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