in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: motivation, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 257
Running is a crazy, paradoxical, numerical-obsessedo, backwards world.
Just when you don’t think you can run another step, you push through five more minutes, then instantly you feel like your legs have transformed into two totally different running entities. You go on for miles.
The first interval for a runner can sometimes feel like the worst. That’s where the nerves are, getting started.
Races are even crazier, poised at the line, in the seconds before the gun is about to CRACK you feel certain if they take any longer to fire it you’ll explode. Then, CRACK, and the whole world slips away.
“Back to those intervals…ya, suckers say the hardest is the first one…plowing through miler number three of five HAS to be more painful,” you think.
You then say, “Legs, don’t worry, this is the last interval we have to so…promise.” You say that after every one. Until you finish. Scr##w honesty.
Funny how a running partner that you train with feels like a war partner. You come to know them so well, read their breathing and stride as well as your own. You become intrinsically linked in the shared quest for your best.
Easy days can feel like the epitome of hypocrisy sometimes.
Out of nowhere getting blessed with one of THOSE days is a special kind of euphoria a runner never forgets.
The good days, the slog runs, the meh ones, the mentally tough workouts you’re proud of, the long runs that you wish never end…all of it. It’s crazy stuff. But it’s runner crazy and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
1) Just before you start a race, what makes you feel confident on the line?
2) Best lie you’ve told yourself/legs to get through a workout?
3) One of THOSE days, how many do you think a runner gets?
A runner’s brain is constantly being flooded by sensory input information. Feedback from the muscles, skin, lungs, eyes, ears, feet, nerves from everything. It’s a matter of taking all of these messages and warping them into what is in the runners’ best interest.
The Physical Messages
Typically the loudest feedback responders are going to be from your muscles and lungs. Here comes relays from your cardiovascular system and lactic threshold responders. The muscles announcing they are being worked, those mitochondria are breaking down glycogen and supplying your energy to run on; they are attention mongers demanding to be credited for their work.
These are pretty basic, primordial messages to your brain. Instinctual. You can’t change that these messages will be sent and that they are mostly containing shouts of pain, complaints, and fatigue.
You can’t control what messages are coming in while you are running but you CAN control how you interpret them. A runner that is mentally tough is able to manage and get as close to ignoring certain sensory feedback as they can.
* Anticipate: Incidentally the ability to manage what your legs and body are telling you while you run starts before the first step. This is anticipating the uncomfort in pain. It is a reality, but it is one we must both accept and deny. Accept the race and workouts will hurt but deny that we will let that pain break us. Anticipating the pain is a lot different from fearing it.
* Realize: Once you realize that EVERYONE will hurt when they push themselves running, not just you, a runner doesn’t feel alone. Admitting pain is present is not a weakness, admitting that these workouts are tough isn’t a weakness…it only becomes a weakness when you start to believe you can’t do the workouts.
* Assess: As you run assess the messages you’re being told and start to ‘sort’ them. Pain of a workout is present and it’s a different pain from that of an injury. Sort the ‘usual’ pain into the ‘ignore’ pile and be attuned to the ‘different’ pain.
* Reassess/Rework: Now that you have the ‘ignore’ pile it’s time to reassess those messages and rework them. We’ve acknowledged you can’t STOP them from coming in but you override them through a runner’s coping mechanisms.
1) Visualization- By practicing how you will be running beforehand you condition yourself to stay positive and controlled DURING your running, racing, and workouts.
2) Self-Talk- Mantra’s work well, flip the ‘I can’t keep this pace up’ into something productive like, ‘I am strong’ or ‘I will not let this break me.’
3) Focus on Controllables- When the pain of running becomes more intense hone in on the ‘controllables’ like stride, form, and breathing. Counting steps or breaths acts as a distraction.
4) Goals- Always set goals for your running workouts and races beforehand. Don’t ambiguously go in because without concrete numbers or goals it’s easier to let your brain talk you into just ‘settling’ and giving up when the pain starts.
5) Selective Denial- We come back to runners living in a kind of state of denial. The lies of, ‘I’m only running one more repeat/mile/5-minutes/step’ get us to the next point, where we then lie again.
A runner draws confidence from a lot of places: past workouts, a full season of training, race times, other runners they train with that have faster PR’s, etc. A large part of being mentally tough is being confident that you can WARP the messages coming into your brain and OVERRIDE them to push through the pain.
