhaps for a brief fleeting moment, find myself closer to God!...CLOSER TO GOD !!
Really???? God?????

I think I’m going a bit overboard here..Closer to God, might just be a bit too much!
I think that I will simply settle for a time that I can learn to run past pain, past discomfort, past exhaustion, and past the negative voices in my head.  

I will simply settle for a PERSONAL BEST..A 4:00 Marathon !!!

M-I-B..M-I-B..M-I-B !!  


Boys In the Boat : Daniel James Brown

The main protagonist of the story “Boys in the Boat” is Joe Rantz.  He life became a metaphor for those hard days of the great depression.  His mother had died when he was a child.  His step-mother disliked him. 

In 1929, when little Joe came home one day from school, he found that his whole family (Father, step-mother and her kids) were sitting in a car.  The car was packed with all their belongings.  His father told him that he was taking his new family and leaving and Joe was not to come along.  And then this little boy had to stay alone in the house, and find his food in the forest.   He subsists by foraging in the forest for mushrooms and berries and fishing for salmon in the river.  

Yet he manages to get through school, gets himself to college and into the rowing team.  At first he finds it hard to trust the other members of his crew on the boat.  And yet in the end, he becomes a crucial member of the crew. 

After writing my blog about the “Boys in the Boat” I got an email from Judy, Joe Rantz’s daughter.  Somehow, due to the miracle of the internet, she had read my blog.  To get a letter from her was one of the proudest moments of my life. 

I take the liberty of reproducing her letter.  I hope that all the runner for SCMM will find inspiration in her words!

My name is Judy Rantz Willman.  My father was Joe Rantz.  I just wanted to let you know how much it means to me that you have been inspired by "The Boys in the Boat".  

I know that all the Boys would have loved the fact that the story of their struggles is being a source of inspiration for people all over the world.  

I believe that it is desperately important that we all begin to look at our problems with a "how can I solve it" attitude instead of an "it's someone else's fault" attitude.  Bravo to you!

I would love to know how well you are able to hang on to MIB in your next run, and if you feel it has helped you.



  1. Hi Amit,
    Thanks, A Huge thanks once again!
    I hope you continue to pen such wonderfully inspirational stuff ....
    May the Power be with you!!!

    Best Regards

  2. What a perfectly-timed piece of inspiration Amit. I am sitting with doubts in my mind as I have been unable to train diligently this season. I know it's going to be a long and painful journey this time. Yet, I want to run the race. For the sense of achievement. For staying in the game instead of giving up. Your mantra will serve to pick-me-up hopefully when I feel run-and-out. Thank you.

  3. Just the right message at the right time! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Nice article. Will keep M-I-B on race day

  5. every word added to motivation level. Appropriate to the moment when me feeling low of confidence....

  6. It's really inspiring stuff. I too will follow M-I-B.
    Thanks for sharing this wisdom.

  7. Another great one. You continue to touch me deeply.
    This one resonated even more because I was a coxswain in my Navy days for the Best Whaler and Officers rowing teams.
    Inspirational writing. Wishing more power to your pen.

  8. Amit just the right mantra from you & now that you have the blessings of Judy...

  9. Very Inspirational - great story ! Have to get hold of the book ASAP - Thanks Amit

  10. Too much Amit.. Simply Awesome .. Every-time I start reading one of your new blogs; I just want them to continue going "on and on" .. Your clarity of thought and ease of presentation is superlative ... After a long wait, read your book a few months back .. Have to say that while you are undoubtedly a solid runner; you are an even better storyteller!!

    As for the run, unless weather gods decide to play it hard, am sure you should get your sub 4:00 finish .. Would eagerly await your post run blog!!

  11. As always a great article. Keep inspiring!

  12. Amit , really an inspiring article. I am sure you will cross the finish line sub 4.00 in SCMM 2015. C U on the D Day. M.I.B.

  13. HI AMIT..Gr8 article. we in gruop of 50 travelling to mumbai. One of us is reading it loudly for all. Good luck for ur sub 4. c u on the race.