21 miles of mental training

OOoooff.  That is the best word to describe my long run this weekend. Well, I suppose it’s more of a sound than a word, but you get the point, right? It was a toughie. AKA: An opportunity for mental training…hooray.

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Pre-run selfie. I think I suspected what was coming?

The morning was chilly, in the 40s when I set out at 6:45ish. It was my first run of the season in long sleeves, and I didn’t regret them for a second. I did regret forgetting my sunglasses, which I think was due to the fact that the sun wasn’t really out yet when I left the house. It could also be attributed to my “mad dash” out the door.* I crawled out of bed at 6:07, which is apparently before the sun rises these days, and I was out the door in less than 40 minutes…practically a record for me. I barely had time to even check facebook, and I certainly didn’t have time to read any running blogs for a little motivation.

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I opted for a full sock today and not just the sleeves. Warmer ankles, but I missed my smart wool socks.

So, anyways, I went outside and started running. Then I just kept that up for a long time. 😉

I could tell pretty early on that I wasn’t feeling quite as spunky as last week. Something felt harder. The beginning miles passed as quickly as normal, and my pace was in the same range as last week, so it seemed that it was just my brain that wasn’t feelin’ it. Unfortunately, by the time I hit 9 miles I suspected that my legs weren’t really feelin’ it either. I usually have an inexplicable burst of awesome from about mile 9 to 14. Everything is sunshine and rainbows, and I pick up speed and have a grand ol’ time. But not this week. This week, I was counting down the miles I had left. I was feeling okay, but not great, and that was disconcerting.

The one exception to the mediocrity was unexpectedly running into Jeff, who was on his own long run, at mile 10. We don’t usually see each other out running, and it was a nice surprise.  

When I hit 15 miles, I felt okay about having 6 miles to go, but somewhere in that mile things started going downhill. Actually, that’s not too far off from what actually happened in mile 16: rolling hills. Things were quickly going from “okay” to “not bad exactly, but definitely not good”.

At the 3 hour mark, I was scheduled for my 4th gu and, more excitingly, a walk break! I decided that I’d rather have a Gatorade again than choke down the gu, but I couldn’t make myself wait for the store to take a walk break. And this is where my pace went out the window. Until this point, I was still averaging a pace around 11 min/mile. The walk break didn’t kill it, but together with the stop for Gatorade (which involved waiting in line for someone to get a breakfast sandwich), I lost something like 5 minutes. And I couldn’t make that time up. My legs were toast; I couldn’t even stop myself from losing more time. But I kept chugging along.

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At least I could enjoy the view. Well sort of, after a certain point, I have to keep an eye on the ground so I don’t trip over things.

And this is where the mental training comes in. Just after hitting mile 18, I ran by a shortcut home, and towards the bridge. I could have gone home, but I didn’t. I could have stayed in a flatter area until I hit 21 miles, but I didn’t. Instead, at 18.65 miles I ran over the stupid bridge. Then, at just over 20 miles, I ran BACK over the STUPID BRIDGE. And finally, when I was over the (stupid) bridge, I ran up yet…another….hill…before the final, blissful quarter mile of gradual decline that takes me to my front door (love).

These last hilly miles were hard. I kept telling myself “well, this is not awful”. Ha. I don’t like to think of a run as “bad”, I prefer a “it could be worse” attitude. I kept reminding myself about what good mental training this was, and thinking that “hey, at least I didn’t trip and fall”. It’s important for me to stay positive in the last hilly miles of training because my marathon has a hilly second half. If I’m going to get to the finish line, I’m going to have to not give up on the hills.

I ended up finishing 20 minutes slower than last week, which was only 1 mile shorter. Bummer. But I wouldn’t call it a bad run. Just a hard run. A necessary run. And now, let’s hope for smooth sailing for the remainder of training.

Is it cold where you live? Are you like me, or do you curse every step on a “bad” run? If I feel like this during the marathon, how on earth am I going to run 5.2 more miles?

*Why must I leave so early if I don’t need to beat the heat? Well, Jeff and I have a standing Saturday lunch date. And we like to leave the house at 11AM. Yeah, we could go later or on Sunday, but we don’t want to. So, I leave the house as early as possible considering my personal “do not get up before 6AM on a weekend” rule. I may complain about having to rush, but it’s totally my choice to do so. (Also, FYI, we left after 11 today because I was slow.)

 

 

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10 thoughts on “21 miles of mental training

  1. I love the coldest and the hottest runs best… I don’t know why, but it adds to the feeling that I’m really doing something. Thanks for the story, be well~

    • I think you’re the first person I’ve ever heard say they prefer the coldest and hottest runs! Haha…it’s true though, it makes you feel extra awesome and hard core.

    • I don’t know why I don’t get grumpy during a bad run, in normal life I can get cranky when I’m tired and uncomfortable. In terms of my mental game, it totally turned around when I fell apart in Marathon #1. After that failure, I’ve been much better at getting my head around things.

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