My mental game needs... a little work

And that's stating things nicely.

I had said in my 5k report that I decided to cruise the last mile because I knew I was on pace for sub-20 and was perfectly happy finishing just under that benchmark.

Plus, I didn't really know if I was going to blow up if I tried anything, so why not be cautious?

Yesterday I went out and did 3x1 miles HARD with 800m recovery. Craig was nice enough to join me even though he was racing the Birkie on Saturday.

(well, maybe. Maybe not. At that point we didn't know, but it didn't exactly look like any sort of ski race could happen. We had another 60 degree day in MN that afternoon)

Because what is a post without a picture? Greta clearly loved her first time skiing :)
I was perfectly content to hurt when I was running next to him. He hung back a little during the last 1/4 of a mile the first repeat, which then made time go by so much slower. I'd give my mental game a B+ range for the good section, C- for the 1/4 of the mile section. That probably gives me a weighted average of C+/B-?

He finished the second repeat just ahead of me. Mental game = totally fine throughout. I focused on him and tried to get my legs to move! Mental game: B+.

During the 800 meter easy segment before the last repeat, I kept thinking: "You're going to stop during this last one. It's okay to stop." Craig wasn't doing the 3rd one with me so it would be easy to take a rest.

Then: "No one will know if you stop or not. Just take 15 seconds at a little over half way."

Then: "You'll know if you stop, Nichole."

... you can fill in the rest of the back-and-forth conversation I had with myself. I know y'all have had the same.

Knowing I was likely going to find a way out during the repeat, I told Craig where my head was at. I said that perhaps I could run the third one around his work building. That way he could either: watch me before he headed in, spy on me from inside, or I could just think that he was spying on me (giving me the motivation not to be "caught" stopping).

He offered to do the first 1/4 of a mile with me. We exchanged a high-five and I said, "Alright. If you're willing to do that for me, I'll promise not to stop after you turn back."

I am happy to say that I did it. I finished, no stopping. I don't even know what grade to give myself for my mental game on that one. I think it was too messy to even be able to grade.

I did slow considerably after Craig turned off. I'm not sure if that was physical - because each of my workouts now are getting progressively harder/longer, or if it is mental and I'm just not able to dig as far as I used to. I also willed my legs to find another gear the last 150 meters, but they were stationary. Seriously. There was not one change in my stride, cadence, or speed.

I'm to the point in my training where my weaknesses are starting to show. You know, the point where you aren't 100% a mess, so the messy parts are actually noticeable? :) I've shared my observations with Jerry and training partners, and will continue to work on them during every training run or workout I'm given!

Workout summary: 10 miles with 3x1 mile hard with 800m recovery. Miles in 6:17, 6:18, 6:27.

For reference, just 6 weeks ago a 2x1 mile workout was done at 6:50 pace. Workout recap from that is here. It's fun to see progress!

Your turn:

What mental strategies work for you during hard workouts! Share - we can all use some new tips or mantras to use!

Because what is a post without a picture? Greta clearly loved her first time skiing :)

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!

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