I mean activity! Running is a mental activity. I’m not sporty remember!
This is a long post: The first half is about Training the Mind, the second half is about the Launceston 10 yesterday.
Training the Mind
Marathon number four (Gold Coast Marathon) is three weeks away. I’ve been working on my mental toughness and particularly on visualising to help me through those last 20 to 15kms. Marathon number one I hit the wall early (26km), Marathon number two it was about the last 10km that it got tough, but thanks to visualisation training I was ready for it and pushed through. Marathon number three it was half way, but thanks to believing that I could and sheer determination, I made it.
Time to be accountable and set some goals down here in writing for the next 42.2kms.
Gold Coast Marathon Goals
- Run all the way
- Minimal walking at drink stops
- To be happy and smile
- To remember that running is a gift and to treat it so during the marathon
- To reserve half of my energy for the last third of the race
- To finish in five hours
There is an excellent chapter in Tim Noakes’ book Lore of Running on Training the Mind. One of the things he discusses is the need to prepare the Central Governor (the mind) for what the run is going to bring. He suggests that we study the course so that when we get to the event the mind knows what we’re up against and is ready to tackle it. If we don’t there is a chance that the old Central Governor will say You didn’t tell me about that hill? Hey Legs! You can walk this bit. And with that goes our chance of meeting our goal for the event.
The chapter talks about goal setting. It actually talks about racing goals too but since I don’t race I found that all bit too scary! This is quite a complex section of the book and again because I don’t race I found it hard to get my head around. The thing that I take from it is that setting goals is another way to prepare the Central Governor for success – that is to run the event in a way that fulfils our hopes and dreams.
Noakes talks about visualisation. This is something that I take seriously because it works. From early days at bootcamp trying to perfect my wall sits: as the lactic acid burned I would tell myself that this very wall sit I was attempting would help me run Point to Pinnacle. I would imagine how I would feel crossing that finish line. I could see it. I could taste it. I wanted it! I got determined. Then when I’d completed the wall sit I felt successful and like I could achieve anything! The more I pushed through, the more I believed that I would be able to run up that mountain. And I did.
With Melbourne Marathon I took visualisation more seriously and literally took myself through the entire course with the help of Robin Arzon’s little 4 minute YouTube (I did this visualisation exercise every day for weeks leading up to the event). Coupled with the actual marathon running training and the stars lining up on the day, visualisation was what got me through. I achieved my sub-five hour marathon but not only that, I LOVED the whole experience. When the going got tough I reached inside to a reserve that I had never used before, stayed positive and kept running.
There is so much more in this Training the Mind chapter and indeed in the whole book. Some chapters are heavy and technical but well worth the read.
Running is a mental sport? It sure is. This was brought home to me when I saw a friend from uni days (that’s the early 1980s) running the 5kms of the Launceston 10 yesterday. She had less than 2km to go and was walking. I came up behind her and told her she was doing a good job and firmly told her to put your run on! She laughed and smiled and started running. We are born to run. We just have to convince ourselves that we can do it. AND that we can do it when the going gets tough. Appropriate training and mental toughness will get us to where we want to go. The first step is to believe and tell that old Central Governor that we’re going to run the whole way!
The biggest thing I constantly tell myself is that my legs are able to run for hours way after my brain tells me that they can’t. Our brain is designed to conserve our energy, our legs on the other hand have boundless resources that most of us never tap into.
Let’s face it. I don’t tap into those reserves like I should. Delicate Runner Syndrome (as I call it) frequently stops me from pushing too hard. I’d rather run slow and for a long way than fast and pop a valve that might stop me from running. But I take this too far and use it as an excuse to go slow.
Launceston 10 was a good example. I looked for someone with a 60 minute goal to run with. No, not because I’m nice, but because I wanted an excuse! There were pacer balloons right up to 65 minutes yesterday. I decided (with the help of some strong encouragement from Janette) to try and stay between the 55 and 60 minute balloons. I also set the goal of doing a negative split.
It was freezing out there 2°C. I started at the back. I hardly looked at my watch because of the pacers (although there were a couple of times when the 65 was in front of the 60 and the 55 way behind both). At the 5km turn around my split was 27:49. I kept telling myself that I’d put in a good effort and that I could keep up the pace. I was still able to chat. I thanked all the volunteers and encouraged a few around me who were starting to show signs of slowing down and being fatigued. It was great seeing Janette out on the course and a number of other The Running Group members who weren’t running. The cheering and encouragement was wonderful. I’m happy with my run. I pushed myself enough and finished in 54:18 with an average pace of 5:20 minutes per km. That’s pretty good for this Unsporty Woman. (My 2015 PB of 51:57 stands).
Three weeks to go until Marathon number four. A good hit out at Launceston 10 was just what I needed by way of running encouragement. I can run faster and harder for longer than I think I can and I showed myself this! This has been peak week of marathon training (all up 63kms). I can do more than I think I can and so can you! What was once my dream distance (10km) is now a short training run. If I can do all this ANYONE can! Truly anyone can. I’m the Unsporty Woman and I’m about to run Marathon Number Four! If I can you can. Never doubt yourself!!!
Happy running 🙂
PS I’m pleased to report that the flood waters have almost completely receded. The clean up job is still underway. Many people are still counting the huge cost and will continue to do so for years to come.
Here are some running photos that make me smile – thanks to Janette and Malcolm for taking them.