Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The thing about self-doubt

We have all been there. 80 per cent of the way through a training cycle you begin to think “maybe my goal was too lofty”, “there is no way I can crack that time”, “what if I don’t finish”.  I call this the “I can’t” phase. Not every runner experiences it to the same degree. My husband, for example, never doubts.  Maybe this is because he puts more work in than me and trusts the algorithm of training completely.  Maybe he has not felt the crushing pain at km 18 or 39 that screams you should just quit.
Recently a running friend who is closing in on her first full marathon asked me if the long runs ever get easier.  My short answer was no, but I thought about it after and realized what she was really experiencing was the tiny seeds of self-doubt trying to plan themselves.  “It is too hard”, “I can’t do it”…“what was I thinking”.  This discussion came as follow up to one a few days earlier when she asked me if I ever felt like I just “could not get through a workout”.  For the record, if anyone ever tells you they have not experienced this they are not being truthful.

Why does this happen so often throughout the training cycle and what can a runner do to combat these negative feelings?
I think the first thing is realizing it is normal to feel this way. You are getting closer and closer to a big goal. Big goals are scary, even terrifying at times.  You are also tired.  Training volume is near its peak and your body and mind are exhausted. This is all part of the plan and the glorious taper week(s) that will be coming your way.

As someone who doesn’t have a particularly strong mental game leading up to a race, here are some things that work for me:

·         Resist the urge to run more than your training plan calls for.  Runners tend to take a more is better approach. We are horrible at listening to our bodies and will push through a workout rather than take a much needed rest day, shorten a run or pull back on pace.

·         Find a running mantra. Some of my favorites are “it’s not supposed to be easy” and “you are stronger than you think”.

·         Believe in the process.  If you put in the work, you have to trust that on race day you will tap into that next level.

·         Prioritize self-care (aka take a break). There comes a time when a break will be much better for you than feeling you did not hit a workout. It is ok to rest, regroup and come back and crush a workout.  The training benefit is also better.  I’m not saying miss a week or two, but try to listen to the signals your body (and mind) are sending your way.

Do you experience a lot of doubt leading up to a race? Do you have a go to mantra while training or racing?

Monday, 7 March 2016

Check in

The most exciting event to hit our household in a while took place this Saturday: our new treadmill was delivered!

It is no secret that I have had a hard time scheduling workouts since Weston arrived.  Sure, one parent can easily go out for a run/workout but there are a number of things that need to sync in order for that to happen. 

If J runs home I have time to run after, but after not seeing Weston all day I try my best to maximize the two or three hours I have with him a day.  This means we eat dinner and do bedtime routing first, and a run can happen by 8pm (if not later).  Because it is dark out and I would be running solo, the best option is to head indoors to a treadmill.

Days J doesn't run home, he also does intervals later which means more time juggling. I would typically go first to be home for him to head out. The downside of this is cutting workouts short or not hitting my paces in order to get home on time.

And then there is a timing/nutrition issue.  If I have intervals to do, I can't eat a full dinner at 6:30. Weston ends up having less family sit-down meals which I am just not comfortable with. I could run in the morning, but I also flex my schedule so I start at 7:30 and have to be out the door by 7am.  Again, because it would be dark out, sub zero and lonely running I would opt for indoors. I typically see Weston for 20 minutes before work and I don't want to miss that time either.

In talking with other runners, I really think the challenges we experience are related to having two runners in our household. I wouldn't say I compromise my training more, but I am more likely to miss a workout than J. I am a bit more flexible because I don't train as hard. The impact on my running is noticeable. As mentioned before, I am following the RLFR program so that I only run 3x a week. The workouts are intense! Lately, I haven't found time for an 8k tempo so I shorten them (and shortchange my training).

After a lot of deliberation and even a placed and cancelled order I finally decided enough was enough. We need a treadmill!

I went with a NordicTrack sale at Sears. It's a mid-range model that will be used mostly by yours truly.  Yesterday I logged my first 40 minutes during nap time while J did a Costco run. It was so freeing to be able to pop downstairs and pump out some miles while Weston napped. 

For our family at this moment, it seemed like the best solution. I just wish I had made the decision two years ago!

How do you juggle training sessions with family life??