Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Running Brain

Running is extremely psychological. What’s going on in my head can make the difference between a good run and a bad run, a good race or a bad race. I’m not a psychologist, so don’t expect this post to be factual, this is purely my experiences in training and racing. 

While training for a marathon, I spend a lot of time by myself; sometimes on the treadmill, sometimes on the track sometimes on the road. So far in 2015, I have spent 86 hours running and it’s only mid-March. That is equivalent to 3 days and 14 hours. So, what do I think about while I’m running? Probably 10% of my time I have spent thinking about my big race. Boston. It will be my third marathon and I am putting quite a lot of pressure on myself. I am training to go sub 3:00. My training has been going extremely well, although I will not get a chance to race until that day (April 20th). 

It feels as though I am putting all of my eggs into one basket. My last race was the Manitoba Marathon last June. It took me a long time to recover after the last one, almost 2 whole months. After my last marathon I was physically, emotionally and psychologically beat up. I almost went into a depression after my last race. I spent so much time training up for it and by the time it came and went, I mourned my marathon after it was done. I’m not sure if I mourned it because I didn’t hit my goal of going sub 3:00, or because I went from spending 15+ hours running a week to 0, just gave it up cold turkey. It is a little bit scary going into another marathon now, knowing what is going to come afterwards.

I have been recently been getting super pumped for Boston. It is just 4 weeks away and I know my body is ready. Now I think that I need to get my mind ready for the race and after the race. My parents are flying out with me, which surprisingly makes my less nervous. It will be nice sharing a hotel with them, they will help me acclimatize to the city, probably help me get around and they will be cheering my name throughout the course.

I have spent approximately 20% of my time running with my favourite running buddies. I run 1-2 times a week with my friend Lacey or my other friend Mel. It makes such a difference running with people. They entertain me with their stories, they listen to me rant, they set a different pace than my same old boring pace I always do.

I have spent about 40% of my time thinking about whatever I am listening to/watching as I am running. Over the winter months I probably spent 50 of my 86 running hours on the treadmill, which can be excruciatingly boring. During these runs, I have listened to several podcasts, including Serial, Invisibilia, and Stuff You Should Know. These podcast help me learn new things as I am running. As I am running sometimes I listen to music. Usually it’s whatever band I am obsessed with at that time. Sometimes on the treadmill I will just watch whatever is on TV that evening, or turn on something on my phone or iPad. If I go Netflix, I watch this awesome show called Departures or watch a movie.

The last 30% of the time I am thinking about work/school/my personal life.

…to be continued

I started writing this post last week and it’s interesting how much my mindset has changed in a week. Last week I was stressed and tired.  I was probably still feeling my run from the week before, which was 24 miles. I was definitely over thinking my running and the race, considering it is still a month away. This week I was feeling way more back to normal. My workouts were fast and my runs went well. I think a big difference this week was that I wasn’t over thinking my runs. This week I had a stressful time at school and I think that caused me to think about school instead of thinking so much about running.  

I don't think I can talk about the psychology of running a marathon without talking about motivation. At the beginning of my training I struggled with motivation because I knew that there was so much time until my race. As soon as I sat down with my coach and came up with a 16 week training program, I instantly became motivated. Of course I have moments of thinking "Why am I doing this again?" That is when I go on my phone and look on my countdown app that is telling me that the marathon is only 28 days, 15 hours and 1 minute away.

Any sport psychologist will tell you that you need to visualize your race, and of course it is true. Last week I think I was obsessing over it, and it was stressing me out. This past week after stepping back a little bit, I am feeling a lot more comfortable about the race. It is now 4 weeks away, which means only 2 more weeks of serious training. I know my body is ready and my mind is still getting there. In the next two weeks I will continue to work on my race pacing and practice running long up and down hills.

Sorry for the deep blog post friends! Here's some fun for you!: 

Run Happy!

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