>> Saturday, September 18, 2010
I had been mentioning a little to Coach Jen about how I feel like I can’t run long AND hard at the same time. (By the way, I’m going to TRY to refrain from “that’s what she said” jokes in this post, but it will be hard. Oooh, like right there....) She knew I was working up some questions and issues. When I told her I nearly had my ideas worked out into words, she told me this:
NO worries, just tell me you are mental.
So here’s what I sent her. Tell me if any of this sounds like you too:
Help me with my head
So I've been mentioning my "deal" over the last few days. I have issues going LONG and HARD (that's what she said - sorry) on runs.
You've seen my KILLER interval times. Last week you asked me to do 4x1600 at 5:45, 5:40, 5:30-35, and then "all out." I did 5:44, 5:41, 5:30 and 5:15. That I can do. When I know I have a little break coming (like when running intervals), I can GO.
The problem is when I try to run a longer, harder run. I have a hard time convincing myself that I can maintain a solid pace. My sweet interval times are always faster (proportionally so) than what I can do on my tempo or long runs.
A year ago, when I was "over-training" for my first 10 mile race by running every run too hard (something that Julia and you helped me see), I would focus on keeping a solid pace around half way into the run. Then I would just keep building. I've learned my body does NOT like to slow down - it feels like failure. So if I can keep a solid pace through the middle, I'll just keep building through the finish.
I found it weird that 1.5 miles into my "4 hard miles" during my run yesterday, I felt like death and couldn't catch my breath. But after another mile, I was running FASTER (the fastest mile of my 4), and I actually felt BETTER! (And don't EVEN tell me that I need to run everything at 5:45 pace and then I'll feel A-OK and be able to run forever.) Maybe it was just because I was that much closer to being done so it just FELT easier? Dunno.
And now, training with you as my coach, I'm not doing any long, steady, fast runs, so I'm feeling a bit scared at how I'll do in the TC 10 Mile coming up in over 2 weeks. What pace can I run and HOLD for 10 miles?
I GUESS I DON'T HAVE A QUESTION, I JUST HAVE A REQUEST: fix me.
Is there something I can be thinking about / concentrating on / doing differently as I hit my last long hard run before the 10 Mile? And / Or is there something I can be working on after the 10 mile so that I'm fixed by next spring?
Or am I just mental.
Here’s what I mean: After I logged my interval workout mentioned above, I got Jen’s most enthusiastic response ever. It contained the biggest, bluest letters ever:
Here are some other numbers to back up my points. Below are 3 screenshots from the McMillan Running Calculator. They show my estimated times based on my back-to-back-to-back races this past spring: a 5K, a 4 mile, and a half marathon:
Estimates based on my 17:11 5K
Estimates based on my 22:42 4 mile
Estimates based on my 1:22:52 half marathon
On the flip-side, my half marathon time says that I should do a 5K in 17:56, but that’s WAY SLOWER than I just did.
I can go shorter and harder, but when I go longer, I end up easing back a little. (And I know, the McMillan Running Calculator is NOT an exact science. I HAVE heard things about needing to run a ton of miles to be able to hit your predicted McMillan times.)
Anyway, here’s what Coach Jen wrote back:
Well, first of all, you are mental, that is already a fact. :)
You know...this is a normal feeling - and if you were the other way (could run fast forever but couldn't nail your track times) we would be having the other conversation.
YOU have gone long and fast...you have run nearly 11 miles with fast miles at the end....just this past weekend...
THEN this Saturday you have a 80 minute run with last 5 miles or so at race pace...so that is what you need. YOU need to FIRST OF ALL stop putting up a mental block and saying you cannot do this....if your head does not think you can do this, then your body will take the easy way out - trust me! that is everyone's problems. THEY do not believe they can.
IF I asked you to LIST 10 reasons why you will PR @ the 10 miler right now - you could rattle them off quickly to me - you need to believe that....YOU have nailed every single one of your workouts - you have stayed healthy- you are running more than ever before....not much more you can really do.
YOU have that 80 min run this weekend and that is KEY. YOU need to learn how to pace yourself.....at a slower pace (this is where the HR monitor helps someone) and then after 5 miles this saturday taking it up a notch and getting into that sub 6 min pace or 10" either way. On tired legs, on tired lungs and pushing thru.
THIS is not easy for anyone - even the PROS - they all have just learned a little better how to suffer and know that they will not die - sure, they may throw up, but not keel over.
FOR YOU - you said you have never felt like puking on your runs....your harder ones...that is interesting to me- so that tells me there is MUCH more in the tank....I mean, really! THIS is something you should feel after your hard runs...we are not training for an aerobic day like the Ironman - we are training to work at or above your lactate threshold for 59 minutes...and that is NOT a happy place. It will NOT feel good. If you think for one second that this will be easy...it will not be easy. BUT you are and will be prepared..but you need to focus on this mentally. Getting ready to race is not only physical but mental...so sitting in a dark, quiet room (I am serious) and focusing /visualizing your race...feeling good and then having some pain (from working hard) and how you will get thru that and what will be your words to yourself to get thru this threshold mentally....and eat the pain...and have the confidence that this will be your PR day.
So I would say it is a mental block really - you start to get uncomfortable and you ease off for fear you will hurt or possibly vomit. And, you know what? I love to race racers like that - we can smell the weakness and that is when we go harder. YOU need to think like that - NOT like "Oh this hurts!" Well, shit, of course it hurts....ON my 20 miler this past weekend I was throwing up in my mouth and trying to figure out how to manage that while suffering like a pig. YOU got this Steve....
This Saturday's run will be perfect for this. And, it your job @ 100% mental effort to nail this run.
I responded to her:
Some people have questioned me about my "never have to barf" issues. I run out of air before I have to puke. I just cannot breathe, and THAT is my limit. Barfing must lie someplace after breathing, but hopefully before death....
Jen replied one last time:
The key is shifting your breathing pattern. So when things are easy you are breathing 2 and 2, which means every 2nd stride of the leg you breathe in and out. WHEN YOU ARE suffering you breathe 1 and 1...every 1 stride you breathe - rough!
Do you have "issues" like me? Do you have any ways that you work through your pain while running long and hard? I'd love to hear what you do or what works for you.
And I'll post tomorrow with how my last long, hard run goes today. I'm headed out the door right now....