Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drug Free Running

Today was my last double-digit mileage run before the Fargo Marathon. I was a little nervous about it because last week I had a mini-anxiety attack prior to and during my 20 mile run and it didn't go so well. I had pretty much decided that the panicky feeling was due to drinking some caffeine before my run, but I still had some lingering doubts. I tend to be the anxious type, so maybe I was truly having some mental problems. It wouldn't surprise me at all if I had just psyched myself out.

Since last week's run, I've been trying to stay away from caffeine. I've also been thinking about a book I read and wrote about here on my blog, Mind Gym written by Gary Mack. Gary is a sports psychologist and gives a lot of helpful advice. He talks extensively about self talk and how it effects performance. Gary says that research shows that if a batter tells himself, "Don't miss the ball," that his brain just registers "miss the ball" and he is statistically more likely to miss. If he tells himself something positive, like "swing strong," he is much more likely to get a hit. I've been thinking about my self talk and how I may be sabotaging myself.

One of my goals this training season has been to have more fun and not be so results oriented since, quite frankly, my results are kind of crappy anyway. As a result, I find myself thinking things like, "It's okay if you walk" and "Just try to make the distance." By lowering expectations, I figure that I'm removing any performance pressure and will hopefully feel less stressed. Of course, I also say things to myself like, "I think my heart is going to explode," and "This sucks." I'm guessing that this is also not helpful.

This morning I stayed away from the caffeine and the carbonated drinks and went to my favorite summertime trail, Baker Park. I had 12 miles to run and Baker is a 6.2 mile loop which was perfect. I dropped a cooler around mile 3 and put one at the start. It was a beautiful day even though it was windy. Since Fargo is likely to be windy, I figured it would be good practice.

Even before I started, I felt better than last week. I felt calmer and more focused. I tried to think to myself positive thoughts, like "feeling strong" and "enjoy the day." I actually did feel more relaxed and was able to get in a groove within the first few miles. I always think that after running 20 miles, that a shorter distance like 12 miles will seem short and easy, but it never does to me. I envy people that can crank out that kind of mileage easily. It was still hard for me, but I never felt panicked and overwhelmed. My heart rate stayed at a reasonable level and my legs felt strong the whole run.

Today's lesson for me: no caffeine, lots of positive self talk. Pretty soon I'll be the running version of Stuart Smalley... I'm good strong enough, I'm smart fast enough, and doggone it, people like me!

9 comments:

Nat said...

I love Stuart Smalley! Great post, you will be just fine at Fargo!

Mark said...

I'm glad your 12 miler went well, even after twenty twelve is still a long ways. I definately have some self talk when I race, relax..stay strong, you've got the training...
Fargo looks like a great race. You have the training under your belt!

Melanie said...

Awesome post! I'm a culprit for negative self talk too, and was far too focused on results too...which weren't good. I also decided just to have fun, and simply appreciate the fact that i'm healthy enough to be out there being active! You'll do great!

Londell said...

After finishing over 50 marathons... or near that, I have learned the mind is more of a reason people do not finish than the body. It plays tricks on the long rune. Stay clear and confident, I am sure you will do OK. And Al Frankin maybe should have used his alter ego for the election, we may have saved a whole bunch of time and money?

Jean said...

You are going to do great, Beth! You have put in your miles and have been dedicated in your training. I read some other people's blogs where they don't put in the time and effort and simply hope they can do it. But you are prepared.

Continued success to you!

Nitmos said...

Staurt Smalley! Ha! Whatever happened to that guy?

Velma said...

Nitmos - he is now a senator. He.

I am the queen of self talk -I even talk out loud sometimes in races. Who cares if people think I am crazy!!

Helen said...

You have done all the hard work and will be just fine for Fargo. It's amazing how we can talk ourselves down even when doing something unthinkable for 90% of the population! Baker Park is a lovely place to run. Very tranquil - as close to trail running as you can get on a paved path!

Dori said...

It's natural to feel nervous before a marathon, but trust your training. I try to avoid any negative thoughts during a race, even if it's directed toward the race director or fellow runners. You'll do great!