Health & Fitness.

Mind Over Matter

Not that I really need that light on these shoes... So, I’m training for a half-marathon. Did you know that? My local friends and family on Facebook don’t. Because I never talk about it on Facebook at all. NEVER.

So…a half-marathon. That’s 13.1 miles. I’ve trained on my own in years past using online programs, and never stuck with it very well, hence poor performance come race day. Therefore, when we had to fill out our “goal” in this running group, mine was just, “Run the entire race without walking.” No need for a lofty goal or anything, I had done THREE of these before and never once run then entire 13 miles. I figured that alone would be sufficient.

Well, we’ve hit the 13.1 distance TWICE so far in our training and I ran it all the way both times. So, um, GOAL REACHED! Ta da! I can go home now!

Now, I find myself doing something I’ve never done before: THINKING ABOUT MY SPEED. Last night, one of the girls in our group summed it up in a nutshell in a passing comment, “It’s all mental now.”

That is a sentiment several people have mentioned in this training program. How much of this training stuff is a MENTAL challenge compared to a PHYSICAL challenge. I’m amazed every time it hits me how VERY MUCH the balance is mostly mental for me. Like, now that I’m near the end? I’d even say 80% mental.

My body is ready. It wasn’t even that difficult to get my body ready. I followed the program given to me. That easy. The hard part was each step along the way, feeling like there is no way in hell I can do this. Several times along the way I’ve almost skipped a long run just to avoid proving I was incapable of it. I got myself out the door with varying degrees of success along the way. EVERY TIME I thought about not doing it because of self-doubt and EVERY TIME I did it.

So now we’re getting down to speed. I’ve never thought about speed before because I just wanted to SURVIVE. Now? I’ve proven I can survive.

2 weeks ago, Donnie ran my 10 miles with me. I had already done 14, so I was relaxed about the 10. Donnie ended up pushing me faster than I would have run alone and we did 10 miles in 93 minutes. That’s a 9.3 minute per mile pace. That is FASTER than the pace I ran my 5K pace last year. A WHOLE LOT FASTER.

When I got ready for my 5K this weekend, I thought I’d set my pace for 9.3 minutes per mile, but Donnie convinced to aim for 9-minute miles. I ended up doing it in 8.5-minute miles. And then, last night? I had to do a 4-mile tempo run with my group. Because I don’t have a watch that tells me my pace, I had to do find someone to run with. After the first half-mile I realized I needed to catch up with the group in front of me because I was too far from the group behind me. I let the FAST GROUP pace me last night. They are the FASTEST in the group. The ones the first few weeks that just bolted ahead of me. This time? I ran with them. We ran four miles in THIRTY-THREE MINUTES. And that’s when one of the girls said to me, “It’s all mental for you now.”

Now…those four miles nearly killed me. It took everything I had to stick with them, but I did it. I DID IT.

So now we come to the point: I have NO IDEA how to pace myself for the actual race. Pace calculators tell me I should be able to do it in under 2 hours. THAT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE. The four miles last night near killed me, but that was at about an 8.25 pace. My half would be at a 9.3 pace or so. That’s a chunk slower, but is it slow enough that I could hold it for 2 hours? I HAVE NO IDEA. It’s all mental, how do you push yourself mentally? How do you find you’re limits?

No clue. I have a few long runs to figure it out. I also have the luxury of already reaching my goal so everything from here is cake. One things if for certain: I am blown away by how easy it was to do the physical part of the training, after pushing past the the mental barriers at least. Getting myself out the door was the hardest part of each of those milestones. Now, I just have to stop slowing myself down and we’ll be golden.

10 thoughts on “Mind Over Matter”

  1. Honestly, I think you can do it. And if you can’t? You’ve still made massive progress and should be ridiculously proud. You are so my running inspiration, just so you know. I’ll be spending the morning going through your archives to see how slow you started out and, as such, decide how much I suck by comparison. 🙂

  2. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read a post like this! I’m trainging for the Disney Marathon in January and I really need to work on my speed. I just ran the Baltimore half marathon last weekend and my time was really terrible. I know I can run faster, but I’m really having a hard time getting over the mental part of it.

  3. I’ve seen your tweets about this too. I am firmly in the camp of just don’t walk EVER. You are really making me want to try speed work. Yuck 🙁

  4. RE: Techcrunch’s thing about Google Reader … I would never have known except I follow your shared on google reader. Awesomecakes.

    The mental part of running. I need to change what I’m doing because I used to run for myself and now that just isn’t working anymore. I am going to do the tough mudder in Feb in GA (you’ve got the legs and the bootcamp body and loved Warrior …. give it some thought) but I don’t have the legs ready for it.

  5. You are SUPERWOMAN!

    Question: Are you training with a pay training group with coaches and everything? I’ve always wanted to sign up for one of those but they seem kind of expensive on top of the race entry fees.

  6. Courtney, This is a training group through our Fleet Feet. I’ve never done one before but Donnie has done their Tri Classes 2 summers in a row and loved them so I tried it. It was $130 bucks but it covers the cost of the race AND they’ve given us some gear too. We got cool t-shirts, a bag, a flashing light, another bonus shirt and a water bottle so far! There are real coaches too which makes it VERY worth it, in my opinion, because they seem to know me better than I know me. 🙂

  7. I’ve never run a marathon, but I’ve walked one and had the same kind of experience. The training part was relatively easy; just follow the schedule. But the mental part — not so much getting out there and doing it, but choosing to keep going and not wuss out — nags at you. Same thing when I’m swimming laps… I set out to do a certain distance and then it seems like my brain keeps saying “You can stop here, you don’t have to keep going.”

    I’ll tell you what, though… once you’ve walked a marathon, a half is a “piece of cake!”

  8. peskyblackfly – Before I was a Tortoise, and a Tedd, or a Tomato, I was somebody's Pesky Black Fly. I'm still Pesky you better believe it!!
    Tamara says:

    You are totally in my head with your running blogs! I find myself nodding a lot ‘you got that right!’ I trained for a 1/2, on my own, while most of my running crowd was working on speeding up their 10K. When I felt like I couldn’t do it, or didn’t want to- I told myself ‘you DO want this, and you CAN’ So much of running, and any other challenge, is getting over the mental part. The body takes care of itself.

    Go Kim!

  9. I love reading your running blogs. You’re such an inspiration. If I can ever run as fast as you, I’ll be so happy.

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