Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thinking about your worst enemy

Wicked witch of the west
IT bands, shin splints, stress fractures and sore quads are nothing. The pain that slows me the most is in my head.

No, I'm not talking about migraines (although I struggle with those sometimes too). I'm talking self-inflicted sabotage. The wall before "the" wall. The engine that could but became wholly convinced she couldn't so she took a nap.

In my last post, I mentioned all the time I wasted last week pondering my race feelings. Do I like it? Should I be doing it? Should I sit on my lazy butt instead? Thank the angel on my shoulder for winning that battle.

It's no secret that racing isn't exactly a massage. But it sure feels great when you're done -- the exercise, the adrenaline, the endorphins, the pride, the camaraderie, the achievement. And fresh off Saturday's race, I have to admit racing a good one doesn't hurt remotely as bad as I remembered. So why all the hate?

Honestly, I can't explain it.

What I realized today, however, is that tune-up races take the wuss out of your stride. For weeks I had struggled with running my targeted paces. Sub-8's were for sprinting miles. But after Saturday's race, I've felt pretty comfortable running base miles in the low-7's without going breathless the way I might have last week.

Is my watch broken? No. Has my fitness changed in a matter of days? No. Apparently proving to my brain that I could run 7:40 over 10 miles was enough to banish the wuss covering the accelerator. Now how can I get that feeling to stick around (and ditch the wuss)?

My friend Melissa told me when I first started training that I overthink on the run, and I keep her voice with me still whenever the wuss starts creeping into my head. But all too often the wuss wins.

Case in point: a couple weeks ago, I pumped up my treadmill pace to 9 mph without really knowing actual pace. I ran with healthy effort for two miles before the math worked out in my head -- 6:40 pace. Then I started questioning myself. Well ahead of my 5K PR and not even struggling, suddenly I was stumbling over myself. It's as if my brain says "you're not allowed to do THAT!" and my legs comply. It's just not right.

After reading Matt Fitzgerald's Brain Training last year, I've made some serious breakthroughs with mind over matter. But I have such a long way to go. Sure, greater confidence comes with experience. I just need to make sure the wuss on my back doesn't stop me from getting that experience.


Charlie said...

Run fast G. You can do whatever you set your sights on.

Landon said...

Hmmm. Brain Training. You might be missing that book...

GP said...

No worries, Landon: I picked up a copy.