In the final moments before the starting gun I really try to center and ground myself. I literally ground myself. If you've ever watched me race, I do this thing I've done since high school where I lay on the ground.
It only takes a couple seconds and I'm usually doing it while athletes are doing their final stride out. I let myself kind of sink into the track. I feel extremely heavy, like there's something pushing on my chest; pushing me down. It makes me have this sensation of spinning - a little bit like a sinking drain feeling. It's really like screwing yourself into the ground.
There's a lot of things I've learned since then, how that ties into ideas of chakras or meditative theories, but at the time it just happened naturally. I called it soaking in the field and so I would sit there and ground myself. It quiets all the noise. It creates an equal experience to start every single race. Whether I'm in South Korea, Australia, New York City, California, Oregon, it doesn't matter. There's always a ground and I can always lay on it and I can always feel that same sensation. Once I've done that it makes me feel really peaceful. It's like hitting a reset button and I'm like “okay, here we go” and then I also tell myself all I can do is be the best I can on the day with the tools that I have.
If I'm a B+ today, be the B+. Don't be a C- because you're mad you're B+ and not an A+ today. That is how you can always have satisfaction in a race. It's just by continuing to live up to whatever you are that day. Not an old version of you, not an idealized version of you, and if you want to be a competitive athlete that's the mindset you have to develop because you're not going to get your A+ day every time you want it. In fact, you'll probably only get your A+ day twice in a career, so might as well throw that idea out the window!
Lauren talks about her pre-race ritual in our video interview with her.