With just over 6 weeks to go until my big goal race of the year, it’s
go time. My training thus far has been great – it’s been enjoyable and
fun. I’ve had the chance to run with a lot of friends and not having a
coach has afforded me additional flexibility in my schedule that
allows for more running for simply the sake of running.
Now, as my running buddies are either on their honeymoon (Asia),
tapering for their first Ironman (Brooke) or 30 weeks pregnant
(Allison), I am running alone more and I’m focusing a bit more. And
Several Fall races have come and gone and some of my (virtual or IRL)
friends have achieved goals and some have failed. I’ve allowed some of
their successes to boost me up and some of their failures to create
doubts. Now is the time to push all of that away and focus on myself.
Now is about me. My training is mine and no one else’s and my race day
is all about what I do, not what anyone else has or hasn’t done before
The Long Beach Half Marathon was a wake-up call. Not because I didn’t
PR. I’m very pleased with my time overall, especially compared to my
age group and overall results, considering the heat and that it was in
the middle of heavy marathon training. My race time was fast enough
given the conditions to indicate I have a sub 3:35 marathon in me,
especially on a faster course with much, much cooler weather.
It was a wake-up call because it really made me realize how much you
have to not only WANT a goal and FOCUS on that goal to make it happen.
I can’t simply go out and wish and hope that everything goes right at
CIM and BQ. I have to WANT it so bad that I don’t give up during those
hard miles. Because, there will be hard miles.
If I take my first few steps of the marathon and find that my legs are
heavy, I can’t let that allow me to give up. If I pass the half
marathon mark slower than I had hoped, I can’t throw in the towel. I
need to focus. I didn’t focus at Long Beach. I danced and sung to
Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off at Mile 10 of Long Beach. At Phoenix, I
passed through the half marathon arch 30 seconds behind pace and
mentally gave up. At CIM I need to dance in my head and focus. I’m not
saying I’m not going to engage with the crowd and have fun – that is
part of my race strategy – but what I’m saying is, in those last 6
miles, I will have one thought – get to the finish line. don’t give up
and don’t let this goal slip away again. I need to be on a mission.
With 6.5 weeks to go, I still can make a lot of progress. I can also
focus on the little things – getting enough sleep, reducing stress,
yoga, foam rolling, stretching, drinking less beer and eating healthy.
I also plan to do a lot of reflecting on the WHY. Why do I want to
qualify? What does it mean for me? At Bird Camp, Lauren Fleshman gave
a great talk on goals and I plan to think through everything she said
and do some serious reflecting. Why do I want to run down Boylston
street one day? And what pain am I willing to go through to get there?
More to come….
What tricks do you use to focus during a race, especially when it gets hard?b
Keep up the great work. I just PR’d on the Fast Track 5k by 1:20 and had to stop and walk because I got out of breath and felt sick, but still finished at 23:03 which was 3 second short of getting in the A Corral for the Peachtree. Got to meet Frank Shorter there and get his autograph! Had I just been able to gut it out I could have easily done it but my body and mind shut down and I could not override it. This Saturday I’m doing a half I did at 2:01:13 and hope to get that down under 2 and hopefully better. I’ll try to pace 9 minute miles. I’d like to run Boston, but have a long, long way to go. I’ll try in Jan. and maybe March to run marathons and work on my endurance and speed. I’ll need to hit 3:55 or better next year. Maybe in a year or two I’ll be ready. They say you improve for 10 year so I have 8 more to get there.
I not only successfully completed my very first marathon, I did it under my goal of 5 hours! I ran it in 4:56:45 and I couldn’t be any happier!! I ran my marathon for an entirely different reason–my husband and I are in the process of adopting and I used the marathon as a platform to help raise money for our adoption. What helped me focus during the hard miles was not only how much money was raised and how many people donated but also to why I was running. I ran for the future child God has chosen for us. I trained for 26 weeks to be happy with my time and we ended up raising over $8000!! That was enough to keep me focused. You will do just fine. You are a very gifted runner 🙂 Can’t wait to see how you do!!
That is an absolutely amazing story! Congratulations on the race and good luck with your adoption!!!
I say a mantra like ‘strong mind, strong legs’ or ‘happy heart, happy legs’ 🙂
It usually starts to get really hard for me around mile 22-23, that’s when I want to give up. My go-to is to remind myself I have about the length of an episode of Modern Family to go and that I always complain about how quickly that goes by. It seems to do the trick! That said, I’ve run CIM before and it’s a great course – the end miles are tough but it’s flat, it’s fast, and there’s great crowd support. Excited for you!
I like the idea of using a TV show metaphor! I used to do that as a kid by asking my dad how long we had to go based on Scooby Doo cartoons!
For me the biggest thing is going into each race with MANY goals. Some are time related for the finish (usually A-B-C goals with C being VERYYY conservative), and some for just along the way. I try and break races up into smaller chunks which mentally makes it more manageable. I like to look at course ahead of time. So if it’s out and back- focus on the ‘out’ and nothing else until you get to the ‘back’. Or if it’s a course with more turns, make mental notes to get from one turn to the next without thinking too far ahead. Some people say focus on the mile you are in but sometimes that is hard so I do a little bigger chunks and set goals to get to the next one.
This is really good advice! I think that’ll help a lot to break it up and my best marathon has been on a course I drove ahead of time!
I read your blog and rarely comment. You remind me of me. Type A and goal oriented.
Do you feel at all that you sometimes give up on yourself? I took a break from climbing to go on vacation and realized that sometimes I don’t push myself and mentally give up, not because I can’t do it (I train hard enough just like you) but because what happens next after I succeed? Or what happens if I try so hard and don’t succeed? It’s easier to be in control and be able to say I didn’t try that hard then to try hard and lose if that makes sense. I realized that I need to work on my mental side more than my physical side. From reading I think you need to too. You have the training down and the times down. You just need to trust your training and mentally focus on it. (Easier said then done).
Oh and competitive swimming in college had us do mental training.
Yes the mental side is definitely the harder part to train than the physical! A marathon is so about successfully managing the voices that tell you to stop. I’m definitely working on it!
Thanks for reading and the insight!
Leslie @ Triathlete Treats
Great post!! These last weeks are the hardest and if you can focus the better prepared you can be for the race! You are in the right mind set “You have to want the goal”. It is totally true as soon as you give up mentally it is all over!! You are going to nail this one!!!
I try and think about all the training i have done the last 3,4,6 months whatever it has been and say you just want to give that all away! Keep moving! Keep going!! Go hard or go home!!