|Forgot to post this picture of Seneca Rocks from my 4th of July in West Virgina|
Saturday I planned to do two miles at my goal 5K race pace. My goal is to run a sub-30 5K, which I have yet to do (the closest I’ve come is 30:06), so goal pace is 9:30-9:38. I have been reading Mind Gym, and one of the suggested mental exercises I’ve been doing is to visualize what I did in a race where I felt I performed very well. The exercise is to go through the entire race–parking, walking to the start, warming up, running the whole race–and visualize everything you can remember. I’ve been doing that for what I believe has been my best race recently and came up with a list of things I did that contributed to a good effort:
- Starting slow (as a result of crowds and then a big hill)
- Focusing on my form, especially in the last mile when I was fatigued and breathing like I was going to keel over
- Repeating the mantra, “You can do this. I am doing this.”
- Digging deep, not quitting, and pushing hard at the very end
Then you visualize doing those same things in your next race. My 5K race is this Saturday, so this past Saturday was my last chance to practice these things–especially the last one–while at 5K pace. When the run gets tough, it is very easy for my mind to quit on me, to tell me I can’t do it and give up. Here’s how I did.
- Starting slow. I am finding my Garmin nearly useless for pacing because it fluctuates about 30 seconds as I try to speed up and then slow down. I think I started out a little too fast and was dying by the end of the first mile. As much as I say I can’t run based on feel, I think I need to start relying on feel more than the Garmin since I’ve learned that 5K pace is slightly less than an all-out effort.
- Focusing on my form. Success! I did this well when I got really tired, and, as always, it made the run slightly easier.
- Repeating a mantra. Had lots of internal discussion with myself, but no mantra. Need to work on this.
- Digging deep and not quitting. Huge success! I had switched my Garmin setting to “average pace” and saw it slow to being out of my goal 5K pace. I got a slight stitch in my side. My tummy felt a little upset. A runner behind me was running so close that her jingling keys irritated me. At each of these points, I desperately wanted to quit. I wanted to stop and let the runner go past me. I wanted to slow to a jog until my side stitch went away. While I did allow myself to slow slightly, which made my side stitch go away, I did not give up and forced myself to finish the two miles.
After the run, I saw that my average pace was ten seconds slower than I wanted it to be, and a wave of negativity washed over me: “You’re too slow. You’re not good enough. You will never make your time goal.”
But I immediately put a stop to it. I went out on a hot morning and busted by butt in giving it my best effort. I fell short of my goal pace, but it’s not because I didn’t try. I achieved a mental victory by pushing on when I wanted to quit, and I need to celebrate that.
By the time I had walked back to my house, I felt good about my run and good about myself. While I’m working to improve, I need to remember to celebrate my victories, however small, instead of being so critical of my performance. I won’t let that critical and judgmental voice beat me up!