February 14 2018
We delve into the many reasons why taking an off-season is pertinent to runner recovery.
I’m tired. Boston Marathon training has reached its peak and the taper has begun but my body is feeling exhausted from all of the miles and the mental part of training.
It’s Sunday morning, the day after eight more inches of snow. One more long wintry run—16 miles bring me steps closer to the starting line in Hopkinton on Patriots’ Day. My alarm goes off and I hit snooze several times not wanting to leave the warm hibernation in my bed. Finally, I pull myself out of bed. Layer up for another cold run. Shovel in some breakfast and feed my always-hungry children. They cling to my arms as I strap on my hydration pack and tell them I must head out the door. Finally blowing kisses as I head out the door, I feel the crunch of snow under my feet. I press start on my Garmin and begin to run.
I know from the start this will be a challenging run. I feel the 20 miles from last weekend’s Eastern States 20-Miler where my legs felt light and swift. My shoulders and back feel tight from swimming hard laps and laps with a pull-buoy. I am greeted with a small hill within two minutes of the run and I can already hear the negative voice in my head.
Not a great way to start a run. I try to quiet the voice, but it is sticking with me and the miles are feeling long. I know I have got to get this run done. 10 miles to be run at 9 min/mile pace with the last 10 at marathon pace 8:10-8:20 (or faster). I cringe at the thought of this, knowing that on my out-and-back run I will encounter rolling hills and the last long (almost a mile) training hill as I creep towards home. I know this run is important because it is on this run that more than the physical, I am training my mental toughness. I need to use this run to build strategies and find mantras and music in my head to fight the negativity that most certainly will visit me during 26.2 miles of running on Marathon Monday.
Let’s be real. Every time you go for a run it isn’t going to be the best run you have ever had. Sometimes your body and mind are fatigued from a challenging training load. It can be the everyday stress of life that gets in the way. Or maybe you didn’t get enough sleep—the list goes on. When you aren’t feeling like your best running self and almost every step feels hard, negativity can creep in and take over your run. If you allow the negative mindset to creep in it is very easy to let it win. This can happen on a training day and even worse on race day.
Don’t let the negative mindset win out! One big part of training for a race is developing your mental strength so that you can stay positive or so that you can talk yourself out of the negativity. As a part of your training you can gather tools to help yourself avoid negativity or to teach yourself to use a negative attitude to fight back when things aren’t going your way.
So how did my 16-miler end? I finished it. I fought for each step and battled the negative mindset as I ran. But in the end even though this wasn’t my fastest or best run, I call this run a win. I won out against my negativity. I didn’t quit but instead fought to keep my paces on track. I reminded myself of the strength within my body from all of the miles of training. I check this run off in the win category for mental toughness and will carry this with me to the Boston Marathon. This was probably one of the most important runs of my whole training cycle.
Find Sandra Laflamme online at Organic Runner Mom.