This confidence is built up the longer you run, the snowball effect. As with all other rules of running it hinges upon consistency, consistently proving you can push through the pain. There are margins for error and just like bad races there will be days where you don’t do a great of a job running and overriding the pain messages as you know you’re capable of.
You get through the bad days, learn where you went wrong, and then take those lessons into your next run.
Let your running be ruled by expertly brain warping that flood of sensory feedback from your body. Don’t let the messages steal your confidence because you CAN run and do a lot more than your body would like you to believe.
1) Anticipating the pain isn’t fearing it; fear takes hold of you and consumes your running confidence. What is a refute you use to keep this anticipation in check? (ie: remember times you’ve pushed through pain, mantra, pre-race hyping yourself up tactic, etc.)
2) Give an example of how you take assessing an incoming message you want to ignore and then reassess/rework it.
3) What are a few of the ways/places you draw confidence as a runner?
I’m a neurotic runner, my parents are also neurotic fitness folks, my sister is a kick@$$ cross-fitter, my littlest brother is headed to the rugby State Champs. No, I’m not trying to brag on my siblings here, (well, maybe a bit) but more make a point that I’m lucky in that my immediate family ‘gets it’ when it comes to making running and fitness a priority.
As in it’s awesome to be able to say without any guilt, “Sorry, can’t make it to such-and-such I’ve got to go run.” Point taken, understood.
Or how about when there’s rain pouring down, the wind is blowing like mad and you’re about to step out for your run…your mom is heading out with you. You both look at each other and laugh mid-run when the wind literally blew you into her. #builtintrainingpartner
I grew up where getting out and running, or sweating SOME HOW, everyday is a sort of given rather than a question. Now I also write and do art about running. Wow, I really have made myself well-rounded.
So today, I’m not going to lie I really just have to laugh sometimes at the contrast between my own viewpoint on running and fitness and that of some other people.
I read on Twitter some chick complaining that she couldn’t run because she forgot her ipod. Seriously? I’ve done miles on the treadmill staring at a wall. #boring #suckitup
It was pretty windy a few days back, I got home and a neighbor remarked, “You actually ran in that?” Ummm, sir, I’d run through the eye of a hurricane if it came between getting a run in or not.
Sorta rainy a few days back and I overheard a couple in line at the store saying, “Darn, the forecast is rainy again tomorrow…guess we can’t go on our bike ride.” Again, reference above.
Am I bit skewed? Maybe brainwashed by the miles?
Horror beyond horrors, and I may receive some hate on this for sounding like a fitness snob, are the people who are constantly getting surges of ‘motivation’. These surges occur not when they are in the middle of a run, while running repeats at the track, or even when they are wearing a pair of running shoes. These are the people who at 9pm are struck with the overwhelming desire to become a runner. To get fit.
“Okay, I’m doing it!” They ask for tons of tips, maybe even pay for weeks of workouts, trainers, diet books…whatever. Buuuuuut…come the next morning it’s a little windy. The day after that it’s raining. Maybe they forget their ipod the next day.
It’s alright, I acknowledge I’m probably a tad on the more obessive side with this whole running thing. Though at least I know I’m not alone. There are others out there smirking and balking at some of the excuses people have in blowing off a run.
I know I’m not the only runner out there who will arrange their day in accordance to their running or training. Hey, I got plenty of retweets and FB comments when I bagged on the girl who forgot her ipod.
If not in the ‘real world’ then darn-it at least I have a safe-haven for being a fitness snob within my immediate family…and I guess that’s all an obsessive, neurotic runner could ask for.
1) What’s one of the funnier things people have said to you obviously showing they just don’t ‘get it’ in terms of being consistent with running or working out?
2) Admittedly sometimes being neurotic can go too far, but it’s funny to laugh at ourselves. What’s an instance that you maybe are even just a bit embarrassed to say you did in order to get a run or workout in?
I’ll be brave. Sneaking out at 3am when I was supposed to be on a break and going for a short run may not have been my finest hour. There are worse, but I’m only so brave…lol.
3) Most boring, mind-numbing experience you’ve had on a stationary machine, but you did it without an ipod or TV?
Staring at a wall for 8 miles, or when I was doing a rowing machine in a garage with a nice view of the driveway.
Getting a runner to be faster is an interesting undertaking. It’s actually a concept that coaches and athletes have been trying to perfect for centuries. As science has improved, training has evolved, we’ve created training phases and workouts that push the runner and train their body.
