>Running 101>Beating my own mind
an amazing likeness
...At some point everyone is new to the sport and struggles to finish or feels as if they won't reach a certain goal. What I would love to hear about is how other runners got to where they are today...
I'd suggest you browse through the postings here on RunningAHEAD, especially in the Look What I Can Do. There are hundreds, or even thousands, of these stories in the forums here.
I'd guess that most of us mere mortals, at some point, struggle with doubts of being able to reach running goals. When the veterans and accomplished tell us to "Trust your training...". they're telling us two things: (1) if you trained for it, it can be done, and (2) your training will tell you whether a goal is within reach.
I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)
I am a fairly new runner and I have read a lot of things about how these talented runners finished so fast in marathons, and how how this guy ran a one hundred mile race and so on.... but I rarely read anything about their journey there. At some point everyone is new to the sport and struggles to finish or feels as if they won't reach a certain goal. What I would love to hear about is how other runners got to where they are today... As of right now will be running my first 10k with a friend in about 2 weeks I've been trying to follow a training plan but I've been struggling to reach the longer distances nearing the end of the schedule a lot of it I know is in my head and just something that I will overcome but it's not like I haven't had proper time to prepare. Kind of discouraging. Just wondering if anyone else who is now a more experienced runner has been in this situation. I'd love to hear how you have grown and showed your mind and body who's boss.
I have been doing this so long that I really can't remember how it was when I started. So, I'm probably not the right person to respond to this (but that's never stopped me before!)
I feel like I can comment because what you write about here is something that I still struggle with in running. We battle with ourselves, our minds and bodies, hoping to get that goal. Sometimes it stays out of reach longer than we want, and we reach the point of frustration and want to give up. That's pretty much running in a nutshell.
So, I get that frustration. The frustration leads us to wanting to "force it" -- as you put it, show "the mind and body who's boss." But the problem with this way of thinking is that actually the mind and the body are the boss. There is no other boss to invoke. Your mind is frustrated, and your body is tired.
How to react to this? You've got to fix those problems. You've got to get your mind un-frustrated and your body un-tired. That doesn't mean take time off, or quit working or giving up. Quite the contrary. It just means you've got to work in a different way, one that takes the longer view. Your immediate goals are to get your body fresh and your mind fresh so that you can continue the longer project toward your bigger goals.
The hardest thing to learn as a runner is how to respond to your body, but if you can learn it, you will be in this sport for the long haul.
The Logic of Long Distance
just a simple cat
"....but I've been struggling to reach the longer distances nearing the end of the schedule ..."
Those new longer-than-you-are-used-to runs, are a lot easier if you slow them down.
Running is stupid
I've been through this myself. I ran in high school through my 20s -- never an outstanding athlete, but enough to stay in shape.
Then I stopped and didn't run at all for nearly a decade. Two years ago last month, I decided to start again. At first, that meant maybe 10 miles a week. There were days when I felt like my feet were going to snap off at my ankles. I was pushing 200 pounds.
I'm running 60mpw now, and I can handle that mileage comfortably. I'm not a great competitor, but I'm OK and getting better. "Easy" runs that I did at a 12:00 pace two years ago and a 10:00 pace a year ago I'm now doing at 8-9 pace. I used to avoid hills, now I eat them for breakfast. I'm down to 165 pounds and I FEEL lighter on my feet.
My attitude is that there's no "telling" your body anything. That's how people get injured and frustrated, and eventually quit. And while I play lots of little mind games with myself to deal with stuff like long runs, hot weather, hills, etc., really there are just two "tricks" that matter to me:
- Patience. Get your mileage in, learn to listen to your body, work on understanding when it's OK to push and when it's OK to dial back a notch or two. You'll do both at different times, and if you're not then you're doing something wrong. By all means, set short-term goals and strive for them, but also get comfortable with the idea that real progress happens over months and years.
- Consistency. You don't want or need to turn every workout into a death march. You DO need to commit to working out X days a week and then making every effort to keep that schedule. If you're sick or hurt, that's one thing. If it's too cold/hot/raining or you find yourself making lame excuses from day to day, then it's time for a gut check.
This is just how I do it, but it's working for me. I focus on these two things -- they're where I draw the line when it comes to showing who's the boss. If I'm taking care of business with these things, then the rest seems to take care of itself.
