Mentally preparing for marathon training

How much of running is mental vs. physical? I don’t think my body was made to be a runner and it does not come easy. And sometimes, I fool myself into thinking I just can’t run farther or faster or longer. As much as I love to run, it’s not always easy to get out the door and go. But once I do, usually close to a mile in, I am glad I did it. And during my run, there are times I can psych myself out into thinking I need to walk, I can’t possibly run anymore. This is when I usually push myself further just to prove I’m full of it. It usually works. So for me, running is definitely more of a mental challenge.

When I trained for the Women’s Half Marathon last year, it was the first time I stuck to a true training plan. In fact, it’s the one and only time in all 10 of my half marathons that I followed a true plan and didn’t just run to get miles in. It worked well and I ended up PR’ing and beating my goal that I set.

In deciding on a training plan for the Space Coast Marathon, I asked my friend Beth to help me decide between two Hal Higdon plans and we decided on this plan.

I have new shoes, two pairs actually to get me through training and the race itself. I need to invest in a couple new pairs of shorts and sports bras to train in. I will continue with my GU Gels on my longer runs which I have always had good luck with.

As for hydration, I am really just a water drinker. I am not a fan of sports drinks, although I have been known to chug a cup of it during a race. The longer miles may require electrolytes.

Training actually starts the end of this month, on July 28th. Currently, I am getting my Sunday long(ish) runs up to where I need to be for the 8-mile long run start of the plan.

If I think about the training too much, it is very overwhelming. The thought of a 20-mile training run is mind boggling to me and if I’m being 100% honest, I question my ability to do it. Bottom line is, marathon training scares the heck out of me.

 

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But, I can’t think like that. I have to focus on one week at a time. By the time I get to that 20-mile long run, I’ll have already done 17, 18, and 19.  Between the 19 and 20 miler, I’ll cut back to 12 which will probably seem like nothing.

I think about running my first marathon a lot. There are days that I picture myself crossing that finish line. There are also days that I wonder if I’ll really be able to do it. I am sure these are all natural thoughts. And it is this constant thinking about it that made me decide to do a full marathon in the first place. Two and a half years ago I was contemplating my first half marathon and I’ve now completed ten. It’s definitely time. My desire to do it outweighs the fear of doing it.

 

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These are my thoughts as the official start of training quickly approaches:

  • I have a great support system in place. I have a husband who goes out with me, dark and early, so I’m not running by myself. When the miles get to be too long for him to run, he’ll ride his bike with me.
  • My family is supportive – and proud of me. That is a great motivator.
  • I am fortunate to have many running friends who can offer encouragement and advice to me along the way. If it were not for the friendships I’ve made and inspiration I’ve received from them these last two years, I’d likely would not be racing like I have been.
  • Forget the time. This will be hard because in my last four half marathons, I’ve really tried to push myself on my time. Now is not the time (no pun intended) to set time goals. It’s as hot as the face of the sun outside and I am just running slower and that’s okay. Marathon training is about endurance and going the distance. I also have no specific goals for finishing, other than I will finish. Besides, my first full marathon automatically makes it a PR, right?
  • There will be good runs and bad runs. I can’t let the bad runs set the tone of my training.
  • Enjoy the training. This is a big deal for me and a huge undertaking of miles and training to run those 26.2 miles on race day. I’m doing it to prove to myself that I can indeed do it. What I once swore I would never do, I am now determined to do.

 

 

This is what motivates me and what I will think of as I am putting my heart and soul into training. I will keep imagining that day where I can finally say “I did it”.

 

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What is your biggest obstacle when training for a race? Is it more mental or physical for you?

I want…

I usually try to keep things very upbeat on my blog, but today I am just going to spit all this out for fear that if I don’t, it will explode. That just wouldn’t be pretty, would it? Here goes…

 

I want… To not be stressed. I stress about everything. It can’t be good for me, right?

I want… To be able to take a real vacation with hubby. Just the two of us. For more than one day. (note to self: buy winning lottery ticket tonight)

I want… For it to be fall. Seriously, I’m done with this awful heat and humidity.

