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Marathon Training : A strange case of lack of pre-race nerves

I’ve got a marathon in 11 days. I’m not feeling anxious, there’s no nerves. The days are counting down but there isn’t a noticeable building of anxiety, fretting or fear of what’s coming.

Maybe it will come next week? At the moment I feel a (strange to me) calm.

Maybe it’s just the eye of the storm? Maybe next week will be a hurricane of mixed emotions – nerves, elation, fear of failure, giddy anticipation of the starting line.

I’m hoping not. I mean, I don’t want to go into the marathon like an ice man, that would indicate hubris and unbridled arrogance (and that I’m a bit of a d*#% – no-one gets to be arrogant going into a marathon). But, at the same time being a bundle of nerves, self-doubting and anxious isn’t the way to run well either. Somewhere in the middle would be perfect. Read the rest of this entry

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Marathon Training : M minus 6 (and it’s holiday time!)

OK, I’ll try to keep this post about running, but the real reason I’m writing is to let you know that I’m going to be off the blog for a while as I’m going on holiday.

OK, you’ve seen through me. The real reason I’m writing is not to tell you I’m off the blog, it’s really to brag about going on holiday. San Sebastian, Rome and Positano over the next 8 days. I’m a lucky bugger aren’t I? And I intend to run in all of them. In fact, my running gear was the first thing to go in the case. Mainly because it’s the easiest stuff to pack!

san sebastian seaside from the hilltop

San Sebastian – Around the bay from hill top to hill top. Sounds easy, right?

Image credit

Now that I’ve got my horrid ‘yay for me’ bit out of the way, onto running…

After my bonked run on Saturday, I had a couple of rest days and went out on Tuesday for a threshold session. I’ll admit there was a little trepidation. Would my legs be sore? Would I still be fatigued? Well, it would appear that despite the bonked run, the TLT training I have been doing is working. I ran slowly for about 2km as a warm-up, then did a 5km threshold run doing two laps around my local park. I managed to knock about 20 seconds off my current 5km PR. Wait – disclosure follows –this is an ‘AG’  PR – i.e. After Garmin. I’m sure about 15 years ago I ran 5kms in about 21 minutes, so technically my 23.52 the other night is not a PR, but I have no proof other than my memory that I have ever done a 5km in 21 minutes. So I’m sticking with my new PR. At least I can prove that one!

Spanish Steps - Stairs workout anyone?

Spanish Steps – Stairs workout anyone?

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Wednesday’s run was a medium run, about 13.5km from work to home, taking in the scene of Saturday’s disaster run, RegentsPark and Regents canal. This time, no worries. Outside of the warm-up and cool down, the whole run was done at race pace without any dramas. Sometimes it is good to revisit the scene of a disaster run, if only to prove to yourself that the route isn’t ‘cursed’ and it truly was just a simple case of a bad run.

Yesterday’s run was an early morning affair, with a plan for about 6.5km. If you caught my post from yesterday, it was a cracker of a run. Early morning, foggy, very few others about. One of those uplifting runs which remind you why you run. I felt surprisingly good during the run as well, carrying very little fatigue from the night before. I also did something which I don’t get to do very often, especially in a marathon build-up. I ran without purpose. Some might refer to these runs as ‘utility runs’. Runs you have to do for mileage, but without a specific intent. Not threshold training, not intervals, not pacing. Just a run, run at a pace that you feel good at. Knowing I had no real ‘intent’ for this run, I took a cue from the sombre morning, turned off the beep on my garmin, set it going (I can’t ‘unplug’ myself that much!), changed the display to the time (no pace, no heart race, no distance), and set off into the cool morning fog. 42-or-so minutes of blissful running later I arrived back on my doorstep, feeling refreshed about running and ready to tackle the day.

Positano – Do they paint the houses the colour of Gelato, or is the Gelato coloured to match the houses?

