Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mind over Matter

Treadmill: 8 miles, 1:03:50, 7:59 pace, 1.5% incline, Avg HR = 144, Max HR = 150

Based on my experience, I believe there are four parts to conditioning for running. A) Muscles, B) Joints, C) Cardiothoracic, and D) Psyche.

I am going to touch on all four of those areas at some point, but today I will discus the psyche. Running is no different than most difficult tasks in life. No amount of physical preparation can substitute for the right frame of mind. Unbelievable things can happen if you have confidence in yourself and condition your mind to believe that success is attainable.

When I first started running six months ago I almost lost the battle in my mind. Even though my body was physically able to complete a slow three mile run, my mind was stretched to the limit and I doubted my ability to keep moving. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my wife, coupled with my innate stubbornness, I stuck with it and the second week was much easier. I didn't suddenly become "fit" in one week, but I did gain confidence by knowing that I could do it.

I recall an old childhood joke about a boy who thinks he can eat a whole watermelon, but says he has to run home for a few minutes before he can make the bet. After ten minutes he comes back, makes his wager and eats the entire watermelon. His friend pays up, and asks him why he had to go home first. The watermelon eater says that he didn't know if he could eat the whole thing, so he had to go home and find out by eating one first.

There are times in life that we are presented with challenges that exceed the limitations of our training. It's up to the psyche to bridge that gap between the end of our experience and the task in front of us. Dallas White Rock Marathon is that task for me. I'll never run 26.2 miles during training. And even if I did, I'd never run it at race pace. The first time I push myself to those limits will be on game day. It's just not feasible for me to eat my practice watermelon, figuratively speaking, because the additional wear and tear on the body would physically set me back and ultimately impair my performance.

Running long runs, hitting goals for speed sessions, attacking the hills -- all of these are designed as much for the mind as the body. Over the past two weeks I've started to gain the confidence that I can do a good job in Dallas. I think the critical step was my 15 mile run, and my ability to maintain several sub-8 minute miles. But equally as important is the lesson I learned that first week of running--that I'm able to fight through the mental barriers attempting to hold me back. I'm physically not there yet, buy my psyche is where it needs to be to succeed.


8:00, 8:04, 8:01, 7:57, 7:55, 7:58, 7:58, 7:57

It was great to run today since I took two unscheduled days off on Sunday (travelling and recouping) and Monday (worked late). I toyed with tacking on an additional two miles to make up for some lost time, but I noticed my IT band tightening up and I remembered all of the good advice that I've read and heard about not trying to making up the mileage from a missed day. I don't want to risk an injury, so I saved it for another day. Tomorrow's speed session should be quite a challenge.

No comments: