Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One More Mile - Mental Marathon Training

This weekend I set out for my longest run to date - 18 miles ... on the 18th no less. That part wasn't planned, but I thought it was fitting once I realized the date.

I won't sugar coat the run, it wasn't great. It was definitely not the confidence-boosting run I wanted. I have had far worse though, so there's that I suppose. And, regardless, I finished the run. All 18 miles of it.

The truth of the matter is, I pretty much set myself up for failure on this one. I did not want to run the full length of the river trail, so in my head I was already unhappy about running. My aversion to running the full loop was honestly making me dread the run days beforehand. I could picture the route and didn't want to do it. Period.

Because we had plans Saturday, I had to get up earlier than I really wanted to get the run done in time. Another peg on my snit level. When I got up I decided that I was going to do a different route, what it was, I wasn't sure, but I was NOT running the giant loop.

I meandered around my neighborhood getting in 6 miles by the time I got down to the river, where it appeared a 5K walk/run was about to start. Nothing was blocked, however, so I continued on across the river and along the river trail, the one I was NOT running the full length of by the way.

My legs were heavy from the first step and never really wanted to cooperate. I tried to distract myself by taking in the scenery, saying "hi" to the other runners, trying to enjoy the moment. When it came to making the choice of continuing or circling back, which would mean more meandering randomly, I circled back and ended up running into, literally, the 5K race. Of course I started trying to race people, because that makes perfect sense to do when you're at mile 11 of an 18-mile run right?

I had to force myself to stop, step aside, let the bulk of runners go by so that I would stop trying to race a race I wasn't racing! I decided to try out a Honey Stinger Waffle and managed to get half of it down. Let's just say that won't be race day fuel.


I forced myself to start running again and made it back to the house at 14.5 miles in, at which point Jason was going to join me for the last bit. I re-filled my water bottle, took a Clif Gel, immediately got side cramps, but pushed on. I was getting to the point of just being angry. Angry at myself for not preparing better, for letting myself get mental about the run, angry that I was STILL running and it just wouldn't seem to end.

I was thankful to have Jason with me for the last few miles. He didn't say much, but it was nice not being alone finally. He congratulated me when I hit mile 17; I almost started crying. One more mile, one more mile, I can do one more mile was the chant in my head. And I did ... one more mile.

The second I stopped running, I knew I had not fueled well or had enough water. I was shaky and not feeling well at all. I got down more water, NUUN and a massive protein shake before heading upstairs to stand in the HOT shower. I was frozen, the protein shake didn't help that by the way. After showering and piling on warm sweats, I snuggled into my bed and napped.

I only had time to nap for an hour, but that was better than nothing. I was pleased that the only thing that was sore was my heel - not that I'm happy that it's still hurting, but happy that my muscles all felt good.

We ended up heading to the big tailgate party for the Razorbacks, not ideal recovery trust me. But it was a gorgeous day and fun visiting with friends and being up and moving was actually working in my favor. We didn't stay terribly long, I was fading fast.



When we got back home around 5 it was immediately back into PJs for me, then I became one with the couch with my feet propped up. I was sound asleep by 8:45 and slept until 8:45 the next day - only waking twice.

Sunday was spent still in recovery mode. I got on my bike for an easy spin, but honestly the only thing hurting was my heel, my legs felt perfectly fine - as in, I could easily have gone out for another run. At least my body is getting more adjusted to the higher miles. Now to adjust my brain.

I will say that I have sufficiently beat myself up over the run, but also got in great advice that I've taken to heart. I'm done beating myself up and am moving on. I know that running is more than just a physical challenge. It also requires mental conditioning. So, I'll chalk that run up to mental training.