Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recovering mentally

It's been a while since a new post, and I've definitely been working hard at my running.  I did a runner's bootcamp for four weeks after my half.  It involved a lot of treadmill work, both speed and hills, plus rounds of weight training and core work.   It was beneficial in that it gave me time to get more comfortable on the treadmill again, and it also made me realize that as my back has been getting stronger that my abs are getting weaker.  Bad, bad, bad.

In addition to the bootcamp I have a goal of getting in an average of 30 miles per week.  My goal is to have 2012 be another year of assorted races (probably not as many as this year - still on track for 11 in '11!) including at least one half, with my eye half on doing a full.  The full I would love to do is the Nike Women's, but being it is in San Francisco, I think I need to do much more hill work.

Anyway, I had been consistent in my weekly runs, including getting up to 12 miles for my long run.  I was feeling much stronger and happier and was confident that I could tackle the 10K I had coming up.  A little background - the 10K is my mental weakness. I've never completed a 10K without walking.  And I don't mean just walking through the water stations - I mean actual walking.  I've done three prior 10K's - my first was when I was still new to running and couldn't run that distance even in training; my second started with my shorts sliding down and ended with me run/walking for 4 miles, desperately needing to poop; my third was in June and I went out too fast and ended up getting moderately dizzy at mile 5.

Given the above improvements I felt I've made recently, I felt like I could finally set a new PR (my current is from race #2. ).  I set a goal - 10:30 average.  Hey - I said I'm slow, and I mean it.

So this 10K - Tuft's Women Healthcare.  Boston in October - perfect running weather, right?  And it was the week before and the week after the race.  The day of - happened to be a day that was in the mid-80s.  Record highs for that day.  And the race started at noon.

Sooo....I let the heat get to me.  Mentally.  The first two miles were good, in that they were fast - maybe too fast.  The last two miles and a bit I definitely was in my game - I was rocking it.  The middle two?  Utter collapse.  I have this thing that kicks in somewhere between 1.5 and 2 miles - my body realizes that I'm actually running, and tries to convince me to walk.  Most of the time I can fight through.  I think my 10K non-successes and the heat overrid my normal mental strength.

Long story short (too late!), I ended with a time that was 8 minutes slower than my PR.

I will say this about the race - I honestly think it was the first where I wasn't at some level surprised that I finished.

So, first race where I really felt that I underperformed.  A lot of my other races felt slower than I wanted to be, but this was the first where I felt let down by my mind more than my body.

Writing this out is a step towards moving past it.  I'm going to take it as a strange milestone.  I've now been racing long enough that I have high expectations of myself.

Now to move on.  I will take the lesson from this - I know my weak time in a race, and will find a motto to repeat to myself to make myself realize what is happening, and how to handle it.  I've been practicing more of my tempo runs to make sure that my goals are realistic - which they seem to be.  I will be practicing staying in my own head at the start line so I can remember to go out slower.

My next race is two days before Halloween.  It's a devil themed race and I will be dressing up.  I do have goals, including not walking this time.  I think I can trick myself though - this race is 6.66 so it's not a 10K!

I will end this post by saying that there is one benefit to this race.  It finally gave me a race picture good enough that I am seriously considering purchasing it.

1 comment:

RoseRunner said...

the mind is the most powerful running muscle you have. I'm always working on strengthening mine. It really is the key to a great or an awful race -- more so than the miles you put in to training. That's my take at least...