Runners are such complicated beasts. We are all different, with many (often conflicting) priorities, motivations and goals. One of the challenges of coaching (and in my professional life, mentoring or managing) is figuring out how different people respond to problems or challenges, and utilizing that to help them succeed. Some need carrots, others a big stick, and some a bit of both.
But the most difficult task is often trying to figure out what motivates yourself, and how to harness that and turn it to your advantage.
And I am probably more frustratingly complicated than your average runner. I don't necessarily run for the love of it - if I had to quit running tomorrow, I wouldn't be heartbroken. Sometimes it can be hard, and sometimes I really don't like it very much (like yesterday). But at the same time it can also be euphorically uplifting and inspiring. I've had runs which have been ethereal, attaining almost spiritual levels of detachment. I've been privileged to run into many blood red sunrises and sunsets of breathtaking beauty, enjoyed runs lit by huge hunter's moons, and been lucky to have shared many of those runs with some great friends.
So yeah, on second thoughts I would be heartbroken if I had to give that up.
But how do I harness that? Once you strip away all my complex layers, you're left with one prime motivational factor that I can use, and it is this: I need and thrive on a challenge.
That's what it's always come down to for me - the exploration of the unknown, the mystery of how far I could push myself in search of a goal. That is why I started running marathons. That is why I started running ultras, and why I completed two 100 milers.
It is also the reason my motivation to run ultras vanished once that goal was met and the mystery was gone. I had proven it to myself. Case closed. Time to move on.
So to practicalities - sometimes it's good to have a bad race, because it pushes you to prove something to yourself all over. That's where I am right now - pretty damn mad with myself, and glad I have another marathon in 4 weeks time to redeem myself.
Yes, it's irrational - I still think I made the right choice yesterday. It was certainly not a PR day, and I had nothing to prove by enduring a sufferfest. And 1:46 is a respectable enough half marathon time. But sometimes irrationality is good. It makes me want to do something about it, and it usurps my natural laziness.
I've been pondering on this all day, and I have come up with three basic areas on which I need to focus.
1. Leg strength. This is something I definitely need to work on. My legs are lacking in mileage and endurance. They got fatigued far too easily on Sunday, even allowing for the conditions. Last year I did a lot of cross training using aerobic weights and cycling, and I need to start doing that again. It makes all the difference to my running. It also builds confidence, which I thrive on as a runner. I also need to be more consistent about my midweek runs. Last year, much of my success at White Rock was based on 2 back-to-back midweek runs done at (what turned out to be) marathon goal pace (7:20/mile) - 10 miles on Tuesday, then 8 miles on Wednesday, pushing it on tired legs.
2. Nutrition. I had thought that one of the benefits of working at home would be that I would be able to devote more time to meal preparation, but it's often had the opposite effect. I have tended to just work through my lunch, or just grab something easy (and not that good for me). I need to pay more attention to how I'm fueling the tank. To run at my best, I need to drop at least 5lbs, and put back some of the muscle I'd built up last year. Better nutrition will help me get there.
3. Accountability. Challenge provides motivation, which in turn provides the discipline needed to train consistently, which provides the performance increase which feeds that motivation. And so the monster grows. Last year, I added accountability in the form of an online training journal in this blog. Maybe I need to start that up again (see below).
I think if I can harness each of these three points, I have a great opportunity to run a great race in College Station. Here's a jumpstart on that training journal.
It's week 1 of 4 for the BCS marathon.
Sunday November 13th
7:30am - ran the San Antonio half marathon in 1:46
pm - 30 minutes of yoga after the boys were asleep
Monday November 14th
7am - 4 hilly miles around my neighborhood (31:47 - 7:57 pace). Warm and humid, legs felt stiff and sore - did the first mile in 7:20, and got slower the further I went. Thinking it's time I started pushing some of these runs on tired legs.
Lunchtime - 15 minute abs workout
pm - 30 minute Bob workout 1. Circuits. OMG, I haven't done this in months - can't believe how out of shape I am. Sweated (and whined) like a dog, and you can bet I'm going to be sore tomorrow. Feel pretty awesome and pumped right now though!!!
Tuesday November 15th
5am - 7 miles (58:41 - 8:23 pace). 73F and humid. Are we in November or August? I was looking forward to running in some cleansing rain this morning, instead I got warm and humid. Legs tired, unable to maintain the pace below 8 minute miles. Got some work to do, and looking forward to the cooler weather tomorrow.
Lunchtime - 30 minutes of circuits. Worked up a good sweat
pm - 20 minutes of spinning on the trainer after the boys went to bed
Wednesday November 16th
5:30am - 7 miles (57:05 - 8:10 pace). 59F. OMG, I am so sore. My abs are sore, my quads are screaming, my hamstrings are tight, and I could barely get my legs out of bed this morning. That means that all those weights and core workouts I've been doing are having an effect. The effect this morning was that this was a really painful run. Thank you to James for taking it easy on me :-)
Midday - 20 minute strength workout. Just to ensure I am completely unable to walk tomorrow.
Thursday November 17th
4:30am - 6.6 miles (56:55 - 8:36 pace). 55F and windy. Met Clea for our usual easy-paced Thursday morning run. Leg soreness a bit better today, nice run.
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