Chicago: MENTAL PREP

Just four weeks to go, which means I need to really start getting ready for the marathon. This is the first in a 3 part series (how fancy!) about my preparations at this point. Today is about my mental prep.

Working with Dr. Asp (sports psychologist) and Dr. Jim (Chiropractor, also the most worldly thinker and greatest listener I know) has helped me TREMENDOUSLY to step up to the plate at big races. I've done a lot of work with both leading up to Grandma's in '11 and the '12 Trials (where I PR'd on just 3-4 weeks of good running after an awful Achilles injury - this still amazes me), both of which are my two greatest races to date. I also worked with them for NYC '12, which I think could have been a stand out race for me, but we'll never know :)

Dr. Asp's email: daasp@charter.net

Dr. Patterson's phone: 651-388-7511. Website here. He has kept me healthy for  nearly 3 years, which is unheard of. A miracle worker, no doubt :)

Anyway, for those that have followed for a while know that I was so doubtful of Dr. Asp's ability to help. I visualize, and have since I was a 7th grader. I know my strengths and weaknesses. Plus, I'm not a basket case (well.... ) - do I really need a sports psychologist?!? But since a lot was on the line, and I know I need to do all of the little things better than most (I am not a Kara Goucher or Shalane!), I figured it couldn't hurt. Especially when there's something as cut and dry as a standard on the line, it's easy to get caught up in expectations, doubts, and simply visualizing crossing the line in a sub-OTQ time. Think: It's either 2:42:59 and it's your most amazing race ever, or it's 2:43:01, which is still a big PR, but a huge disappointment standard-wise). 2 seconds. Dang. Pressure.

Dr. Asp working with the Red Wing HS team


Do you often spend time picturing a finish time when you're visualizing? Or spend your visualizing hours picturing yourself moving through the race, what you'll do when X or Y happens?

I've learned now that I should focus on NONE of that - finish time, standards, expectations, the race itself. It just doesn't help when you get to the tough miles at the end of a marathon. 

Yeah, that's right - I don't spend much time at all picturing the clock as I'm finishing, or crossing the 20M mark and doing the math to find out I'm right on/a little behind/a little ahead. It's not about the outcome. It's about full effort, pain management, and an almost hypnotic-type of positive coping to change any negative or unexpected situation into something positive that fuels you. It's about the process.

Honestly, with both of Dr. Asp and Dr. Jim's help, I have been able to put the pain of a marathon completely in the background. Don't believe me? Please comment below (I LOVE comments!) to ask questions or be connected to either professional. Promise, you'll be convinced.

I have my first Chicago session with Dr. Asp tomorrow so will be formally preparing tonight. What does this mean?

I'll review my mental state through this training block for Chicago - what are things that have gone well? Things that haven't? Positive throughts?

I'll explore barriers or possible disruptions that have happened (um, ER visit and stomach flu? And the following 3 weeks of training that were sub-par), and what might happen between now and the race - and how to cope with that.

I'll listen to previous CDs (from Dr. Asp) to pick out things that worked particularly well. The NYC one we made last year was SO powerful, so I think I'll start there. This might mean an evening of a lot of Dr. Asp's voice... :)

I'll think through images (also search online), memories, and think through my perceptions of Chicago Marathon. What visual cues can I use between now and the race, and what can I use during the race? Visuals are really powerful for me.

Secure or add to the list of positive reassuring coping thoughts. Here's the post about Mantras from a while back.

So -- with all of that -- I'd love to get your thoughts to help add to what I find. Is there anything really powerful you've used in the past? Visuals? Mantras? Other mental strategies?




AHHHH, this is really coming up! Excited and oh-so-nervous!!!!!!

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!

6 comments:

  1. Just remember how lucky you are to be able to run :) Take it for what it is worth - not everyone is gifted to run...and if they are, fast is usually not something that comes in the same sentence!!! Something that stuck out to me about Chicago is the lack of shade...it can get warm. Just hydrate the weeks leading up to the race. You are going to rock it. You like to smile - when it gets tough, remember that it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown :)

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  2. and some of my favorite quotes:

    The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you

    "Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."
    Muhammad Ali

    If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat.
    -Herschel Walker

    Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.
    T. Alan Armstrong

    I run because I can.
    When I get tired, I remember those who can't run.
    What they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted,
    and I run harder for them.
    I know they would do the same for me.

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    1. Wow -- THANKS!!!!!! :) You're right - I should take more time to be thankful that I can run. I often forget and spend too much time wishing for a few seconds faster. Love the quotes!!!

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  3. I know you've written about being able to put your mind over the matter before, and I'm definitely intrigued. What is it then that you focus on? Are you able to "escape" or get in a zone that allows you to forget the pain because that's what makes the marathon so tough is the pain of it all!

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    Replies
    1. The times I've worked with Dr. Asp have been sort of surreal/hypnotic races. I start to hurt and immediately I'm able to push that sensation to the background. Yes, I still want to be DONE those last few miles, but I'm not focusing on how much I hurt or any negative thoughts. The positive coping thoughts Dr. Asp and I have worked on together and put into the CD come immediately to mind. Plus, he just has such a unique way of looking at competition, effort, etc! He's always able to give me a picture or sum things up for me in a way that helps me to see the race differently and just focus on EFFORT. I am a huge believer!!

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  4. Hey, check out my running blog at Columbusrun.blogspot.com

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