In this section each week, I will provide updates on my training for the Boston Marathon qualifying race. If you are looking for tips on heart-rate zones or the physiology of running, you may want to look elsewhere. If you want some content on chafing prevention and pre-race Pop Tarts, you’ve found your place!
The mind is a powerful thing.
While training for a marathon, you have a lot of time to think out on the trail (or pavement). This week, I got to thinking about how the mind adapts to different training runs. Frankly, it’s pretty damn cool.
For instance, on Wednesday, during my six-mile tempo run, I was counting down the steps through the last mile to reach the end, as if I could not run any further. Yet, on Saturday, during my 18-mile long run through the hills, I passed the six-mile mark (and even the 12-mile mark) with relative ease.
Those last couple miles? Not nearly as easy.
I realized when I first started running that the mind is a powerful tool to reach your goals. Just setting a goal of running for X miles or X time creates the game plan for the brain that helps structure positive and negative thoughts.
If I step out the door and decide to just “go run,” I’ll get about a mile out before I start thinking about how much running sucks and how quickly I can get to a cheeseburger. But if there is a goal in mind, whether it be one mile or 26.2, those negative thoughts get pushed toward the last 10-20% of the run.
The final trick is how to eliminate those last “why the hell am I doing this” notions that enter the mind.
The top ultra-runners in the world often describe 100-mile races as lasting only 15 minutes in their head as they were so zoned in to what is happening in the present, instead of dwelling on how many miles they had to go or how much their body hurt. For most people (including me up to three years ago), a 15-minute run often feels like it lasts 100 miles.
The mental side is a major part of my training for the next 5 weeks prior to the Grandfather Mountain Marathon. How do I train my mind to focus on the present and ignore the pain? How can I push myself to run faster farther when the runs get tougher?
Maybe I should just place cheeseburgers at the finish line?
Training Recap (5/22-5/28)
# of Runs – 4
Total Miles – 38
Long Run – 18 miles
Strength Workouts – 2