Sunday, January 17, 2010

Head games

head games

If you’re an athlete, then you know that training for your sport can be tough on the mind. Getting past the mental part of things is more than half the battle, and honestly, it’s why I love being a runner.

Saturday’s forecast called for a high of 56, so I knew a long run was going to be in order. Good thing Marley woke me up promptly at 6 a.m. begging for food. I got up and immediately started getting ready to run with my running group. Since they run at 8:15 during the winter months, it’s so hard for me to get up and get out of the house on a Saturday when it’s dark in the morning.

Head game #1.

I didn’t want to wear too much since I knew it was going to warm up, but when I got to the trail it was 30* and frosty. I grabbed Dennis’ man gloves and put on a head band and figured I’d be good to go. But man, I seriously couldn’t feel my feet for the first 3 miles. And I’ll be honest, I was struggling.

Head game #2.

I still haven’t been able to get my FR60 to coordinate with my footpad since I had to have it serviced, but since the trail is well mapped out by the mile, I just timed myself. When I got to the first mile marker my watch said 11:54. 11:54?? I don’t ever remember running a mile that slow! And I was struggling—my heart was pounding, my feet were numb, I could barely breathe, and I plain old hurt. But damn, 11:54?

Head game #3.

Ok, so the plan was to run 8 miles. Since I’m trying to get my mileage back up, worrying about pace shouldn’t be an issue here. I told myself that since it’s cold and it’s not a competition, just let my body warm up and concentrate on just enjoying the run. What’s the point of running if I’m going to stress out over every single run? Isn’t that why I started running in the first place all those years ago? For stress relief?

So I decided to just go with it and forget about time.

I know I’ve written about it before, but being too competitive is a problem that I struggle with on a daily basis. It’s good to be competitive with some things, but not most things. I’m competitive with myself at work—I try to do too much and then I get so overwhelmed that I feel like I’m letting myself down. I’m human! I make mistakes and I have to stop, slow down, and take it one step at at time.

And that’s what I did.

Let’s just put it this way. The first 4 miles took me 39:32. The last four took me 34:02. I cut 5:30 minutes off of my time during the last 4 miles. I paced 9:54 for the first 4 miles and 8:30 for the second. Talk about  a comeback!

My total time: 8 miles – 1:12:38. Not too bad for such a horrible start. Average pace: 9:03

I ended up feeling so good after I was done that I completely forgot how crappy I felt for the first 30 minutes of my run. Just goes to show how amazing our bodies are and how the mental game is just that: mental.

To be continued…


  1. Fantastic job Nicole!!! 8 miles . . . woot-woot! Just put my training calendar together and those long runs look pretty daunting. Head games indeed!