Typically, tunnel vision refers to having a narrow point of view - you're so focused on what's in front of you that you miss or ignore those things around you.
However, there are times as athletes when adopting a kind of tunnel vision can be extremely useful. I experienced one such point this past weekend, when racing the Pacific Road Runner's "First Half" Half Marathon.
I'll be blunt - this isn't going to be a race report. I signed up for the event 5 days before, wasn't really training for it, and couldn't have cared less as to how it went. I just like the course, lots of people I knew were racing, and I helped someone out by buying their entry.
So the race started, and suprise suprise, I went out too hard. Not that just things started to hurt (aren't they supposed to in a race) but I can honestly say that this was the first event to ever stop me dead in my tracks. Even in my marathons and Ironman runs where I've felt like s**t, I've at least walked.
But on Sunday, shortly after Mile 4, my side cramped and I stopped. Put my head between my legs. And seriously contemplated walking back to the start (there were, after all, 9 miles to go). But then I walked, and jogged, and slowly ran (and then had a nice if brief chat with a good friend - thanks J)
This all probably only took a minute, but it still felt fairly daunting. All the work I'd done in the first 20 minutes of the race was gone, those athletes now far ahead of me. What to do now? I seriously needed to talk with someone.
That's when Coach Doug took over
"You can keep running, but only if your side's not hurting"
"You can run, but I want you to only run fast through smoothness and good form. Don't push hard"
Hey, I'm passing people.
"Okay, see that runner up ahead, the one that just passed you? Focus on his back, and smoothly bridge the gap"
It took 3 kilometers to catch him, but it felt great.
"How's the side feeling? Test it a couple of times - are you ready to get back to work?"
Ready to go
"Okay, there's just 6 kilometers left in the run, start picking off runners ahead of you."
And the rest is in the books