Sunday, September 9, 2012
Mental Toughness and the Long Run
There's nothing else you can do that proves how much you want it. Nothing that shows how interested you are in getting a good time in a marathon that's still 12 weeks away. Nothing that shows how bad you want to get into the Boston Marathon.
Yes, I'm talking about the weekly long training run. Two or three hours out on the roads and trails, usually just me and the iPod, trying to put away 12, 15, even 20 miles.
It's amazing how many different ways you can think "I'd rather be doing anything else but running" over the period of two long hours.
So today I needed to churn out 14 miles. I mean, the mileage itself isn't really the issue. I know I can run 14 miles anytime, anywhere.
But then why is it still so hard to actually do it?
Let's check out the old pace chart from the run and see what it tells us:
I need to hit 7:50 pace in the CIM in December to qualify for Boston, so that means I should be doing most of my long runs in the neighborhood of 8:35 to 9:20. You can see from the map above, if you know Corvallis at all, that I pretty much steered clear of the hillier parts of town. It was basically a flat run, so I don't have that as an excuse.
I start out fine, maybe even a touch fast, but that's to be expected early, when the legs still feel good. I get into a bit of a rut in mile seven and eight, but that's not too strange for me either - that's about the halfway point. I always drop off a bit around there, until I can start to smell the barn, then I usually can pick it up. Which I do in miles 9-11, keeping the pace under 9:00.
But then I started to feel 45 years old. I started to wonder if I really wanted to do this for the next 12 weeks. I mean, really? And once you start asking those kinds of questions, you're in trouble.
So Mile 12 was 9:18, at the very top end of my needed training pace. I completely fell off the cliff on Mile 13 with a 9:49. Not that it was a surprise - I didn't want to be out there any longer. I was done.
No, the surprise was Mile 14. I was actually able to make a deal with myself. One last mile hard. Show yourself you want it. Show yourself you can do it.
I even found a mantra for Mile 14, "Lock it in," I told myself over and over.
And what do you know? It worked. I hit 8:24 for the last mile - mile 14 on the day. That was as fast as any mile for the run.
Did I feel good? Strong? Powerful and fast?
But I did it. And in the end, no matter what you have to say to yourself to get there, if you can say "I did it," than you had a good run.
Twelve weeks to go.