After a) cutting my long run short by 3 miles, b) walking half of each of the last three miles, and c) jumping into a smelly lake at mile 9 on my long run last week, it suffices to say that I didn’t feel great about my upcoming 14 miler this week. Thoughts of doubt, inadequacy, and rampant intimidation plagued me all week. Did it matter that I was extremely happy with every run since the failed long run? No. My confidence and my motivation were both in the toilet when it came to this week’s long run.
But this all smells very familiar. Remember the 18 mile treadmill run last March? I dreaded that for weeks, and the common thread is that I knew I had to do both of these runs on my own.
What if I get bored and want to quit?
What if I get a cramp and want to quit?
What if I start hurting at mile 12 and want to quit?
You’ll notice that maybe more than the pain or the distance, I’m simply afraid of wanting to quit when I know I’ll be alone. That makes NO SENSE. I have been a runner long enough to know that I will most definitely want to quit at some point if a run is fast enough or long enough, regardless of whether I’m alone or not. And you know what? I almost never quit when I’m alone, and when I do, it’s usually a matter of safety (as with aforementioned failed long run). In fact, I have never wanted to quit anything more in my life than the Providence Marathon, and yet I still managed to drag my miserable ass across all 26.2 miles.
So why haven’t I learned to trust my own thoughts to get me through?
I think recently, I’ve just been spoiled. I’ve gotten used to leaning on someone else to get me through, rather than myself. When I’m with Lina and I want to quit, she either talks me into not wanting to quit, or she admits to wanting to quit too, in which case, well, misery loves company. I do really love her company, but to mentally rely on her in that way is pretty lazy on my part. I need to work on exercising my own mental grit in addition to exercising my body.
As for today’s long run, I knew I had to at least attempt it and to help psyche myself up, I consulted some of my favorite running bloggers for motivation. However, I didn’t find any of the posts about “how to prepare for a long run” or “what I do to have good long runs” helpful this time. I know I should lay my running clothes out the night before (this, however, did NOT prevent me from forgetting my eff-ing Garmin this morning…grrr). I know I should hydrate the day before and bring water with me and/or plan for water on my route. This wasn’t the advice I needed.
What I needed was someone telling me this:
“Just do your long run and quit your bitching, ok? It might turn out better than you think.”
This quote by Angry Runner is so on point. Here is the rest of the post that put my head demons to rest. I loved this piece of advice so much because I was bitching, and up until I read this, I hadn’t yet considered the possibility that the run might actually go well. SPOILER ALERT: It did go really well! In retrospect, I wonder if it would have gone as well if I hadn’t allowed myself to consider this possibility. After all, marathoning is very much a mental sport, and Lina and I both had runs in the past two weeks in which we mentally defeated ourselves. (This post of hers goes into the details of said run.)
Anyways, my run today went like this:
Like I said, I forgot my Garmin but after reading that quote to ‘quit my bitching’, I had decided that I wasn’t going to let anything stupid ruin my run. So, with my route planned out, my water belt filled, my iPod charged, my BodyGlide administered and some lovely, early morning weather, I set out with the Map My Run app to keep my time/distance.
The first half of the run was pretty hilly, and, as an example of the validity of Angry Runner’s advice, they weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be! I just relaxed into them, and much like running pain, I tried to accept them rather than fight them. This is a hugely successful hill tactic that I’ve never before tapped into. Before I knew it, the first hilly half was done and I was looking at a mere 4.5 miles of trail to go.
Because I wasn’t wearing my Garmin, I didn’t really have any idea of my pace. I just went by feel, and checked my phone only twice before the 12 mile mark. I took a Gu at (what I’m guessing) were around the 5 and 10 mile points, and I decided along the way that I will, in the future, try and take Gus at 5 mile intervals. It seemed to work well because I refueled before I felt I needed to, so the extra calories and sugar kicked in when I actually needed them.
The Map My Run app didn’t give me single mile splits, but it did calculate my average pace over two mile intervals. Here are the details:
Miles 0-2: 9:09 min/mi
Miles 2-4: 8:45
Miles 4-6: 8:33
Miles 6-8: 8:29
Miles 8-10: 8:03
Miles 10-12: 8:15
Miles 12-14: 7:53
In miles 10-12, I was really struggling with my head. I remember thinking, “I’ve run enough today. In fact, I’ve run enough this week. I could be done now…”. The interesting thing about that is that the exact same thing happened to me yesterday on my 7 mile run, only during mile 6. I suspect that when I’ve completed the majority of the run but still have a few miles to go, I lose a little faith. Again, I need to work on this as it is directly related to generally improving my mental grit.
Even though my entire last post was about running lessons, I can’t help but note that today, I relearned the lesson that dreading runs is counterproductive and altogether silly. JUST DO THE RUN. Prepare as well as you can and get out of your head – especially if it’s being negative. It might just turn out better than you think.