I want… To enjoy the beaches that we live so close too. Other than my Sunday morning run over the causeway bridge, the closest I’ve gotten to the beach was a survey I did for work the other day . It looked so awesome. I want to feel the sand between my toes. How sad is it that we live 7 minutes from the beach and never go?

I want… To live in a drama-free world. Drama is not  necessary and doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

I want… To not have to work quite so hard, maybe just for a little bit. It’s not in my genes to NOT work, but it sure would be nice to just sit back and not worry about how everything will get done for a bit.

I want… To sleep a full 8 hours. Please, Blue and Ozzie, can you maybe just let that happen every once in awhile? Mommy loves you, but she needs her sleep.

I want… To find the off-switch for my brain. It does not need to always be on, especially at night.

I want… To not worry. I worry about everything. Somehow things still work out, but the energy I exert worrying is exhausting.

I want… To feel like all the hard work we are doing will pay off one day. And I’m talking work, not weight loss. We bust our butts at work, please tell me one day we will reap the rewards of it.

I want… To wake up in the morning without anxiety. I had anxiety a several years ago and finally got it under control. I feel like it’s slowly creeping back in… I know stress brings it on, so I need to control that stress to get rid of the anxiety. The thought of anxiety makes me more anxious.
That’s better… Seriously, I’m not sure why everything has to seem so hard sometimes. This is why I so strongly focus on myself when I’m not working. I NEED to run, otherwise it’s likely I would need an anti-depressant. I NEED to take care of myself. I NEED to do things that I enjoy on my off-time. I NEED to not be negative because that won’t get me anywhere.

 

always remember

 

Thank you for listening to my rambling… What would you like to get off your chest today? I am all ears since you listened to me!

What is YOUR stress relief?

We all deal with stress. Every day, we all have different stressors that affect us in multiple ways. And each and every one of us deal with our stress in a different way. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have stress. But we all do, and we have to find a way to deal with it.

When I get stressed, the first thing I want to do is eat. Plain and simple. For most of 2012, I ate my way through stress. Did it help? There’s an immediate sense of feeling better, honestly, but eating didn’t help what was causing my stress.

Since I started 2013 by going back to Weight Watchers and making the decision to take better care of myself, I’ve found different ways of dealing with stress, most of the time… And while none of these actually get rid of the stress, it’s a good feeling to know that I am not sabotaging my body by eating my way to oblivion.

So, what do I do to relieve stress?

 

  • Hot yoga – I really cannot say enough about hot yoga. I wish I could go more. I love to sweat it all out, the stretching, and the amazing feeling when it’s done. And I sleep amazing afterwards. I wish I had tried it sooner.

 

  • Run / Walk – really this should say “just move it”. Exercise really does wonders for stress. It makes me forget about what I’m stressing over, or at least realize that’s it’s likely I am stressing over something TOO much. I tend to worry to the extreme and working out calms that.

 

  • Do things for ME – this can be anything. Shopping, reading, lunch out, anything that gets my mind off what I’m stressing over. Sometimes laying around being lazy is not good for stress and worry because it gives me more time to think about what is bothering me.

 

  • Set goals – I love to have something to work towards. A goal weight, a race to look forward to, a new time to beat, something that pushes me and gives my brain something to focus on.

 

  • Focus on the good, not the bad – this can be hard. Quite often, the bad can totally overshadow the good and it’s easy to forget so many other things that you can smile about.

 

  • BE POSITIVE – I truly cannot stand negativity and I believe that if you think negatively, than that is exactly what you get. It can’t hurt to be positive and think good thoughts. Try it sometime…

 

All of these things are good for your mental health, for your happiness.

My dad used to drive me NUTS when something went wrong or we needed to resolve a problem and he would say, “it’s no big deal”. I didn’t understand how he could just brush it off like that and know that it would be okay, that it would all work out.

I’m not sure when I realized that positivity would get me much farther than negativity, but it’s definitely been in the last couple of years. Somehow, someway, things will always work out. My mantra throughout the last few years has been…

 

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There have been nights when I wake up with anxiety over whatever is bothering me and I will literally repeat this to myself over and over again in my head. Be positive!

