Friday, October 4, 2013

My second-best recent running accomplishment

Last week, when I set out for my 10-mile long run, I had high hopes.

My nine-miler had gone incredibly well — a 9:16 pace, without pushing myself like I did during my speedy 10K and recent 5K PR. Such effortless speed, though, wasn't meant to be during the 10-miler.

As soon as I set out, I thought of Karla Bruning's recent post about the half marathon PR that was NOT meant to be. I was just tired. Not achy or in pain, but just heavy and sluggish.

My first-half splits weren't bad (9:04, 9:00, 8:57, 8:53 and 9:20), and my second-half ones — though much slower — weren't truly bad, either (9:56, 9:21, 9:51, 9:47 and 9:50).

By then, I'd hit a hillier portion of the run, the temperature had of course risen some, and I was carrying a bottle of water, which always seems to weigh me down. All that plus normal fatigue equaled a slowdown.

So you're confused about the title of this post: "My second-best recent running accomplishment." Clearly it's not my times from this run, nor how I felt; it's also not just that I went out there and finished.

What it is, is how I mentally managed myself. When I first suspected that it wasn't my day, I told myself to calm down and give it a while. Maybe that worked, or maybe it was just the flatness of the first five miles. Doesn't matter — I didn't freak out.

I made it a little past the halfway point and got my water bottle, which as I mentioned was about the time that the run got rough. "You've got this, it's OK," I told myself, echoing what I'd said early on, when the doubts crept in.

Funny how that works better than "you suck," "quit being a (expletive) wimp" and other drill-sergeantlike things I've wheezed during unplanned walk breaks.

Also funny: how this time, unlike the meltdown half marathons, when I told myself to make it a mile, then stop for water, then start running again ... I actually did it. And the splits were slow, but not wounded-turtle-slow.

It probably helped to also know where the hills were, as opposed to during those races, because I did hold out the carrot of "at the top of the hill, you can walk."

Still, during those races, I've been able to see how much farther "one mile" is, and where the hill ends, and I've continually failed to follow through on "if you do X, you can walk."

Is it the positive self-talk? Is confidence finally accumulating after five years of running? Is my willpower strengthening? Is my modification of the training schedule the perfect one for me?

It's probably a combination of all the factors, and given how long it's taken to develop some mental strength, I don't feel bad at all for this long-winded pat on the back.

Here's hoping I can exercise this same muscle during the IMT half, if needed!

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