If you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll hear about it surprisingly often. It's because, like you said, everybody had been a newbie at one point. I've been involved with this class called "Beginning Women's Running Class" for Minnesota Distance Running Association for the past 7 years. As a part of this course, we had invited this lady in her 70s in the past 3 or 4 years to talk. She couldn't make it this year so we had one of our own coaches (we have 3) to talk. She was a heavy smoker, overweight and non-active at one point. So she decided to quit smoking, get out and do something about it. Now she's a ultra-marathon runner and had won a few races around the area.
Just from reading your post, I felt one line--"...my first 10k with a friend in 2 weeks and I've been trying to follow a plan but been struggling to reach..." I'd say that's your first mistake right there. If you're struggling to follow the plan, that's not the plan for you. You're trying to go over your head.
I've been working on putting together the revision of Arthur Lydiard's "Jogging" booklet. When he started the first group of "joggers" back in 1961, the result and how it's done and what they've done is quite startling. They couldn't even complete a full lap around a local school track (1/4 mile) at first and within 8 months, they were running 20 miles WITHOUT STOPPING (i.e., no walking break either). The phrase that keeps coming up is: you do what you feel happy about. You understand your own limitations and you work out within your own limitations and you'll then keep improving. But if you try to stick to some bogus schedules or numbers and you struggle, then most probably you won't. I saw recently the other thread where some people suggest you train hard everyday. You try to do that and you'll invariably struggle. That's not how you train as you feel happy about (well, I guess some people are happy that way...). In most cases, if you got the unrealistic goals or expectations, you'll get "discouraged". My wife had been training with a group of runners who just ran Grandma's Marathon (she didn't). They would do Yasso 800 in 4-minutes (8-minute pace) and clearly struggling. She asked why and they'd tell her; "Because I want to run a 4-hour marathon..." That's the other way around, you see? She would do them in about 4:20 or so because she has no pressure (she wasn't running Grandma's) and that's the pace she feels happy about even though she'd be left in the dust at first but, by the 4th or 5th one, she'd be passing most of them. She's a 3:47 marathoner by the way. Most of them, incidentally, came in between 4:20 and 4:40, disappointed and discouraged. That's not the way to train. You do what you feel happy about; and that means you do what you can. Then you'll improve.
Feeling the growl again
A little background and specific advice...
The first official race I ran that I trained for, I was 12yo and ran 27min+ for 2mi. Pathetic for a young healthy (but fat) boy. But I kept at it and ran 12:53(?) the next year. In HS my 5K went from ~21:30 to 17:01. In college I bettered that to 5K/10K of 16:13/34:18. By age 28 my 10K was down to 30:57.
So what you see here is very gradual improvement over ~16 years, where I was running pretty regularly the whole time. It was not linear, improvement came in blocks here and there, however. Several points I would make based on this that are applicable to your situation:
1) You are capable of more than you are willing to hope for. This is true for 99% of people. Remind yourself of that when a task or goal seems out of reach. If at any point in that 16 years someone would have told me what I'd be able to run 2-3 years in the future, I would not have believed it.
2) Break it up intp psychologically managable chunks. This has multiple applications.
a) Now at some point I knew I wanted to break 31min 10K. However if that had been my goal at the outset...or even 3 years earlier...it would have seemed an impossible, outlandishly wild goal, and this would have made it challenging to keep pursuing it. Set reasonable goals in the short- to mid-term, then chase them.
b) This applies to even workouts and races. Maybe that 8 mile run or whatever it is seems impossibly long. Focus on what you are going to do for the next mile. Don't think past that. Reach that goal, then focus on the next one. I cannot tell you how many marathons I've spent the last 10 miles only running with the next mile marker in mind...it works!!!
3) Find a way to love it for more than the goals. Training is hard. It is tedious. If you do it only for the goals, and you sometimes won't make those goals, this will negatively affect your mind's willingness to do what it takes to keep getting out the door or add those last few miles onto a run. Whether it be social reasons, solitude "me time" reasons, or whatever, find larger meaning behind your running and you are more likely to stay in the sport -- and be consistent, which is key to reaching your goals.
4) Be patient. Improvement will take time and will not be linear. Those longer runs on the schedule may be hard now and the 10K may not go as you hoped, but don't get discouraged! There is more time to train, and another race down the road. Do the work and results WILL follow.
