Monday, November 24, 2008

Mental Game

First let me say congratulations for all those in Philly this past weekend! I look forward to reading race reports and seeing how everyone is feeling today. I hope it wasn't too cold or wintery. Only crazy people would attempt to run 42km in late November in the freezing cold, snow, slush - mess. You have to be a little off your rocker?? :)

That brings me to today's thought on running - the mental game. As many know, I have had some set backs in my training in the recent months with Plantar Faciitis and some shin pains. After weeks of no running, many massages, orthotics and countless hours stretching - I am back at it. I had two weeks of "building back up" but this week I am back on schedule and while my finishing goal is slighly altered, I am still in the game.

However, yesterday I attempted my first really long run in quite a while. I had decided that it was going to be final test to decide if I was going to make it in the full at Disney. One of the other runners going to Disney was going to come to my house so we could attempt 29km together but on Saturday she advised that a pulled muscle had her sidelined for a week or so. Suddenly, I was attempting to run nearly 30km all by myself and I was totally, 100% terrified. I don't know what was the matter with me but in the hour leading up to the run I was convinced this was a mistake and I was full of dread and doubt. I hated the idea of getting out in the cold to run a distance I had never done in my life, by myself. This is when I really wish I had a running group that I participate with. I know, I know - there are lots and I will hook up. I just find scheduling a real challange with a full time job, two little people and their schedules. Not to mention finding some time in the week to actually converse with my hubby.

Back to my stress... so I was getting suited up and having a near mental collapse. My husband was telling me all the right things and promised to drive by me a few times. I had my cell phone on me to call him (he was taking our son to a birthday party and then grocery shopping with the little one). I finally got out there and within 5 minutes I realized my iPod was dead. Could there be any more signs of failure???? I ran back to my house to put back the quiet iPod and was even more petrified of 3 hours of nothing but my own spinning thoughts. Nevertheless..off I went.

The first 7 or 8km were horrible. I was sore and it seemed colder than I thought. I thought up all the explanations I could give to the Arthritis Society, our family, our friends - my kids as to why I couldn't do the marathon. I had lost so much training time already and there was no way I could get it back. At about 10km, I stopped at a gas station to use the facilities and while I was there I called my husband to come and get me. If you can believe it, he didn't answer - after he had promised to have the phone practially in his hand! I called twice and got no answer so I had no choice but to carry on.

All of the sudden, I felt better. I had myself a tasty energy burst with a chocolate GU (my favourite) and I was running along. I decided at this point to take off my watch and put it in my pocket. So now I am running with no iPod, no watch and cell phone which proved to be a useless security line because my husband was deep in the grocery megastore and had no service. It occured to me at one point that I had probably passed 20km but I still felt OK!

About 30 or so minutes past this point, I started to go downhill (figuratively speaking). My head was dizzy and my heart was racing. What was crazy is that my husband happened to drive by at that exact moment that I felt like I was going to fall down. I took that as a sign and I jumped in the car and went home. At first I was really upset that I hadn't finished 29km. Then after I got home and had my stardard post long run snack of toasted english muffin and peanut butter, I checked MapMyRun. I had gone 26km. This is the longest distance I have ever run in my life. I have no idea how long it took me and I don't care. I was overwhelmed that I had done it and the lunacy of my head games along the way seemed so insignificant now. If there was ever a moment that I would classify as "pivotal" , that was it.

This morning I feel a little sore but the pains in my feet are not nearly as bad as they have been or as I expected them to be. I feel a level of confidence that I never had before and although we have only 5 more weeks of training before tapering - I know I can do it. Putting aside the possibilites of a dumptruck mowing me down or tripping over a set of Star Wars figures on my staircase - I am going to do it. I don't think I ever fully respected the mental strength and capacity required to run those distances but I see it much better now and I can't wait to go to Disney now and see it through.

So, I have my eyes open for dumptrucks and all the Star Wars figures are in a box on a shelf - just in case.

20 comments:

Sonia said...

Great job on the 26K! Going by yourself after being all round up to run with someone is hard to do.

Running such long distance alone without watch and ipod, are real confidence booster and that might be what you needed =)

Glad to hear the foot is holding on, I do know exactly how frustrating it is to be sidelined because of PF. Mine went as bad as heel spur and I am still not running because of that. So, take care of that foot and you'll be running Disney =)

Kim said...