So, no matter what obstacles, challenges, troubles, and more you are up against, remember that it will pass. And there are things you can do to combat that stress. Don’t let it take over your body. Get out there and move, do something you enjoy, and focus on the good!

 

How do you deal with stress in your life? Do you have a personal mantra you’d like to share?

Holy Half-Marathon!

Two weeks from tomorrow, on Sunday November 18, I will be doing my second half-marathon – the Women’s Half Marathon in St. Petersburg. Yesterday morning, as I was running 3.11 miles at the park, I realized that I am so not prepared. Dealing with my sciatica right when I was supposed to start training for the half was not the plan. However, I did run most of the 5K yesterday and that was a first since my injury.

On one hand, I am so happy to be where I am now, considering 11 weeks ago I could hardly even walk, let alone think about running. And while I have not been consistent with any sort of training, I am able to move without pain.

On the other hand, I think I am INSANE for even attempting a half-marathon right now. How am I going to complete it? Am I going to hurt myself? Will I get so caught up in the moment and the adrenaline that I push myself harder than I should? What if I can’t finish in the 4-hour time limit? These are all the things running through my mind right now.

If I use the nifty calculator on McMillan Running, it tells me based on my 5K time from yesterday morning of 45:25, that I should be able to complete a half-marathon in 3:30:17. When I ran the Rock N’ Roll Half, I did it in 3:11:33. My goal in signing up for a second half-marathon was to beat my first time. Now my goal is to just finish.

Thursday night I got my confirmation email. That’s exciting. The minute I crossed the finish line at the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in February, I wanted to do another. Was it easy? NO. Did I enjoy every single hard minute of it? YES. I want to enjoy this again:

 

RnR Half 1     RnR Half 2

 

I can’t wait to go to the expo. I can’t wait to pick up my bib, my timing tag, and my t-shirt. There is such a rush in that.

Did I mention the medal? I want that medal. I want to add it to the other two I have, and add my bib to the box of race memorabilia I have for the year.

 

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(Source: http://womenshalf.competitor.com/stpetersburg)

 

And then there’s the course…. It’s in downtown St. Pete just like the Rock N’ Roll Half (except the start and finish are together and the course is the opposite). That course was beautiful. I love downtown St. Petersburg. The views along the water are amazing.

 

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(Source: http://womenshalf.competitor.com/stpetersburg)

 

So, yes. I might be insane. I know I’m nervous and scared and excited all at the same time. But damn, I want to do it. I hope, hope, hope I can get to the finish line before the 4-hour mark. Finishing is my goal. Anything better than that will be icing on the cake.

 

Have you ever run a race totally unprepared?

A Letter To Myself

Dear me,

You are a wonderful person and you are stronger than you know. You take care of those you love and you do the best that you can in everything you do.

So then, why do you doubt yourself? Why do you feel like you can always do more or do better? Why do you feel so fragile? You cannot let fear and your insecurities get the best of you. You must not focus on the negatives, but rather direct that energy to all the positives in your life. Letting the negatives get the best of you only sends your fragile state of mind reeling. 

You know how good you feel when you do something for yourself, when you put yourself first. You seem to fall into the trap of not taking care of yourself when you are stressed out. There will always be something stressful going on, you have to decide how best to manage that stress and not let it get the best of you.

Yesterday, you made the decision to go for a walk and that walk turned into running. You ran when you felt like it and walked when you needed to. After not running for far too many weeks, you did pretty good despite the heat. You should not be so hard on yourself and just enjoy the moment.

Do you remember how you felt when you ran your first half-marathon? You felt like you could do anything – and you can. You have the ability to accomplish anything you set your mind to. It’s the reason you signed up for another half-marathon, to feel that enormous sense of accomplishment in completing something you never thought you would do.

If you are not happy about how you feel or how you look, YOU are the only one who can do something about it, YOU are the only one who can make the right choices and change. You’ve done it before, you can do it again.

Life is too short to be stressed out about things. You cannot control everything and there is no sense in worrying about the things that you know are out of your control. Focus on YOURSELF and the rest will fall into place.

Love,

Yourself