Image credit

So, I’m away for a week or so. I’ll try to keep up the running, and maybe post the odd photo here and there. Like if I make it to the top of the hill in San Sebastian, or find the Spanish Steps in Rome un-crowded enough to actually run up them, or if I decide not to just eat more Gelato and instead go for a run in Positano…

Happy running everyone, and all the best for those racing this weekend!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon Training : One bad workout doesn’t mean a bad race!

Saturday was the third of my TLT long runs, and should have been a great run. The weather was perfect, the route also good, allowing me to run an errand (the assistant displayed a great sense of humour as I stood there in running gear, sweating like crazy), as well as taking in a route around Regents Park and the Regents Canal in London, all while allowing the ‘mechanics’ of a TLT run to be completed. Despite all this in my favour, the run sucked. Like ‘worst run I can remember’ sucked. Like one of those runs where the language to describe it is suitable only for blogs like AngryJogger

So what went wrong? I don’t really know. I just know that is was going well until around the 14km mark where I saw my pace dropping off and my fatigue rising quickly. The next 2kms were a real slog, as the fatigue and pain started to set in. At the 16km mark I resorted to that great trick – mind games – telling myself “it’s only 10km left, a doddle! Just keep running” and employing another trick I learnt from Hal Higdon – “if the pace hurts, change it”. Slower was worse, so I went faster, figuring at least I’d get home faster. This seemed to work. The pain and fatigue didn’t get worse and I was at least on pace, until I hit the 20km mark and the wheels really started to wobble….

wobbling-motorcycle

I stopped in a Tesco (another obliging assistant dealing with a sweaty man in running gear), got myself a drink, had a gel, gritted my teeth and ran on. Getting back up to pace just wasn’t happening so I contented myself with a bit of mental positivity – “you’re still running, and that’s enough”. The 22km mark came and it was time for a 2km threshold to finish the run. You guessed it! This is where the wheels fell of and the engine blew up as well! I got through about 600m, saw it was all falling apart and just forced myself to get to the 1km mark, where I just simply stopped running. My body had called it quits, spat the toys out of the pram and given me the finger. I felt like this…

Car-on-blocks-no-wheels

Walking was even a slog. It took me about 10 minutes of walking before I could face the Sainsbury’s near my house (the third obliging assistant dealing with a sweaty runner, this time a sweaty runner with a pale face and wearing a scowl) to pick up some bananas and a chocolate milk for some recovery.

What a bonk! A completely bonked run. Needless to say at the time I was shattered and pretty disappointed, however after some stretching (and some chocolate milk) I recalled a Running Competitor article about rebounding from a tough marathon workout and I decided to review my run to find the positive lessons and any areas where I could benefit from improvement. Here are the things I’ve learnt:

1)        Shit happens. A bad run will happen from time to time, often without any real reason; just sometimes a lot of inconsequential (and even unknown) factors line up to make a run go badly. Get over it!

2)        A bad run is NOT indicative of a bad race. It’s one run in dozens of runs that culminate in a race. Multiple bad runs are a sign which requires further investigation. One bad run is a statistical blip which should be reviewed, but not over analysed and NOT used as a predictor of failure.

3)        The feeling of pain, exhaustion and needing to find the willpower to continue reminded me what the closing stages of a marathon feel like. Maybe the run wasn’t particularly good for race preparation, but it was bloody useful mental preparation.

4)        Hal Higdon was right. Going faster can make you feel better, even if it is only temporary, and at least you’re getting to the finish line faster!

5)        I need to work on my fueling and hydration while running. I was more dehydrated than I expected after the run. Even though it was cool, the sun was up and I had obviously not been taking in enough fluid. I should have drunk to my thirst and got replacement fluid earlier.

6)        I probably need the cutback week that I have in my schedule this week more than I think. I will NOT be tempted to re-run the same work-out to try and do it better. I’ll just stick to my schedule and trust in the training. It was designed by someone who has completed a lot more races than me and has coached many more people to success.

