Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mental Reset

I'm at that point in my training where I am down on myself. I am sore, frustrated about being sore, anxious about getting my runs in while sore, questioning my goals, and over-analyzing the whole bundle.

My left shin has been sore since last week's (awesome) tempo run and it's totally got in my head.

I took Monday off, and it felt better. Tuesday I ran 12 miles and it felt good, but got pretty sore that night. Today it was sore in the morning, but felt better by the afternoon. Right now it's ok (well, this exact second it's submerged in ice water, so it feels numb). That's the exciting play-by-play of how I feel. I am on freaking orange alert all the time monitoring how it feels. It's exhausting!! And what's funny is that it's not a bad pain. When it feels "not bad" it's a 2 on a scale of 1-10. When it is "bad" it's maybe a 4. I've had "9" pain and this is nothing like that. Why can't I just relax?!

This is a familiar pain that occurs every single time I run high mileage in training for a marathon. The predictability and familiarity is part of what annoys me so much. Why can't I just train for a marathon and feel good the whole time? Wait, that is ridiculous isn't it. Of course I'm sore! If it wasn't my shin, it would be something else.

In addition, I'm constantly adjusting and re-adjusting my schedule for the week and worrying about every single mile in my program. In addition, my confidence is all over the place- mostly I feel good but sometimes I fill with doubt. I think it's the doubt from the rest of my life overflowing into my running. The whole job thing, what am I doing with my life, etc.. It's just a lot going on in my head.


I did a good thing and reached out to my friends today. Maritza and I have been partners in running and best friends for a few years now and I needed her pep talk. I also talked to Aron who has been a great friend and training partner, even though we haven't exactly met yet. Both of them told me exactly what I needed to hear and I am now officially shutting down the pity party and moving on! Here are some of their very kind and supportive words:

Maritza: "You know what you have to do - you are a marathon ass-kicker and now you just have to run smart. I have no doubt in my mind that you can do it, that you've GOT this. Your motto until taper? A great run is a HEALTHY run!!!"

Aron said a lot of the same stuff and also emphasized how CLOSE we are to this race. There's not that many hard runs left! Maritza had this great analogy about how if my marathon training is a mountain, I'm already over the peak. That made me feel good! I know I've put in a lot of work and don't need to stress so much about what is happening this and next week.

Finally, Maritza told me that since I'm such a goal-oriented person, I should "sit down, re-evaluate your goals based around getting to race day healthy, make some lists and focus."

Ok, can I just say I love these girls? That was all so good to hear. So, following Maritza's advice, I am making a mental adjustment and shifting my focus to staying strong and healthy and arriving at the starting line in 4 weeks ready to race. Here's a soul-soothing list of my ideas of how to achieve that:

1. Keep an eye on the shin and any other pains, but keep a cool head about it. If it hurts very bad, skip a run. If it's minor pain, just accept it and go about my business. I am going to be fine.

2. Reflect positively on all the hard work I've put in so far- awesome long runs, fast tempo runs, big overall mileage, a strong half-marathon time. I rock!

3. Look forward to the final few weeks of training and the race. It's going to be tough, but the taper will work it's magic and I will rock the marathon!

4. Be healthy: eat healthy foods and moderate portions, avoid excessive alcohol, drink lots of water and tea, take my vitamins, wash my hands and be careful to avoid germs.

5. Baby my legs: do longer warm up and cool down walks, stretch thoroughly after each run, ice after every run and whenever else I feel like it.

I know I'm going to be fine and I know this kind of anxiety is normal. Writing all of this out made me feel even better. :) It is nice to know there is this community of runners who all know how I feel and I really appreciate all your support. Thanks for letting me vent! :)

Oh, and here's a quick run report:

8.0 miles/1:09:18/8:40 average pace
I decided not to do the interval workout as written and do an easier version instead. 6 x .25 miles with .25 mile recoveries. I felt good but held back a little on all the repeats, which came in consistently around 1:49. It was a good run overall.