GREAT JOB! You should be so proud of yourself working through such a mentally hard run. Disney will be a breeze compared to that with everything going on.

Pat yourself on the back. Rest up and look forward to all you've worked so hard for! It's about that time!

Melanie said...

Congrats on your milestone! That's incredible that you pushed though and did it. Running is definitely as much mental as physical. Disney is getting closer and with the confidence you now have after yesterday, you will do awesome!

FLYERS26 said...

Great job!
The mental part of running, I think is harder than the run itself.
If you did your longest run, without an Ipod, and watch, you can do it!
I just completed my 1st marathon yesterday in Philly, and as tough as it was, the crowd & having my wife at the finish, was all I needed.
You'll look back at yesterday's run and it'll give you confidence that you can do it!
Plus, I'm sure Disney should be nice weather! Keep that in mind.

Marci said...

Awesome job - let me know if you want to run 30km next weekend, I'm game.

Denise said...

Terrific job!! It's so tough to do the long runs by yourself. You should be so proud of yourself.

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations! Mental confidence is a bit part of distance running.

Janice said...

isn't is amazing how much mental work it takes to run long distance. Of course we need to have our physical body ready and in shape but I always say it is a mental game with yourself. Good job on running that far. I always run by myself (no friends yet here in Kentucky) but most days I dont mind. Gives me alot of me time.

*aron* said...

awesome job!!!! seriously SO MUCH of running is mental... its crazy! especially in those long distances. you will totally finish the full marathon, no doubt! you still have 5 weeks to go before taper, you will totally get there!

i always say that these hard mental runs are so much more important than some of the easier runs. when it gets tough in a marathon you will look back on this run and know you pushed through those hard spots and it will totally pull you along.

CONGRATS on a great run!

Marlene said...

26K without music or a buddy? You are a rock star. The mental game is a tough one - I hate when my mind plays tricks on me. Way to get through it!!!

Legs and Wings said...

You should feel confident. That was a certain test and you managed all the issues very well. And, you're right about it being a mental game. Keep working at it.

robinbb said...

Great job on finishing. I agree that long distance running is totally mental. I have bonked on both my marathons due to my mind not wanting to keep moving. On yesterday's run, I made my husband start rambling to me in order to finish the last 5 of my 20 miles. I finished at race pace, I couldn't believe my mind thought I couldn't do it. See you at Disney. It is so much fun and the kids love it! (My girls can't wait to go, and going to the parks after the marathon with your medal will get your feet moving)

The Happy Runner said...

So much of running is mental and it can be tough to battle your own mind! But, let that 26k show that you are tougher than you think. Your longest run -- that's terrific!

I hope the foot continues to heal and feel OK.

Gotta Run said...

Running is full of mental ups and downs. As soon as you see the bad thoughts creeping in than put a stop to it and FAST!!

YOU ARE STRONG AND WILL EAT UP THE RACE AT DISNEY.

tfh said...

The mental side is so tied up with the physical...sometimes it's hard to know how much harder we make running for ourselves than it needs to be! But I want to try to take your challenge-- to do what you did, no Ipod, no watch, just running long-- because it sounds like very, very good practice for the kind of mental toughness we need as runners. Thanks for the inspiring post and great running!

Runnergirl said...

Great job! The mental part is always harder than the physical part. You will do great at Disney! I used to run all my long runs on my own and loved it. Now, I enjoy running with someone, or a group, probably because I am a stay at home Mom and I like the grown up conversations. Congratulations on a great run!

joyRuN said...

Whoa! Great job in pulling off the 26K when you were ready to get picked up at 10K!!!

Congratulations! If pulling through all that isn't a great indication of your mental fortitude, I don't know what is. You're gonna rock Disney!

Viv said...

I know it had to be tough when you were already fighting the mental games, then the iPod going out ugh cherry on the icing I am sure. You did it though and that speaks volumes!! Like a huge volume on Disney will go great! Hope you recover well from this long one and keep up letting the mind know you are the boss!

D10 said...

Well done. You won the mental battle and that is what is sometimes most important. You proved that you can run alone ad without an ipod. You should be very proud of yourself.

MCM Mama said...

Good job on your run! The mental side is so hard. Every time I went out for a long run while I was training, I had a mini panic attack beforehand.

Keep up the good work!