Simplistically it’s easy to sum it up like this: if you want to run faster, run faster. This is true of course, doing speed work and improving your base speed, is going to enable a runner to run a faster pace as the distance gets longer. As in, if you improve your mile time you’ll be able to run a 5k and 10k faster. If you don’t do speed work you’ll never improve your speed.
Though as I said, that’s overly simplistic, and if a runner is truly wanting to see how fast they can be they need to open their eyes and expand their training logs to include ALL of the factors that make a runner faster. You see, the body is an interconnected machine, you can’t just concentrate on straight running workouts.
I’ve been working on a series for Competitor.com tied to speed work and the other techniques that enable a runner to, well, run faster. There are drills, strength work, and a neuromuscular component to getting faster.
Check out the series so far:
What Distance Runners Can Learn From Sprinters
The Neuromuscular Component to Speed Work
Distance Runners Staying SHARP During an Injury
In reading each of them you’ll see that the first step to getting faster is working on your shorter-repeat speed. You shouldn’t avoid those 200′s even if you’re a 10k and above runner. But that’s ONE step in the process.
After that you’ve got to build the synapses and teach the nerves to fire faster; your brain is ‘telling’ your legs and foot to move faster. But if you don’t build the connections the ‘message’ won’t be able to travel faster from brain to foot.
A runner’s form is also related, and the articles touch on that. Running faster takes POWER and EXPLOSIVE propulsion from your muscles. Your muscles also need to be ‘waken-up’ and eased into the movements of running. That’s why a proper warm-up is so important for your had workouts and races. There will be more on that specifically in upcoming articles.
So if you’d like to run faster, even if you’re a marathoner, it’s important to realize that it’s a multi-pronged approach. It will take time too, but consistency is the law of distance running and THAT is what will, in the end, take you to the next level.
Consistently incorporate speed work, speed-endurance, and endurance work into your training.
Consistently be working on your core and strength routines.
Consistency with foot-firing and ladder drills that play off of the short speed sessions.
Practice, improve, and then have a coach or be a student of the sport if you’re training yourself.
Without going on a long tangent, a big mistake many new runners are making is getting swept up in marathon and mileage mania. They just want to do more, more, more. That’s fine, but if you want to get faster you need to TRAIN to run faster. That’s where quality of miles becomes more important than just quantity.
I hope you enjoy the series so far and keep on the lookout for the next ones. Running is an action that can be broken down to be incredibly simplistic: left, right, left. Running faster can also be thought of in simple fashion: run faster. BUT it’s a lot more complicated, and to be honest insanely interesting, than just that.
To run faster you’ve got to be training your body to do so on multiple levels.
1) What’s a concept about speed work that you have learned from this series so far?
2) Have you done any work geared toward training your neuromuscular system to get you faster? Or is this a new idea to you?
3) If you’re training to get faster, what are some of your ‘staple’ speed sessions?
Lately it feels like my brain is running way faster than my legs could ever keep pace. That’s a darn shame, because one would certainly opt for running a new PR rather than mentally shouting, “SHUT UP!” to your brain at 2am and imploring it to go to bed.
Speaking of PR’s, track racing season is getting to be in full swing. Some people have a bit of a phobia when it comes to the track, others find the monotony of double-digit laps, well, monotonous. The thing with track though, is it BLEEDS speed…as a runner, how can you not love that?
Each distance is unique, duh, the number of laps to the race you’ll be running presents its own challenges. The ratio of speed to endurance, the contrast between utter lactic ONSLAUGHT from the gun versus the more gradual building of the pain in the 10k. Both grueling, just in a different way.
Each race has a ‘volatile’ factor. This would be the crucial moments and laps that can make or break your race. The margins of time where if you’re not ON IT you may have very well lost the race even if you’re still got laps and laps to go.
There’s not just ONE moment in time of course, but for the sake of brevity let’s highlight a few of the volatile factors for the events:
* 1500/Mile: That dang third lap. Here is where the pain of the pace has already set in, the ‘taste’ of the finish isn’t quite close enough to kick in. Your mind starts to dauntingly anticipate that grueling last lap. COMBAT: Know that third lap is going to suck, know that it will make your race if you can pass the people letting their brain wander.
* 3200: Right around laps 4-6 it is easy to let your brain check-out. It’s prime time to make a move, surge and establish a gap on those who either went out too fast for that first mile or the poor souls who are just letting their mind wander. COMBAT: Go out on pace the first mile and throw down a move…remember the beauty of negative splits.