So, where now from here? Onwards and upwards of course! It’s a new week, a new month, and the forecast looks like more running!

Positive running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Positive Running : for those thinking of starting their running journey today…

An inspirational image of a man running along the shore at dawn

It has to start somewhere

It has to start sometime

What better place than here

What better time than now

Zack de la Rocha

 

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

A heatwave in London : and another similarly improbable event

british-10k-finishers-medal

I can’t really explain it.

I didn’t plan for it, I didn’t train for it, I certainly didn’t expect it, but today I ran a PB in the British 10k London run.

I’ve been saying all week long that I wasn’t going to shoot for a PB and instead would just enjoy the race and the scenery instead. Maybe it was this mindset that helped me go faster. I had some nerves before the race, but less than normal.

Instead of worrying about things – the hot and humid day, the delay in the start, if I had fuelled enough, had I been standing in the sun too long – I just ’let go’ and went with the day.

When the countdown finished I shuffled forward with everyone else, crossed the start line, started my Garmin, and just ran.

At first, I was really worried I had gone out too hard, my first 2km were way too fast (like, faster than my 5k threshold pace) and I really thought I had guaranteed a blowout later in the race. I dialled it back to where I felt comfortable. I thought this pace was still fast, but I felt comfortable, so I went with it.

The scenery passed by – Trafalgar square, Nelson’s Column, the Thames, the London Eye, with a glimpse of St Paul’s Cathedral at the turn-around point located just before the 5k mark. All was going well and I felt strong as I headed back onto the Embankment for the return leg.

british-10k-the thames

It was at the 6k mark that ‘the plan’ went out the window. Maybe it was ‘race fever’? After passing the 6k mark I checked my splits, did some maths and realised that if I kept up the same pace I was a possibility for a PB. I came into the 7k mark on the same pace, and it was ‘so long’ to ‘relax and enjoy the scenery’ and instead it was ‘race on’…

2.5 hard kilometres later – over the Westminster bridge, past Westminster and Big Ben – and I was looking at my watch, focussing on the finish and striding hard for the line, managing to sneak in 26 seconds faster than my previous PB.

Running is funny like that sometimes. Sometimes a run can surprise you and give back to you things that are unexpected. It is one if the things I love about running.

A happy finisher

A happy finisher

In other news, I ran with some colleagues raising money for our work charity, Body & Soul. One of my colleagues ran her first 10k race today, and managed a great time for a first time racer, and another got a PB as well. I also had some friends from my football club running, and 3 were also able to achieve a PB as well! Seems it was the day for it after all!

Team LDS

Team LDS after a successful run for all!

Did anyone else race today? How were your races? Any more PBs out there?

Strong running everyone.

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

Positive Running : Goals are flexible

“Gulp!”

That was my reaction when I was greeted this morning by a calendar reminder “M minus 18 weeks” on my phone.

‘M’ is for ‘Marathon’…

I’m not feeling like my recent plantar fasciitis and reduced running has allowed me to develop a good base to embark on a marathon training schedule in just 2 weeks time. I experienced a short period of negative thoughts. Not exactly the way to wake up on a Sunday!

As I was mulling over the various possibilities and ways I could fail, I decided to instead look at the situation positively – “What can I do?”, “Where am I now with my running?”

I realised that with the time on the bike, football training and football games my cardio base is still pretty good. I’m just missing actual running time and a solid base of weekly mileage. It’s not like I’m trying to get from the couch to a marathon in 18 weeks!

As I said in a previous post about positive running – goals are flexible – so instead of fretting about it, I have instead reassessed my goal. Sure, I’ve had to accept that a PB on this next marathon is no longer the goal, but by ‘letting go’ I have been able to drop the anxiety and instead focus on what I can control – my own training and subsequent performance.

I spent this afternoon looking for a training schedule which suits my current running and fitness level, and have now settled on a training plan from Garmin. It is a ‘3×2’ plan (3 runs, 2 cross training per week) which suits my busy schedule, as well as adding in pilates/yoga for core strength and flexibility. I’m not likely to do be able to do pilates or yoga frequently, so instead I’ll swap in strength/stability training and specific stretching sessions instead.

