Monday, November 28, 2016

Race Week - Reinforcing the Mind

In April,  when I was pondering a return to 26.2, I decided I needed a new focus.  Having completed 25 marathons previously, I've tried many training plans, various mileage goals, boot camps, etc.   I've primarily focused on the physical side of conquering the distance, with limited mental training.  It's interesting that prior to my PR marathon at Top of Utah, 2012, I focused on the physical and the mental.
Top of Utah, Logan was my 24th attempt at the marathon,  so I decided to search google for a book to read up on the mental side of training.  This is still my PR race, so YES, I think the mental training helps.  This is an EXCELLENT book, and it's one that I will be reviewing this week as I prepare for the mental side of racing at St. Jude, Memphis.

In May,  as I pondered my return to 26.2 after 3 years away from the distance, I had no plans to return to my previous mileage (avg. 45 miles per wk, with a peak of 80 miles before Boston 2013).  Nope!  While I loved every minute of it back then, my current thoughts are lower mileage for a number of reasons.  1.  I don't believe high mileage is a healthy thing to do to the body.  2.  At this time, and in May when I decided to run a marathon, I've had zero desire to run high mileage.  With this being the case, I decided I wanted to run limited mileage, run my long runs, and focus more on the mental side of the situation.  This has been refreshing and fun to focus on a new challenge.   This is something that I now believe was a limiting factor when I was racing for PRs.   Even though, I ran, and achieved PRs for around 10+ years, I now know without a doubt, I could have achieved more had I focused on the mental side of training during those years.   

As I began to focus on my return, I started my search for a new book on mental training.  This is the best one I found this summer/fall.   It's great ! 
Many aspects of these 2 books spoke to me.  The Runner's Brain helped me focus on eliminating any negative things that play in my mind.  It talks about the importance of visualization, deleting and replacing any negative thoughts that come up.   I started reading this book in April.  At this point, my long run was 8 miles, and I was running that distance every other week.  As I read, and ran, I begin my mental training practice on the runs, and even some meditation from time to time.   I, 100% believe in meditation, but to be honest, I have yet to achieve a consistent "stillness" that is needed.  I have been able to do some active meditation,  with meditation while running.  I totally accept where I am now and I realize learning to meditate is a journey, similar to the journey of running your first marathon.  It's a process......

As I ran my 8 mile runs with the weather warming up in April and May, I immediately started using affirmations or mantras while running.   During my longer runs, something would pop into my head from my reading, or sometimes something totally new.  Each time this happened, I just kept repeating the words in my head.  If I had a negative thought, I would start saying something positive,  and I would continue repeating it.  Sometimes it worked out great to repeat the words or phrase to the beat of the song that played on my Ipod.  Other times, I would change the words of the song to a running related inspiring chant.   I can not effectively express how much I have grown to believe in this process.  For all of my hard workouts, and all of my long runs up to 20 miles, my focus to FINISH STRONG was achieved.   My goal has been to either maintain my pace, or increase my pace at the end of all of my quality workouts (typically, 2 runs per week).  For the majority of the quality runs, I not only maintained, but I increased the pace at the end.  It works !

For most of these inspiring moments of thought, I would go home and write them down.  I decided in April to write them down and my thought all along was it will be great to review these moments of inspiration.   I decided this week was a great week to blog about it as a way to review these moments. My hope is to reinforce the moments in my mind for Sat.   It's also really cool,  as I read these notes, it takes me vividly back to each of these runs.  It's like a time stamp of the run and the day.

My first notes are on April 19th of 2016.  One this note, I wrote down a 3 year goal.  I will not disclose the goal at this time, but it's something I would like to achieve during the Big 50 birthday year.

My Brainwashing Notes from 2016
These are my run notes (chants, mantras, etc) from my journey back to 26.2, starting on April 24, 2016:
April 24 -
"This is the path to strength, fitness, and fun".  
"A new journey, a new path"

May 2 -
Consistency leads to strength, strength leads to ________ (my 3 year goal)

Sidenote -  from May 10th - I wrote down my weight and measurements.  Weight loss has not been my goal or focus, but I have dropped about 8 lbs. which does indeed help my running.

June 22-
"Lastest, fastest" - last mile or miles should be my fastest .  (Lastest fastest was just a short easy way to repeat to the music of the day)

July 2
"Strength and Ease"
July - "Iron Strength"

August 5
"EFS - Easy, Fun, Strong

August 9
"with God, I finish Strong !" (calling in some extra help with the hot summer miles)
August 11
14 humid miles - "Steady, Strong, Easy, Enjoy the Moment, Fun"
On this run, 3 dogs came after me, but something super cool happened.  One of the 3 dogs was a German Shepard - as they approached me, the German Shepard became my protector.  He kept blocking a Pit Bull from approaching me.  In fact, the GS was so insistent in protecting me that he fought the PB to protect me.   This actually happened 2 times this summer with 2 different sets of dogs.  I'm definitely feeling like a lucky and blessed gal......

August 13
"God's Strength, God's Focus, God's power.....I'm not done yet" (as in I'm not "washed-up" yet- lol)
Song of the day - Don't Stop Dancing - Creed 
Lyrics that spoke to me - "Children don't stop dancing, believe you can fly"

August 21
"Strong Finish, Finish Strong!"
August 23
at Mile 24, I AM STRONG
at Mile 25, I AM STRONG
(this was a 6 mile run with 3 X 1 mile repeats, but I started working on my brainwashing to have a strong finish at 26.2 miles)

August 26
"God take the wheel." 
"God's Strength"
(16 mile run, half on hills, HOT)

August 27
"The Blessing is outside your comfort zone.  Embrace the uncomfortable."
"Perceptions either create us or destroy us."

September 3
brainwashing continues on this 8 mile run
"at 20 I run my best"
"24-26, I run with ease"
"24-26.2, I run with God's strength" 
(notes after the run - One of the hottest, one of the best....)

September 7
(mile) "18 starts "the easy 8" 

September 24
"Today, I practice strong and steady until the end."
"18-26 - I'm trained, mentally & physically to finish strong."
"18-26 - Strong Finish"
"18-26 - "God granted strength & power"

September 29
** - first cool front - happy me!
Song of the Day - inspiration BIG
"That Power" - Will I Am
"I am strong on hills"
"no fear, no doubt, strong until the end" 

October 4
3X2 mile 
"find it, feel it , focus, calm (find it, feel it - refers to finding my planned pace, and feeling it)

October 6
"I am strong"

October 25
20 mile run
"calm, cool, collected" - (to the beat of the song)
"magnet to Meraux" - (practicing visualization - I was running several small cities,  and my final destination was Meraux.  I was visualizing a magnet pulling me to Meraux.)
"float to the finish"
"finish fast"
"God's Strength"
I practiced the following, on the later miles of this 20 miler, but changed it to be the final miles of 26:
"mile 20 is easier than 19"
"mile 21 is easier than 20"
"mile 22 is easier than 21"
"mile 23 is easier than 22"
"mile 24 is easier than 23"
"mile 25 is easier than 24"

October 27
"last 6, fastest 6"

October 29
9 X800
"I will never slow down the last 3 reps"  (I was running 800s, but this represents, I will NOT slow down the last 3 miles of 26.2)

Nov. 4th
22 miles
"God is with me, I am strong"

Note to Self !



1 comment:

lindsay said...

There is definitely some power behind positive thinking. I hope these mantras came to mind when you needed them most in the race! Also, I laughed when you started referring to it as "brainwashing" instead.