* 5k: It’s funny how running that first mile can feel so easy, a breeze, too easy. The middle mile is where you need to wrangle your brain and keep it FOCUSED. Much like the 3rd lap of the mile, the middle of your 5k can lapse into a fog if you’re not careful. COMBAT: Don’t let yourself get pulled out too fast the first mile, stay mentally engaged the middle mile, and anticipate the cold slap of pain somewhere after the second mile. It’s funny how it can suddenly sneak up on you, but be prepared for it and stay strong through to the finish.
Each race has its own set of ‘volatile’ factors…that’s what makes each and every track distance so fun. It’s a test, as is everything with running, testing mostly yourself. The competition is there as an opportunity to propel your performances forward…feed off of their presence.
Track is awesome, just don’t let the distance of the race pull a fast one on you. Be prepared and then enjoy the unique challenges of each event.
1) What is your favorite track distance to race?
2) Pick a distance I didn’t highlight and share one of their ‘volatile’ factors.
3) Share a ‘volatile’ factor that I didn’t address for one of the above races.
It’s ‘easy’ to run fast when everything is going right. Ideal conditions, you’re hitting perfect splits, the legs have POP. The thing is though, the real test of a runner and their mental toughness is how they respond to all the other days.
There will workouts in heat, wind, and rain. Runs where, for whatever reason your legs just don’t ‘show up’…they are flat. Other times you’ll be left gutting out a really tough workout but forced to run it solo. But you can’t take those things as EXCUSES. FACTORS, certainly, perhaps you’ll have to adjust the workout, but don’t start looking for a cop-out.
See, your mind is an expert manipulator. It’s already looking for ANY kind of excuse, viable reason to tell you to stop this silly running, ease up, slow down, cut yourself some slack. A runner’s constantly working against that sort of ingrained human trait, to push past the limits the mind is imposing on the body.
A runner must combat the voices of doubt and complaining already…think of it like a basal level of white noise in the background that you must ignore just to get out the door and running the first few steps. Hard workouts up the ante, taking that constant background chatter and giving it a megaphone; you’ve got to not only ignore it but COMBAT it by telling it to, “Shut the h*** up!” Gearing yourself up to run hard takes extra mental reserves, through the course of the workout the amount of positive self-talk escalates as you tire, as the pain REALLY sets in.
Running that hard workout when things are all falling into place, the momentum of hitting the splits and you’re clicking, is infinitely easier than when even ONE thing is off. (ex: it’s hot out) That single ‘off-factor’ and your mind JUMPS on the opportunity for a cop-out, “Just cut yourself some slack, I mean it’s hot out.”
Ease up and that quickly can morph into this the next hard workout: “Just cut yourself some slack, your legs just feel flat today. It’s not your fault…just ease up today and next time when your legs feel really good we’ll go hard…deal?”
See, that slippery, manipulative brain of yours works fast. You can’t wait for that ‘perfect’ day for a few reasons:
1) PERFECT: Those fan-freaking-tasting workouts are the anomaly, wait around for them and they darn well may never come.
2) VICIOUS CYCLE: Start giving in to that whining brain every time the pain sets in and things get tough and it’s the snowball effect. Soon you’ll be pulling out every time you have a hangnail on your pinkie toe.
Bad workouts and horrible races happen, they actually make you a TOUGHER runner because if you can mentally get through them, stay strong and still give it all you had for the day, you’ll prove something very important to yourself:
I can run when it sucks. I can run better when it doesn’t suck…but I CAN run when things are really sucky.
Those mental battles, where you win, build confidence. You need that. Conversely, take too many of those excuses to not still give it your all out there running and you get used to it. Getting used to that is like the kiss of death for a runner…it’s like a fatal virus. Because running hurts, despite how much we must deny it to ourselves for the sake of actually doing it.
You have to be tough to be a runner. The TOUGH runners are the ones who battle through even when the splits are off, they get stuck in no-man’s land during a race, and they’re doing a hard workout by themselves.
Some of the workouts you should be most proud of may have been where you were running horribly off pace, but you got through it. You were TOUGH. Next time, when the legs do show up, the times will come but you’ll have the extra confidence of knowing you can run hard when things suck.
1) Weather is certainly something to FACTOR into your workouts of course and adjust the times. How do you plan to adjust due to the elements and conditions outside of your control?
2) How do you handle the workouts where your legs just don’t show up for the day? What kind of positive self-talk do you turn to?
3) Share a workout or race that you are proud of for your mental toughness, maybe a part of the story the actual numbers can’t fully recount.