Ewen said...

With supportive friends like that, you'll be fine.

My only tip (from my own experience at avoiding/babying injuries) would be to find a forgiving and varied surface to run on - a dirt trail with a few ups and downs would be ideal. Stay off the hard stuff (bitumen/concrete). Walk any steep ups and downs. Don't worry too much about a slower pace - as long as you're putting in the time on the legs at the same sort of effort.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I love how your attitude got better as the post went on. You are an amazing runner and you are prepared for the marathon. I know it is hard, but don't let outside factors such as the (job) make you question your running ability, let the confidence you have running (you have run Boston!) carry over to the other areas in your life that need support.

Mir said...

Jen--great list. Just stay with those ideas you laid out and you will be fine. No stressing! :)

ShirleyPerly said...

I think that's a great list!

I also like the last line in d10's comment. Maybe volunteering and/or working a job in a completely different line of work, just to keep yourself from focusing too much on running and give yourself some more options, would help bring more balance and less stress in your life? As wonderful as it may seem to be able to train/race full-time, it has some major drawbacks, I think, unless you're a professional and doing so is helping pay bills.

ncrunner12 said...

Don't stress too much, looks like you've got things laid out well so keep up a possitive attitude and you'll be just fine.

You're an awesome runner, and I really enjoy reading about your training.

Judi said...

When the normal, non-training part of your life is bad, your mental focus is shot for training. Just try to stay calm, maybe try a Bikram Yoga class for your shin (the hot stretching is soooo nice) and just relax. You will rock that race, just like you do every race. You are such a strong runner Jen. Keep up the good work.

Paul said...

Are you gonna take some time off this winter??? Gotta take time to rest , recover and recharge!

*aron* said...

you are doing amazing jen and you are such an awesome and inspiring runner!! you are doing everything right (listening to your body, cutting back when you need to, etc) just continue to run hard and make it through the next few weeks of this crazy program and you will have an amazing race!

i am JUST like you that i have to have goals and when i don't meet them or see (feel) things in my way of meeting them i get really upset (remember me a couple weeks ago). i think the thing i have learned the most this time around with this schedule is you have to take it one day at a time and you have to try not to stress about getting every last mile in. make the runs good ones and if you have to skip a couple, skip them. in the long run a few miles isn't going to make or break you. focus on each run each day and dont get too caught up in the rest of the week.

your new goals are great and spot on... i might be borrowing them too for the next 4 weeks!! run hard girlie, we are almost there!!

Michele said...

Glad you got the support you needed from your friends. You are an awesome runner and I know you will do great.
I still remember when you were hurt before your first Boston. You made it through that and had a great race.
Keep up the good work and I look forward to readig another awesome marathon report.

Anonymous said...

Jen -
"You are a child of the Universe, no less than the moon and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should." Max Ehrmann

Keep to your schedule & relax. All things happen for a reason.

Dragonfly on the Water...

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Nothing wrong with a little venting. That's part of the reason running friends exist. You are right about every single thing in your list and you are going to rock that marathon.

Steve Stenzel said...

I hear ya about that stupid pain that comes back for every long-ish run. That sucks! Take it easy and don't over do it!!

P.O.M. said...

Woman, you are such an amazing athelete. Doubts are normal, as you know. Everyone has great advice here - just listen to your body. Sometimes a little rest is jsut what you need to recharge!

Zach said...

5. Baby my legs

Baby, your legs are awesome

Nitmos said...

You've been down the road you know how to deal with it. Still stinks but you already know you can overcome. Good luck!

Petraruns said...

What wonderful friends you have - and they are all right! So take your own advice and stop being so hard on yourself.. You're a phenomenal runner - I eat your dust! Keep it up and stay strong mentally and your body is already there. It needs rest more than training right now.

Marathon Maritza said...

I'll always be here when you need me! :)

Goals look great! You can DO it!!!