Voila! I’m now feeling positive about the marathon again, and am pretty confident that I have found a training schedule which is realistic and can therefore follow without failure. Fingers crossed!

Happy Running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

Positive Running : Confidence and learning to ‘let go’

rosalynn-carter-running

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.

Rosalynn Carter

I’m sure the famous First Lady Mrs Carter was referring to something else entirely, but you can’t beat this quote when it comes to applying it to runners, be it beginners, racers or those ultra-runners out there!

For anyone, one of the most important aspects to achieving a positive relationship with your running is confidence. Confidence in yourself and your abilities.

But being confident is not easy and is often hard to attain, especially for beginners who haven’t gained confidence through their achievements.

However, I think that in running there is one, very easy way to build your confidence.

Just “let go!”

Stop caring about what everyone else is doing. Be confident in yourself on the basis of your training, be confident in the fact that you are not the best. Even on race day you are only racing yourself. Sure, the 3 people at the front are actually racing each other, but everyone else is like you – they are racing themselves, seeing how good they can be on the day.

How far or fast you run has nothing to do with how fast or far others run. If you can ‘let go’ then you can shed the mental weight of competing with others and begin to build confidence around your own running and your own achievements. With that confidence comes the ability to be tougher, to push yourself and to reach new heights and levels of enjoyment of your running!

So next time you are out running, don’t worry about the people you see jogging along looking effortless while in full flight, or streaming past you with apparent ease. Those people are just like you, they are out there racing themselves. 

Have the confidence not to be the best, and you will suddenly find that you are the best.

Positive Running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

Related articles:

The Confidence to Not be the Best (Mind Margins)

Positive Running : Finding the balance between your physical and mental strength (getgoing-getrunning.com)

Positive Running : Finding the balance between your physical and mental strength

An inspirational image of a man running along the shore at dawn

Image credit

I recently read a really good post by Running Rachel about her foray into Crossfit, within which Rachel discussed some of the issues that come with trying something new and going out of her comfort zone. In her article Rachel refers to her “love/hate relationship” with Crossfit and how even though she loves the challenge, she hates how Crossfit causes her to have feelings of being “weak, inexperienced and often inferior”. However, don’t think this was an article filled with negativity about her performance. On the contrary, Rachel knows these are ‘novice thoughts’ brought about by her lack of experience and being out of her comfort zone.

This got me thinking about running and how beginners often struggle to enjoy running. Being a beginner runner can often leave you suffering both physical pain and willpower sapping negative thoughts. So how do so many people overcome these issues and learn to love running?

Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I believe one of the key things that a lot of beginner runners struggle with is achieving a good balance between their physical ability and their mental attitude. Beginner runners often struggle to achieve this balance because taking up running pushes you outside your comfort zone, both physically and mentally, usually in ways people haven’t experienced before.

Before we move on – going beyond your comfort zone is a good thing! Pushing yourself like this exposes you to new challenges and new achievements.

However, if you push too far you run the risk of falling short of your expectations and engendering negative thoughts about your running. Like most things in life, the key is finding and maintaining a balance, in this case between your mental and physical strength. By being able to find a balance between your physical ability and your mental attitude, you begin to be able to ‘critique’ your performance, instead of being ‘critical’. A critique of your performance is objective and allows you locate areas where you can improve, and areas where you are already strong. Being critical involves ‘subjective’ criticism of where you weren’t ‘good enough’ or ‘tough enough’. These negative thoughts eat at your confidence and your willpower and cause anxiety about your running. It is these sorts of thoughts that can prevent people from developing a positive relationship with their running. Why would you keep going or keep trying to improve if you are always met with self-criticism and anxiety?

So, how can you try and achieve a balance between your physical and mental strength?

Read the rest of this entry

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