You know the kind of feeling where your running shoes are staring up at you, two gaping black holes where your feet SHOULD be.
In case you ever need that extra shove out the door I introduce to you the latest line in running shoes. Other quotes include:
* Love me.
* Erase me.
* I see you.
* That pint will taste better earned.
* You can’t see any writing on a winner’s shoes.
Whatever your shoes are saying to you, don’t let them mock you. Shut them up. Put your feet in them and get running.
1) What should be another quote/quip to add to our line or running shoes with sass?
2) What’s something you tell yourself if you’re lacking in the motivation department?
Remind myself that my own running guilt is NOT worth putting up with if I weenie out.
3) If we were to offer a line of spikes with writing on the soles, what should they read?
I think if we were to let people sharpie in some PR goals…just be ready to scratch out and re-sharpie.
I’m a runner, but to pay the bills I’m a writer. In doing some reading for work I came across an article highlighting a few of the traits that the author felt made Steve Jobs the incredible innovator that he was.
The thing is, be it a creative dreamer in the business world or a motivated runner with aspirations, many of the traits that will get you to the top in one apply to the other. A goal is a goal after all, being goal-driven and having the ability to persevere comes down to pretty much the same things.
The Entrepreneur article was a good read, but I found myself hearing echos of themes I’ve written about right here.
PASSION. Do what you love and regardless of outcome never forget that you love it. Running is wrought with highs and lows, to get through the tough times you need to remember that underneath it all, you really do have a genuine love for running in the purest form. Running fast is awesome, but running as a stand-alone needs to be your passion.
CURIOSITY. I’ll stretch this to mean more having the ability to wonder, “What can I do?” Run curious. Run for the journey of finding your best. Dream epic goals and go for them. Even if you fail you’re still better off than being moved to shoot for it.
NO FEAR. They say Jobs wasn’t afraid of failing, good. Because you shouldn’t be afraid, failures happen. They are unavoidable, you learn from failures and the epic fails of races and workouts make you BETTER. Or rather, they’ll make you better if you’re able to learn from them and apply those lessons going forward.
Running may be
better different than business in a number of ways, but getting to the top of something takes the same qualities regardless. This works even if the ‘top’ is your personal best. That’s the remarkable thing about running, even if you’re never going to realistically set a World Record or win an Olympic Medal you can still take the journey. Have the courage, tenacity, and CURIOSITY to take the trek to find your best.
Run curious, my friends. Run without fear. Run with PASSION.
1) What is a trait that you had before you were a runner that has helped your running?
2) What is a trait that running has actually helped you acquire and hone?
3) How do you try to run without fear?
By: Diana Hurwitz,
Blog: Game On! Creating Character Conflict
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Add a tag
As I watched yet another body count trend upward in a recent movie, it inspired me to list the top five things that bore me as a viewer/reader. These clichéd and overused tropes are supposed to wow, but leave me snoring. This list applies to fiction as well as movies.
1) Gratuitous sex scenes, aka sex with a stranger.
It’s stupid. Why should I care? The encounter between two people who truly long for each other, who have been kept apart then finally come together, is far more intriguing. Couples who have a history that reunite or make up are more interesting than random rutters.
2) Random violence.
Killing one character I've grown invested in is more compelling than blasting away with an automatic weapon downing characters I don’t know or care about. It's a fact of human nature that genocide in a distant land doesn't register until the battle is brought to a person's front door. The closer the character who dies is to the protagonist, the higher the story stakes. As much as I love cozy mysteries, there's almost a disconnect when it comes to the victims. The best cozy mystery makes me care that the victim died.
It’s a turn off. As much as I appreciate special effects makeup artists, they can use their talents to make cooler effects that don’t involve rolling heads or spurting arteries. In books, I really don’t need paragraphs of gruesome details. I scan past them. Same with torture and battle scenes. They make me cringe. I'm a grown-up. I have experienced loss and pain. I get the drift. The reality that people are bestial and kill each other is disgusting and horrifying enough. We never followed Anne Frank to the concentration camp, but the reality of the horror of that story scarred me for life. Why? Because I grew to know and like her and that made what she went through personal rather than abstract. If you want to impress upon your readers true horror, make it personal.
4) Drawn out panoramic shots.
Whether it’s a prolonged movie clip or endless paragraphs describing the setting in excessive detail, I have a tendency to fast forward or skim read past them. Take a picture; it lasts longer. Have you ever sat through an endless slideshow of someone else's vacation? Make description short and make it count, then move onto the point of the scene. It's even better if the setting has an impact on the scene.