"If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does. There's your pep talk for today. Go Run." -- Slo_Hand
I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills
Best Present Ever
I didn't every do any sports. I hated sports. In 1999 I signed up to train for a local all-women's four mile race (with the original name of "Women's 4 Miler"). I distinctly remember the first time I ran a WHOLE MILE without stopping. I mean, a WHOLE MILE. And when I finished the race in 44 minutes, I was so pleased with myself I didn't know what to do. Then I trained for and ran a local 10 mile race. Then I moved, got a PhD and had two more children and moved again in less than 4 years, and didn't run at all. Started back in 2006, and since then have run 8 marathons (including qualifying for and running Boston), bunches of shorted races, and one 50k race. I'm still not fast, but I run consistently and it makes me very very happy.
I ran a WHOLE MILE without stopping. I mean, a WHOLE MILE.
I ran a WHOLE MILE without stopping. I mean, a WHOLE MILE.
That was so exciting! I didn't experience that joy until age 55. Now I'm the kid and running's my candy store.
Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.
I'd say if you are new and struggling to finish your runs you might be doing it wrong. If your body is adapting it is because it's never done some of these things before then there isn't much the mind can do to force adaptations. The only thing you'd have to use the power of the mind for is to remember to be patient and persistent. One without the other doesn't really work too well.
In an infinite universe, the one thing sentient life cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion
As you can tell, there is some great advice here from experienced/knowledgeable people who are very willing to provide guidance, so you came to the right place. I remember running with my Dad as far back as the 3rd grade, and got interested in running at a very early age because I knew it would keep me in shape to play other sports, basketball in particular. I ran cross country and track in High School, won a few races but never really thought of myself as a very good runner. As a senior in the mile, a 5:08 got me last place in the league meet and I almost got lapped by the guy who won. I played hoops in college and always ran to stay in shape. Still semi active through marriage, kids, and then at 35 I looked in the mirror, got on the scale and realized I was 189 at 5’6. Not pretty. I started running and doing the elyptical machine at the gym and lost a bunch of weight. Finally in 2009, I decided to train a little for a 5k. Gradually got into better shape and ran a 23:13 5k. Ran more consistently over the next few years and got my 5k down to 22:16. Ran a marathon in 2011 but got hurt during my training and limped to a 5:18:59. At the end of last year, I knew I was getting stronger and really building a great base in November, December, and January running more miles in a month (130) then I did training for the first marathon. I got hurt in February because I was overdoing it, and it occurred to me I needed some help. This spring, I asked a friend to help me get ready for my next marathon, and a prerequisite for his help was that I log all my activity in Running Ahead. I ran a 21:18 5k on Father’s Day and approaching 180 miles for the month of June which bests my previous month, and my knew goal is to break 4 hours in the Maine Marathon in September. The point to reiterate is that this takes time, planning, and persistence. The progression is gradual, and you need to establish a base and increase your mileage over time (many months). My weekly mileage during marathon training last year was never more than 35 miles (and mostly in the high 20s). In the last 7 days I ran 52 miles. The challenge is to stay healthy and not overdue what your body can’t handle which is a learning process. I hurt my knee at 30 and never thought I would run more than 6 miles again. That was 2001. Lots of people have different running abilities, injury challenges, etc. but improvement is a process. Ask questions, listen to these people, and learn from your mistakes. But be patient because this is likely going to take time. Oh…and make sure your workouts are public so people can view your progress. Make comments about how you feel, what your pace felt like, aches and pains, etc. Look at others logs, see what others do, see where they've been, and take mental notes. It's ok to ask for help and it's great that you're doing so.
I've been trying to follow a training plan but I've been struggling
a lot of it I know is in my head
I've been trying to follow a training plan but I've been struggling
a lot of it I know is in my head
Training plans are written for some mythical average person. Everybody else is either held back by the plan, or struggles to keep up with it. If you can run four miles at easy training pace, you are ready to run a 10K. If you cannot run four miles, then you can still run a 10K. Just go slower.
It's not in your head. It's your body. We all improve at our own rate.
It took me a full year of running before I could do a 20 mile week, and 4.5 years of running before I could run a marathon. A friend was ready to run a marathon 3 months after starting running.