It’s been a while since we’ve talked. I have no excuse other than I’ve been busy–busy working, busy running, busy living, and I hope the same goes for you. But I’ve missed you. Hope you’ve missed me too! There’s no better time like the present to catch up with each other. I’ll go first…
Berkeley Half Marathon: I’ll do the whole race recap thing later, but in short, I blew up. I have no excuse to lean on and no lack of training to blame. I’ve been on top of my game and it just didn’t come together on race day. These things happen sometimes. I had a loose goal of 1:42, which would be a PR for me. I ended up running a 1:47. In shorter race language, 5 minutes is a LOT. And it felt like a lot. I can look back and think of at least ten times I could have dug deeper, run faster, fought harder, and just as many times that I didn’t. I think the true test starts now–how do I deal with this “failure”? How do I learn from it? Is there a way to fix what happened so that it doesn’t happen in LA in a couple months? Which brings me to….
How Bad Do You Want It?: I’ve been reading this book by Matt Fitzgerald after it was recommended to me by a friend after she CRUSHED the course record at Javelina 100 last month. Mental strength has always been a component in endurance racing. You cannot run an ultra marathon or finish an ironman without that mental fortitude–your body only takes you so far and it is up to your mind to take you to the finish line. Sometimes, it is the difference between winning and losing, but more often, it’s the difference in finishing and not finishing when it comes to longer endurance endeavors. I think it also can be applied with equal importance into my own marathon training. Knowing that I had some issues already with mental strength going into the BHM, I started reading the book. Maybe I should have finished more than 40 pages before I raced, but I am hoping it will given me some insight as to my own weaknesses and how I can improve my chances of a successful marathon in LA. I asked myself “How bad do you want it?” around mile 9 of the BHM, and I answered, almost audibly “Not that bad”. It’s a little bit of chicken and the egg, but the answer was either indicative of my state of mind or my state of mind verbalized caused a physical decline in my performance after that moment. Either way, I wish I knew why I didn’t want it that bad that day. I had trained specifically for this half marathon and was ready to run what I needed. I am physically capable of running a 1:42. I know I am. But there was a reason why I couldn’t that day. It had nothing to do with the hills on the course or the fact I was sick in the days prior to the race. It had everything to do with my mental attitude on race day. I hope that when I ask myself that same question in a couple months and in the training leading up to LA, I can answer it differently.
I’ve also been using what I’ve learned in the book as applied to my (physical) strength training at the crossfit gym as well. Often, hesitation means the difference between bailing on an attempt and succeeding. It can also mean the difference between hurting yourself and staying safe during your workout. Hesitation is that moment of doubt and if you can eliminate that doubt, you also eliminate the chance that the split second will sabotage your efforts. Specifically, I was working on a move called the “split jerk””. You start off with the barbell in a front rack position (sitting on your collar bones/shoulders). You dip down and drive the bar up as you drop quickly under the bar, pushing it to a lock-ed out overhead position with your legs split in a lunge position. That drive up and the drop under the bar needs to happen quickly–so quickly you often have to rely on muscle memory and can’t think about your movement as it happens–it just has to happen. Often, athletes can’t push more weight in a split jerk because they cannot drop below the bar fast enough, meaning they end up using too much upper body strength to push the bar up instead of dropping their body down and this becomes a limiting factor. I’ve been working on technique and working on eliminating hesitation in this move and I’ve been able to move up 5kg without increasing strength requirements in the past couple of weeks.
The Morning Shakeout: Speaking of new reading material, Mario Fraioli, a friend who is equal parts phenomenal runner and writer has started a new e-newsletter called “The Morning Shakeout”. Pretty clever, huh? Mario, whois also the Senior Editor at Competitor Magazine, discusses everything from the latest controversy in USATF to the Beer Mile as a growing phenomenon. But best of all, it’s a way to start your day with a succinct but thoughtful digest of everything you (as a runner) find interesting. Click here to subscribe.