I had a bad run. And then another one. And then a quality speed workout where I didn’t hit any of the target paces. The spiral downward and negative talk started. What was I doing? Why was I out here busting my tail at 5:30am? Why was I signing up for races? And for goodness sakes, why was I so cocky to think I would run a half marathon as a TRAINING run with 10k paces built into it? This was my mindset last fall going into winter with two big 10ks on the schedule. I had ambitious goals. It never once occurred to me that it may take more than one training cycle to achieve my run goal. It never once occurred to me that the trap I was in of constantly comparing myself to my running friends (who had a completely different plan), was going to affect me in such a negative way. My Garmin and I needed to break-up, and I needed some time off. Looking back, I realized I normally don’t plan two spring AND two fall races AND one winter race. Hind sight really is 20/20. So what did I do?
Well, I didn’t hit my 10k goal. I missed it by a LOT. It was a hilly race, but I actually finished in top 10 age group. I ran the first half well, second half was a struggle. I was a bag of mixed emotions. I felt capable; I felt embarrassed I had family and friends come to cheer me and I didn’t perform well. The next 10k, I actually had a pacer. My run coach. That didn’t go well either. Here’s the kicker: I got 2nd in my age group (small race).
Put the brakes on. Top 10 and top 2? Is that really horrible? No. It’s not. But the self-talk was.
So I took break. I didn’t meet up with my running friends. I didn’t push my mileage. I slept in more. I recovered. I did a lot of yoga (I love Hot Yoga ). I didn’t go on Garmin Connect to look at what the others were doing. I ran slow. I ran as easy as it took to make sure my breathing was under control.
One of my first runs back was with Karen who was in peak marathon training. It was a cold, windy day and she had 1000m repeats to knock out. I said I would join. I got to the track and felt the panic start. It wasn’t a race. It was a work-out! I bailed and said I was doing my own thing. So, I ran hard at the distance I wanted to run and walked when I didn’t feel like running any more. Repeat. I didn’t look at my watch. It turns out, Holly, our run coach, was out on the track at the same time doing her workout. She was running next to me and asked if I wanted to know the pace. She never did tell me but did say it was faster than my training.
I ran like this for a couple more weeks. I started listening to sports psychologists on podcasts ( Karen recently wrote a Book Review by one of my favorite speakers/authors, Cindra Kamphoff). I released running expectations for this coming fall. My only goal was to run happy. Slowly, surely, I came back around. I started adding to my long run. I kept on reading; Deena Kastor’s book, Let Your Mind Run was instrumental. I worked on positive self-talk and some quick mantras I could say to myself. And, I took out the comparison of myself to others. It’s much easier to run with a group you aren’t constantly racing. I also realized running is my HOBBY. I’m not sponsored. I don’t have a contract with Nike (but happy to demo some shoes). There was no reason for me to be worked up on an activity that I think is fun!
I also, as mentioned in another posts, I added in strength training (Strength Training in Real Life). I also saw a chiropractor who helped me eliminate some lingering pain in my right leg. I continued to eat well (A Cookbook We Love: Run Fast, Eat Slow and Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow (more recipe reviews!) are my go-to choices). I joined Godiva Run Club so that I could work through race jitters with a gun going off for the start.
I have no idea what my times for fall races will be. I’m mentally present for my runs; I’m doing the work, and, I’m having a lot more fun this time around.