June 11, 2012

What's in YOUR head?

This weekend, I got to spend some quality time with my favorite sports psychologist, Adrienne. Not only is Adrienne one of my very best friends, but she has a way of helping with my mental game without me even realizing it! It's odd that I've been a runner for 19 (!!!) years, yet I still learn new things about myself, and there's always ways to improve. Over the years, I've grown tremendously with my own mental struggles, but I still do a few mental issues that I'll take a few moments to discuss.

Since college, I've had a serious, serious issue with the track. Doing a track workout was this hideous, repulsive thing that I likely dreaded more than a bad dentist visit. It did something unexplainable to my head. It put me a very unhappy mental place. For the many years I was self-coached, I would procrastinate these workouts until the very last moment, and then I would have to bribe or bargain with myself once I was out there. It was utterly and completely miserable. I soon gave up on the track for um... a few YEARS. Yeah, like I didn't do a single workout on the track. When I moved, I learned that "the group" did occasional track workouts, and maybe, just maybe I should give it a try again. Well, it worked slightly. I went from HATING the track to just disliking it. I suppose misery loves company. It didn't hurt that TP (aka my boyfriend) loved running on the track. And being that I'm slower than him, I was able to watch his cute little butt for the majority of my workouts. Fast forward to recent days with Coach. Right out of the box, I was assigned some 400s. I *could* do these on the road, but really the rubber track is more accurate and easier to run on. The only problem is that now it's "too hot" for all my running friends to do track work. So, I've been getting out there once a week for a month now. And something strange has happened... I won't say I *like* it, because I surely don't, but I don't dread it. Why, you ask? For one, Coach gave me the very best piece of advice I could ever hear, and he likely doesn't even remember it. It's something that solidifies the exact reason I hired a coach. He said, "You just run; I'll worry about the paces." Meaning, if I fly through the workout, or bomb miserably, it will be HIS job to figure it out. Therefore, nearly all pressure is off me. I truly love that. I think it's paying off, too. I had one of the toughest short-interval workouts I've done since college, and I hit some times on the watch that nearly made my eyes bulge (sick fast for me).

Moving on to other matters- easy and long runs. Increasing mileage safely is something that takes years. I always get nervous when I read or hear about runners that go from say 40 mpw to 80 mpw in less than a year. Many people have asked me the "secret" to running high mileage while staying injury free. Some runners might say nutrition, and others might say ice baths, stretching, blah, blah, blah. While those things are important, I think the biggest lesson is how SLOW you go. First of all, my mileage increase was very, very slow. Each year maxing out at 10-15 miles than the year before. I also mean keeping the easy runs easy. Going out an hammering every run will get you on the injured list faster than anything. With that being said, I've struggled with this lately. I love my group runs. It seems lately that the pace has been too HARD, and I don't like that feeling. The angel side of my brain tells me that my legs are fatigued from the new stimulus of leg drills and hard workouts. My brain also tells me that I am running more miles than everyone else in the group. The devil side of my brain says, "You slowpoke! You will never run Sub 3 with this JOGGING!" Thank goodness for my Sam that will run as slow as I like and back off the pace when she knows I need it.

There isn't much other news, just training and coaching. We started Cross Country this week with my high schoolers, and I am completely in love with them. I should have time later this week to blog about this new adventure. It's definitely one worth writing about.

Run Happy, friends!


  1. I loved getting inside your head! Very interesting that you don't like the track- I would have never guessed it. Your coach sounds like a wonderful match who knows where to take the lead. It must be NICE to just let go and let him guide you.
    I'm looking forward to seeing some of the races that come out of your track work. Yay for a new chapter!

  2. Gee, thanks for the props! You know more than you think and it's been fun watching as you transform from a strong runner to a STRONG one!

    What you write is a good lesson to all of us-go with what you (and your coach) know, even if it means taking it easy and being secure in what you are doing.

    That's what's in my head:)

  3. Geez, I loved reading your comment about building mileage slowly - over years. It seriously gave me hope that I might get to where I want to be yet. :)


  4. Haha, I had no idea you hated the track. How is that possible when you're so fast?

    Sounds like the Coach is working well for you. When is your next goal race?

  5. Interesting post. I didn't know you felt that way about the track. I LOVE the track! It's a great way to workout in a group, but everyone can go at their own pace. High mileage is a skill. You've honed it through hard work and dedication, and it's good to caution others that it can't happen overnight!

  6. I've maybe stepped on a track two or three times since I started running five years ago. Mainly because my running partner isn't allowed on the track. Partially because I just don't think I'd like it. Maybe someday. :)

  7. I love this post! I find that I need the easy days -mentally and physically to just "jog" and take it easy and recharge. I love the track but stress myself out about hitting paces sometimes. I love the idea to "just run". :) Thanks for sharing!