Saturday, September 28, 2013

Even Though It's Not My First Rodeo...

...there are always things that I need to be reminded about.

Remember when I said I don't dwell on runs/races the way I used to? Just because I don't the way I used to, doesn't mean I don't.

This week I've given some thought to my 20-miler, and while I'm happy with how I did, I'm still thinking of ways to do better on October 13th. Then as if by magic, I got an e-mail in my inbox from the Chicago Area Runners Association. Typically they send a couple of e-mails out each week to let us know what we have going in the days to come.

Near the bottom of one of the e-mails was this little nugget:

"Get your mental game plan ready to go. Racing an endurance event is more mental than physical. You've done the training and tapered well, so the physical part is all taken care of. Make sure you're mentally ready for race day"

Message received. Then it was hammered into my head during my 8-miler Thursday night. One of the great things about running is that it is very therapeutic, it's a great way to relieve stress, to clear your head of thoughts or to get said thoughts organized. The only problem is that the priority should always be the run, when the time comes to get locked in and run, you have to press the pause button put those thoughts in a compartment for a while.

So Sunday I was kicking a couple of things around my head and just never set them aside when I needed to, and I didn't help myself by thinking backwards a little bit, because when you do that more self-doubt begins to creep in.

Like when I hit five miles to go I looked at my watch and said "one more hour of running". Probably not the best thing to say when you have been on the road for three hours so far! Then the thoughts started creeping into my head "an hour...that's a long time", "this (or that) is feeling sore...are you sure you can make it?".

It's such a tough process sometimes. I remember when I was attempting to break four hours at the 2005 Chicago Marathon, and how one quick thought "a tweak outside me knee" just broke down the wall of concentration and confidence I had spent the first three hours building.  

That's the toughest part of this sport, staying mentally tough. The hard part is that it comes and goes. For as flighty as I felt on Sunday, I was the exact opposite on Thursday night. I went out to Waubonsie Lake -- a nice lake area with a path around it -- and felt like I could run all day.

I ended up running 8-ish miles, and it was awesome. I say 8-ish because at one time there was a sign that said the loop i like to take is either 2.6, 2.7 or 2.8 miles around. So I went between 7.8 and 8.4 miles, give or take. 

It's a beautiful area, it was nice and cool and there were a lot of people out on the path. I even got a chance to see a really nice sunset, which doesn't happen often. But the best part was that I was locked in from pretty much the first step of the run until the last.

It was pretty sweet. Sure I had some things that I was thinking about, but they came and went through my mind, and often I found myself just rolling on cruise control. No thoughts, just me and my music. That doesn't happen often in my day-to-day life -- several years ago I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), although I knew I'd had it long before that -- which means stuff swims through my head at all hours of the day or night, so much so that I only sleep about six hours a night.

When I get the chance to completely clear my head of everything, like I had during that run, I am happy...and thankful. It's fun to have a run like that. I'd also like to get that feeling in a couple of weeks, too.

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