Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Word Up...

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."
 - George Sheehan

Like the forceful older sister I am, I 'asked' Lurvis if I could take over the post this week because I saw this quote on the Marathon Training Academy's page and it so precisely fits the place I'm at in my training I couldn't resist.

I have never been, nor will I ever be, speedy. In fact, when I sign up for a race, I always look at the prior year's results in order to answer the very important question; Will I come in last? If the answer is comfortably no, I fill out the form and it's on. 

By the time I finished training for the Worcester Half last summer, I had completed training runs up to 11.7 miles without stopping to walk. However, since I started training for the marathon, I'd yet to run further than about three miles without a 'rest'.  At first, I thought it was just the dynamic of training on my own without a team to push me, but even if that walking period was only about thirty seconds, it was still starting to annoy me. I knew that with the amount of training I'd done, there was no reason I couldn't run for more than an hour without stopping. Any fatigue and 'need' to rest was all in my head. Literally.

So, on Sunday, when I headed out for my five miler, I told myself I was running the whole thing. No questions, just running. In my head, I found myself chanting at times pick it up, put it down, pick it up, put it down and to remind myself to just take a deep breath every once in awhile. This was just for the first couple miles. After awhile, your body gets into a rhythm and if you don't break that rhythm by stopping to walk, you suddenly find that your well-trained machine of a body is doing exactly what you've worked to make it do. 

The third mile (as is almost always the case) was my slowest mile, but then I picked it back up in miles 4 and 5 and had a great run. When I walked through the door, I felt amazing. I definitely felt like I could have gone a few more miles without really needing a rest, but more than anything I had proven to myself again that I was perfectly capable of doing this if I just get out of my own head for a minute. Plus, I really, really wanted to be able to text L and tell her I'd done it. 

Now, my goal for tomorrow when I head out for 13 is to run the first 5 miles, stop for about 30 seconds to get some water and a couple honey stingers, then at miles 7, 10 and 12, I will stop for water. I just need to make it from 'water station' to 'water station' and I'll be golden.

Arming myself with not only great music to cruise by (have you added Mumford and Son's The Cave and Muse's Uprising to your queue yet? You must!), but some motivating phrases like the one my training partner uses 'Stronger, Thinner, Faster', I'm going to be able to silence that voice in my head that lures me into walking when I know it's not what I need. What I need is for the run to be d-o-n-e done so that I can walk in the door and feel good about another training run ticked off the list, and make my way to the victory that is the ice bath. 

Do you have an internal monologue that gets you past the threshold? 


  1. I realized that I was going into my personal training sessions worried about how soon I would feel out of my element rather than getting myself mentally prepared. Even though I always feel great afterward, I was annoyed about that side of it. Then a section of Run Like a Mother popped into mind when one of the authors (I don't have my book to get the exact quote) talked about truly feeling empty and running into the pain on a particular race. It made me think back to my word of the year embrace as well. Now, I am focusing on gearing up mentally before each activity that pushes me physically!

  2. I love this post as I can so TOTALLY relate to it. I am not a zippy runner. I ran a 9:30 mile yesterday and it is my best time EVER and will likely never be repeated, and who knows, maybe I lost track of my number of laps around the track? Anyway, I am also finding that frequent 'rest' breaks while running are becoming my norm, and I want to break past that mental rut. I chant to myself how amazing I will feel when I walk in the door after a run that didn't require stopping...I remind myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other...and sometimes it's still just hard. Oh, and when I feel like I'm going to just give up, I flip to the song 'Show Me What I'm Looking For' by Carolina Liar on my iPod. Sometimes it helps me pick up the pace...definitely my favorite running song. Good luck on your long run today!!