Mental Focus and Toughness

I knew today's 19 miler was going to be a bear.  Brian agreed to meet me at Anytime Fitness to work together on it.  SOOO thankful for the help!  He was nice enough to forgo his 6am start for my 12:30-1:00 start (post church and post small meal).  Yeah!

Workout was a marathon simulation of sorts - start out in 6:20s like I would for a marathon (spend 3 miles there) and then move into marathon pace for 7 miles (goal 6:05s) and then practice ACTUALLY picking up the pace for the last 3 miles (goal 5:55s).  I knew this would be brutal, especially considering I haven't hit sub 6's for tempo work consistently - meaning my marathon pace is NOT 6:05 yet.  This type of workout is SOOO what I need.  I am very good at holding a pace (ahem: VERY), but suck royally at moving it down that last 5k.  That's what I'll need to be able to do if I want to be able to compete at the level I want to compete.  So - workouts like this written to be able to practice!!

I wish I could tell you that it went great.  I finished it, so I guess that's a positive, but there were a LOT of negative thoughts and pauses during the workout.  Luckily Brian was there to get me to start up again... but still.  Paces were way off as well.  Legs are recovering from late last week's struggle/fatigue, and my MP heart rate was reading around 9.0mph (vs. somewhere in the high 9's like I'd like it to be).  I went by effort after one attempt to try to go faster & having to stop because my HR started to soar (on the 3 mile "easy" portion!) (plus, I stopped just because I was mentally weak, I won't hide it!).  9 mph was just where I was at, guess you can't force things when the body isn't allowing!

I know I have to be positive about workouts like this - after all, even with the 5 stops during the hard stuff, I had my heart rate where it should have been for a very long time.  So the effort was there.  And it's very good that I'm recognizing the need to spend 15-30 mins a day on my mental game every day NOW vs. later in the training cycle.  I'll pull out one of Dr. Asp's CD's from before the Trials (one made specifically to help with long workouts like this, mental game surrounding workouts, positive thoughts & pain management).

I also just need to put on my big girl panties and ask myself if I really do want this.  I have such an amazing opportunity, and need to take advantage of it by making the most of every training session and especially these hard ones (since I only have 2 hard opportunities a week!).

Yeppers.  Someone did.  Maybe I should anoint one of my pairs as my "big girl panties".  Wear them when I have the need to kick some ass.
I have to realize that I CAN do this!
Before the start of the last 3 mile segment - which I wasn't supposed to be stopped anyway - I told Nate I was going to take this segment a mile at a time.  He offered the fact that that probably wasn't the purpose of the workout (since as stated before, purpose was to start moving pace downward at this mark - practice a fast marathon finish).
Fast forward to me finishing the 3 miles (not sure average pace - maybe low 6's?  So definitely faster than the 10 miles that preceded it (full disclosure: I was afraid to really hurt until 1 mile to go, so really didn't start playing with the speed until then)).  After obligatory treadmill lean and gasping for air, Nate said, "See, you CAN do this!".  SOOO true.  I just have to believe it before I start, and not worry about what the future will entail.  Take it a tenth of a mile at a time.  Cover up that dam* treadmill clock so I'm focused on effort and not how slowly distance is moving and how much I have left.

  
Nate and Craig.  Craig biked over specifically to cheer Brian/me on for the last segment of the workout.  How awesome!  That was so key - I would have stopped if not for them, that last 3 mile segment was completely a mental challenge.  Nate was nicely decked out in green (he is not Irish, though - but did it to make up for my lack of green. Didn't have a green tank, and refused to run in anything more inside :))
Brian, who has become SUPER FIT and FAST since running with us last fall.  Definitely stronger than me!  It'll be fun to have team TNT together again this Spring.  I think Brian will give us all a run for our money!
 Yeah, pictures suck.  I didn't even try.  I'll try harder next time.  Maybe.

But I WILL be more mentally strong/positive, etc next time!!!

Question of the day:  Thoughts? Similar mental blocks?  Things that have helped you to get out of it, overcome?

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

2 comments:

  1. One helpful pointer, live in the moment. Think about what you are doing at that specific point, be in the zone. There is no reason to worry about what is to come for it will be there soon enough.

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  2. I think everyone who is training to get faster has those mental blocks! I know I do. I do a couple of things to break out of negative thoughts. 1st- bribe myself, haha... "Heather, if you hit that pace you can buy that ____ you've been wanting." or "have that extra slice of pizza" (this one can be dangerous for me though, haha) 2nd- I always tell my sister my workout the night before and don't want to have to report that I couldn't do it. As shallow as it sounds, I like posting what I have accomplished and having people congratulate me. It pushes me harder because I feel like I'm doing it for myself AND those who support me. 3rd- I read blogs of people who are super fast (like yours) and think about how if I hit my paces I am one step closer to becoming an OTQ! I know all of those "tips" are pretty common, but they have worked for me :) Keep up the determination and hard work!

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