5) Adults or teens that behave like out of control toddlers.
Book or movie, I have no patience with these characters. I wouldn't hang out with them in person. I don't waste page time with them either. If this character is the protagonist, I put the book down and it goes on my discard pile.
What tropes inspire you to flip pages or quit reading?
Runners have a love affair with the Boston Marathon. Rightfully so, even if you’re not a marathoner, heck, even if you’re not a runner you’ve heard of the famed race. The hills have names, the stories of races past are epic.
I recently wrote a piece for Competitor.com: Four Boston Marathon Tips From Dick Beardsley. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this one for a few reasons, 1) the 1982 Boston Marathon, coined the Duel in the Sun, between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley defines mental toughness 2) Dick Beardsley was one of the most supportive and inspiring people to me after my car accident. He had multiple accidents that left his legs mangled, yet he is a runner today. He’s one of the sweetest, most positive people and his encouragement through my recovery meant the world to me.
In the article Beardsley noted how his parents, both non-runners, had gifted him with ‘to Boston Marathon’ funds upon his graduation from high school. When he finally did get to the starting line he recounts, “I’ve never been to a race where when you step off the plane you can feel the excitement in the air! I’ve spoke with Olympians that have told me they would rather win Boston then a Olympic medal!”
Racing brings out that electricity, the nervous excitement of hopes, aspirations, goals every runner has. The goals they’ve staked so much of themselves in, sweat out the miles, the grueling hard workouts, this brings anticipation. The anticipation is mixed with a bit of pressure (you need a little self-inflicted pressure, just enough, not too much though) because the day is finally here. Be it Boston or any race, a runner needs thrives off of that energy, the nerves, it ups the ante, and can fuel your performance.
The Boston Marathon has its hills named, but what aren’t named are the downhills. Ahhh, those tricky descents are deceptive because one would ‘think’ rolling downhill, letting gravity do a bit of work is ‘easier’. But as Beardsley stressed when asked of a crucial training tip for runners aiming for Boston, “TRAIN YOUR BODY ON THE DOWNHILLS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!” Hill climbs work the quads but so do downhills; ironically the pounding force of the downhill can beat you up just as much, maybe more.
It’s also easy to carried away and blitz out too fast with those steep downgrades. In the article Beardsley cautioned runners how NOT going out too fast is infinitely more important on the Boston course.
Runners should train for their race course. I wrote all about that in THIS post, because there aren’t races on a treadmill, you want to be prepared for the conditions you’ll be racing your competitors on.
This year’s Boston Marathon, I won’t be shy, I’m not going to even try to hide the fact that I’m rooting for Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. Hopefully this year one of these amazing women will bring Boston back ‘home’ in that an American will take the title.
For all those racing, be it the Boston Marathon or otherwise, have confidence. You’ve done all the work you can do by the point you reach the days and moments before hitting the starting line. Rather than look back with any doubts or ‘I should have dones’, push that from your mind. You can’t change the past. Only look forward, recount the tenacity for which you DID do the work, be realistic with your goals for the race, but don’t be afraid to reach high enough to make yourself feel a little uncomfortable…nervous maybe.
When the gun goes off, feed off of the energy around you, thrive off of your competition, let them pull you along, and RACE!
1) Have you run the Boston Marathon? Are you running this year?
2) How do you use the atmosphere of race day to fuel your performance?
3) Share a mental affirmation, or something you tell yourself, to make you feel confident when you hit the starting line.
By: Diana Hurwitz,
Blog: Game On! Creating Character Conflict
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Luke Murphy
, Dead Man's Hand
, Add a tag
Today's post features a guest appearance by Luke Murphy, author of Dead Man's Hand. He explains how to make an antihero your protagonist by providing him with solid motivation. Luke Murphy describes his protagonist, Calvin Watters:
The four most common character conflicts in stories are: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, and man vs. himself.
The single most common character conflict in suspense/mystery novels is man vs. man. This is usually seen through serial killers, murder investigations, assassination plots, etc. One character is battling against another character in the story.
There's plenty of this in DEAD MAN`S HAND, but I also wanted to add another element to entertain readers.
The central theme of DMH is the plot built around framing Calvin Watters for murder. Calvin spends the story evading the cops, as well as a hitman, while trying to solve the crime and prove his innocence. (Man vs. Man, right?)
But I truly believe that the major character conflict in my story is Calvin vs. himself.
