Deep, deep marathon thoughts! (Also known as, how Cindi can quit F’ing up marathons)

First, a random thought:  peanut butter cookies are Oh-So-Good when you throw 1/2 a bag of mini-chocolate chips in the dough.  Yum!

And an update on Meg:  She wrote me from camp and said that they are letting her run every day, as long as a counselor goes with her.  That’s my girl!


Part of our focus this week has been on the mental aspect of racing.  Specifically, blowing up in a race and not having the quantitative resuts that you wanted.  My specialty!  5 of my 7 marathons have been blow-ups that left me far from where I wanted to be quantitatively.  (Illinois and Twin Cities 2010 being the exceptions.  With Illinois and the heat, I just wanted to finish strong and uninjured and, towards the end when I saw sub-4:00 was a possibility, that became my goal; With TCM, although 2011 BQ was goal, 2012 BQ with the extra 5 minute cushion for being 40, was back up goal)

So this week we were told to look at race crisis situations (i.e. blow-ups) and instead of dwelling on missing the quantitative goal, to sit down and look at the race qualitively and see what you did good, what went wrong and how you could change that, etc.  Then to visualize the race again, but without the fuck ups (not Coach’s words, I’m paraphrasing because I love using the F bomb whenever the opportunity arises! 🙂

So here is what I came up with:

  • At Little Rock in March my upper right thigh/groin area started to hurt around mile 17, so I slowed down and it still hurt.  Coincidently, that was where The Big Evil Long Downhill was.  So I convinced myself that The Big Evil Long Downhill F’ed me up and that I was hurt and that I needed to slow down and try for a BQ another day.
  • At Grandma’s in June my upper right thigh/groin area started to hurt around mile 12.  Same type of hurt – not PAIN, but discomfort and sort of feeling like it was tweaked and like my leg wasn’t super stable.  I slowed down.  It still hurt.  So once again, I convinced myself BQ wasn’t happening and I slowed down and gave up on my goal.  (The IT band thing in mile 25 was a different thing).
  • So, I look at these things and wonder, “WTF?  I never, not once, had this issue during my training runs, even the long ones, even the MP ones, even the speedy ones.”  So why does it keep happening in races?  (True, I’m going faster in the race for longer, but I have certainly done 12 mile MP runs and not had the issue, so why would it arise and derail me just in races?)  And the issue magically disappears right after the race, so it’s NOT a real injury.
  • Then last night I was talking to some Speedy Runners from the group at a run club social (fun!  beer and running talk!) and they all had 3 things in common.  First, they all trained with Coach for Boston and set PR’s in Boston.  Second, none of them are training now because they are all injured.*  Third, a few that I talked to had MAJOR pain and issues in training and during Boston, but they kept on going during Boston and reached the finish line with a PR (even if their goals were more ambitious).
  • Then it struck me:  I think my problem is that I’m a wimp.  Marathons (racing them at least) are supposed to hurt.  If it didn’t hurt, everyone would do them.  And while I know, going in to it, that it will hurt, I haven’t toughened myself up/prepared myself to really deal with the pain that WILL come while I’m racing.
  • SO – what I am going to work on is actually visualizing the pain (right thigh pain and other pain) and visualize how I am going to deal with it.  I think if I really work on toughening up, and knowing that I CAN get through the race with the time that I want, if I plow through the mental/physical baggage, then I will see the quantitative results that I want.
  • I really do think this is my problem and I think I can work through it.  To me, a perfect example is my experience last year at TCM, when I started feeling pain and derailing at mile 21, had basically packed it in, and then at mile 23 when I realized that I actually still had a chance of BQ for 2012, I found that magical gear  you always hear people talk about (it does exist!) and I fought through the pain/discomfort and went for it.  I need to visualize THAT happening to me in TCM this year.  If you want to read the exciting details of that magical gear, race report is here.
Deep thoughts, huh?
*I have to admit, it was a little disheartening to see all of the speedy boston folks injured and not running now.  Like speedy Jen too.  Hopefully being speedy/ambitious/over-achiever and being injured don’t go hand in hand.  I can’t afford to be injured – I’m a complete bitch when I can’t run.

6 thoughts on “Deep, deep marathon thoughts! (Also known as, how Cindi can quit F’ing up marathons)

  1. The think the toughest thing in training (and sometimes racing) is knowing just how far you can push your body without a major breakdown. I failed at that last cycle! Ending up injured during training is a major fail, I knew I pushing it but instead of backing off I kept pushing hard and ended up ruining my goal marathon AND I’m still broken almost three months later :(.

    In my mind, I basically wasted the entire past year of training….lots of hard work, no result. I’m pretty mad at me!

    You’re going to have a GREAT marathon and soon! It takes so many things to work out, race day weather has been the biggest issues plaguing you so far and there isn’t a thing you can do about that.

    1. You push yourself harder than anyone I know Jen. It is SUCH a bummer that you are still injured. I miss you posting on KR and blogging regularly. Hope the doctor finds a fix for you soon!

  2. I think I’m a wimp too, but for other reasons. Pain only derailed me once during a marathon (NJ Marathon) but the other marathons I either (1) got tired and gave up or (2) was ill-prepared (NYC and Pocono when I didn’t do any hill work). This is why I started doing my long runs closer to MP…if I could simulate race day during training, I would be used to MP so I wouldn’t get so tired and give up so easily. But I still need to prepare for pain. My marathon in Sept has the potential to be hot and I could dehydrate and cramp up again.

    My, oh, my…it’s so much more than just the physical! I guess we need to keep thinking when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Maybe that will be my new mantra!

    1. I think there is alot to be said for pushing the pace on some of the long runs. For confidence, if nothing else. Your training plan has a good mix of MP and LSD long runs. I bet September will bring good things for you!

  3. Lora

    God, I *F* these things up like there’s no tomorrow. It would be intriguing to think back and see what went right and wrong in mine…

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