Friday, September 30, 2011

Rounding the Bend

It is interesting to see the things I am experiencing as I draw closer to my 2011 goal of completing my first half marathon as compared to what fellow runners are also going through.  Some of the late training doldrums certainly hit me, as training runs drag longer and become less inspiring.  As I enter this home stretch, though, I’m becoming more and more excited about scratching the half off of my to-do list.  I can’t wait until race day!

Going through races leading up to the big day has helped me out.  A couple of weeks ago I ran the longest yet; a 15k race.  What surprised me was that I ran the entire thing.  My walk breaks were only at water stops, and probably about 15 seconds each.  This gave me the idea that I might try to run the entire half.  I won’t shy from taking a break if I need to, but I believe if I dig deep I can do it. 

The end of the Cerner KC 15k; looking worse than I thought!

I’ve also spent a bit of time thinking about how far I’ve come this year, and some of the lessons I have learned along the way.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve only been running for seven months; less than a year, and I’m about to run a half marathon.  I have to remind myself that a 5k was out of the question this time last year, and I just ran 9.2 miles.  I have to remind myself that my goals at this point should be finishing, and not based upon times.  Some of the lessons I’ve learned are:

Race day effect:  I have found that on race day, you will perform better than you have in your training runs.  The adrenaline, being among fellow runners, and just being caught up in the moment will inspire you to push harder than you ever have.  I’m not talking slightly harder; you will do much better than you have previously (at least in my experience) as long as you have tapered a bit before the race (always one rest day before a race of doing nothing). 

Listening to the body:  I heard this from many different sources beforehand, but I can’t say enough how absolutely true this is.  I’ve started to tune into my body more these days.  When I have a bad run, I know why, and I’m able to make the correction.  Sometimes it is just a lack of recovery time, and I know that if I just keep working and then resting the good runs will come.  I have confidence that I can prepare myself for race days (I hope I’m right, anyway!).  The more you run, the better you’ll know your body.  In the beginning, I didn’t know it at all.  Over time, I’ve come to understand myself better.

Locus of control:  We are so good at putting limits on ourselves.  We can exceed what our mind tells us our limits are.  As I was running the 15k, a thought came to my mind.  I started to tell myself “you are a machine…your legs are prepared for whatever is thrown their way.  You’ve prepared for this.”  It sounds dorky, but I pictured the bottom half of my body to be like a robot.  No hills were going to stop this machine.  Each drink of water or Gatorade was just fuel to prime me for the miles ahead.  This helped take some of the mental aspects out of the long run.  I’ll have to think of something new for upcoming races…that one might not work again.  I’m a big believer in mantras and mind tricks to push you forward.

I’ve learned so much from my DailyMile friends, bloggers, Twitter friends, podcasts, books, etc.  There is a wealth of information out there and a community of people who truly want to help you meet and exceed your goals.  I can’t wait to finish St. Louis Rock N’ Roll and lay out my plans for 2012!

Enjoy your progress…


P.S.:  Check out my friend Mike's blog at:
He's giving a great book by John "The Penguin" Bingham away there.  Not just for that reason, Mike writes some good stuff and is a good follow.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trending Downward

I’ve been noticing a bad trend here lately.  I’m hoping things are on the upswing, though. 

My last few runs have been, well, subpar.  After a very successful 10k, I had some bad runs along with a pitiful attempt at a “long run” prior to a trip to Vegas.  Today was my first day back from a weekend of bad nutrition, no exercise, but a lot of fun!  The results (of my run) were awful.  I struggled to get through two miles.  My legs and feet didn’t feel good at all.  It almost felt like I was back to square one!

So obviously this makes me a bit nervous.  I’m ready for a “good run,” but concerned it may not come my way.  There are some possibilities that I’ve mulled over for my current low period, including:

1.    -    I’ve started a short softball season, taxing my legs and body (particularly my back) in different ways.  This has led to some new pains.

2.     -   I’ve had a few new free weight workouts; I think they’re helping with my strength but again they’re taxing. 

3.      -  This seems to be a typical training season malaise period, as evidenced by reports I see on DailyMile.
4.       My body has not adjusted to the new challenges from above.

I think things will turn around as my body gets used to this new load, and I’ll be better for it in the long run.  Time is shrinking, though.  I have a 15k coming up in a few weeks, and my half marathon is in October.  I’m hopeful I’ll get on track soon. 

I’ve got some confidence brewing, though.  If I just keep stirring this confidence, I think I’ll be okay…

This morning was in the 50's!  Not cold, but cooler.  I'm going to need some cold weather gear in the future, but I really have no idea what to get.  Looking for some ideas...

Enjoy your progress!