Calvin Watters was on his way to NFL stardom when a sudden, selfish decision destroyed any dream he ever had. He remembered when the rich had welcomed him into their group as a promising, clean-cut athlete bound for glory. Now he was just an outsider looking in. Just another thug.
Pain bolted through his right knee, but the emotional pain from a shattered ego hurt even worse. He was the only one to blame for USC's humiliating loss and his own humiliating personal downfall.
The press, always ready to tear down a hero, had shown no restraint in attacking him for his egotistic, selfish decision and obvious desire to break his own school record. One minute he was touted as the next Walter Payton, the next he was a door mat for local media.
Looking at him now, no one would believe that back then he was a thousand-yard rusher in the NCAA and welcomed with open arms in every established club in Southern California. Hell, he had been bigger than the mayor.
That the resulting injury had ended his college football career and most importantly, any chances of a pro career didn’t matter to anyone. By making the wrong, selfish, prideful decision, he’d made himself a target for the press and all USC fans.
The devastating, career-ending knee injury wasn't the quarterback's fault for missing the audible, or the fullback's fault for missing the key block. It was his and it had taken him some time to understand and accept responsibility for it.
After he spent three years building a reputation as the toughest collector in Vegas, no one even knew he'd been one of the greatest college running backs ever. To them, he was just “The Collector.”
Now Calvin has to rebuild his life and his future, eliminating the thoughts of his downfall, picking himself up, dusting off, and trying to live a respectable life he can be proud of.
But has his time as a leg-breaker made him corrupt beyond redemption?
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, two daughters and pug. He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude). Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.
Running can be emotional. Ask the injured runner how it feels to be on the elliptical stationed behind the row of treadmills and you’re putting yourself at risk for a major @$$ whooping.
On the contrast, approach the runner who, physically spent after crossing the line after a new PR is miraculously able to overcome full lactic acid overload and jump around like a giddy school girl.
Something about all those endorphins coursing through a runner’s veins can sure bring out the emotions. Running just makes everything else feel more ‘real’.
‘Normal people’ can’t quite understand the unique ecstasy experienced after a run that was just ‘on.’ Conversely, ‘normals’ can’t wrap their heads around why a bad run can put you in such a crappy mood. “It’s just a run, right?” they ask scratching their heads. But it’s not…it’s more.
At least it FEELS like more. Running isn’t most of our jobs, it doesn’t make us billionaires, it won’t snuggle us late at night (but we can spoon with our Nike running shoes), but dang-it it sure brings a nice sense of purpose to things.
Running is black and white. It’s a constant when all other things may feel totally off the wall chaotic. It’s about working towards something, watching progress, seeing hard work PAY OFF. Not in the monetary sense, the worth of miles is, as MasterCard can tell us, ‘Priceless.’
I often say running keeps me sane. It’s reliable. You can always count on the run being there, it’s YOU that has to show up.
Injuries are unavoidable, as are set-backs, but eventually the run will be there for you. It’s like the welcome mat that never gets tossed out.
Dealing with the emotional side of running is what tests the HUMAN in us. Struggling with an injury is the greatest test of a runner’s will. But you CAN get thorough it. Just as you CAN persevere through the ‘low’ points in your running career. The sh*tty workouts and despicable races. They have their place…they teach us lessons.
Savor the euphoric moments running will grant you, they are free of charge (well, unless you count the INSANE amount races seem to cost these days!) but more rewarding than anything those green presidents can buy you.
Remember those moments to get you through the brutal stretches of injury rehabbing. With everything, keep your perspective.
Running can sure bring out some strong emotions, like the pregnant women who instantly tear up at a sappy commercial…a runner can’t help but feel moved to cheer like mad, be pumped up on adrenaline, riding the high of motivation upon watching an inspirational feat of a fellow runner. [Heck, it's even okay for you boys to admit that's not just your allergies. ]
Post on the MENTAL survival through an injury.
Post on how being PATIENT with your running wins out.
Post on the highs and lows of running and keeping things in check.
1) Share one of the happiest moments running has brought you.
2) Share one of the lower moments, how did you stay proactive and positive that you WOULD be running again.
3) What’s one of the most inspiring things you’ve seen or heard another runner do that helped motivate you?
If I’m on an easy run I usually get something random stuck in my head. A phrase, a word, the same song lyric running a loop over and over until the run is over. It can sure drive a person mad when it’s of course a song you hate.
Be it as it may, I usually can’t get the lyrics to most songs right anyways, so why not make them up? It all plays in time to the music, I mean that’s all we really care about, right?
“(S)he’s going the distance…(S)he’s going for speeeeed!” Won’t lie, Cake you have my heart and I don’t care what music comes out until the day I die this will forever by my favorite song. It’s not about racecar driving either.
“Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, Child…the track has got a plan for you.” This is a newer one and it comes on the heels of two thoughts: 1) I need to get something other than radio in my car and 2) overplaying a song leads to psychosis. True fact.
Whatever it is looping through your brain to get you through those miles is just fine and dandy. Running couldn’t get any more repetitive…haha…but that’s got to be a part of the reason we love it! Some not so hot things that come with a repetitive motion:
1) Body Adaptation:
The body is sneaky and starts to adapt, meaning if you’re running wonky, with bad form
that just get ingrained in the body’s ‘muscle memory’. Keep practicing a bad habit and over time it will bite you in the bum. Probably literally.
2) Wandering Mind: Having random thoughts through easy runs is totally fine, a nice distraction. But you don’t want to be counting blades of grass during hard repeats at the track.
How do we, as runners, combat these?
1) Muscle Memory Toolbox:
* Check your form, them start improving it. Post with a lot of info HERE
* Find your muscle imbalances and work on improving them. Posts HERE
* Body rehab in the way of stretching and massage. Posts HERE
* Drills and strength work come hand in hand with form work. Check that out HERE.
2) Focused Mind Toolbox:
* When the pain sets in try and zone the heck out. Different from wandering mind and that’s explained HERE.
* Count your stride, breathing, and do a form-check as a means of distracting from the pain AND keeping your mind working WITH your body to get through those intervals.
* Mantras…here is where a short song lyric can help. ‘She’s going for speed’ or make-up your own positive affirmation like, ‘Smooth, strong, powerful’.
* Stay relaxed and don’t try too freaking hard. Crazy, but you can slow yourself down by just trying to force it. So stay relaxed as explained HERE.
Practicing both sets of tools during easy runs is productive, so try and cut that in between making up better lyrics to overly-played songs. Avoid psychosis…plus, don’t all runners just want to be better at, well, running?
1) Name a tool that should be included in the muscle memory toolbox I didn’t include.
2) Name a tool that should be included in the focused mind toolbox I didn’t already name.
3) Favorite pump-up song? Or would you like to re-write some lyrics?
Blog: Cait's Write...
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, strength training
, Add a tag
Running is wrought with the ‘two steps forward, one step backward’ tests and trials. I’d call it logic, but let’s be honest, most runners lost all logic about 5,000 miles ago.
Progress forward is HARD fought, once you’ve been running for awhile it then come in seconds and tenths rather than minutes. Each new PR ushers you into another realm, and in order to break through and run through to that next level it takes more work than before, and the cycle continues.
Eventually you’re working to improve by 1 or 2%, and by that time it takes more than just running harder and running faster. One must run harder and faster of course, but also SMARTER, be more ATTUNED, and then PATIENT.
All that patience sure does wear on a runner’s mindset. Typically we want those rewards, those PR’s NOW…but failing to be patient and look long term usually winds you up either 1) hurt or 2) limited.
* Hurt: By running harder and faster smartly that means allowing the body to recover between those hard and fast workouts. If you don’t recover on your easy days then you start greying the line between HARD and EASY. You might think that going harder more often will help, but in fact you wind up being too tired to really NAIL those hard workouts. A bunch of grey running just leads to a bunch of grey racing, not sharp, quality races and workouts. Well, that is if you don’t wind up injured first. I’ll include overtrained under the hurt category, because watching your times slip really does hurt too.
* Limited: By limited I mean you’re not looking at the BIG picture. To gain those ‘little’ percentages forward means you need to widen your scope beyond just running miles. It means having an actual PLAN, including core work, drills, strength work, stretching, injury prevention techniques, eating better...all those ‘extras’. Running SMARTER means being curious, and learning about all the other ways you can improve in addition to running harder and faster.
The other thing about training is there needs to be a balance between just running MORE and running FASTER. Volume and consistency is important of course, but so is being able to get QUALITY out of those miles.
If you DO care about getting more PR’s (someone asked me, so I’ll explain that as Personal Record) then you need to have a speed component in all that running. Some runners fail to think about running more quality, and get lost in the competition to just run MORE. That’s okay, but if you want to run faster you’ve got to get used to running faster, make sense?
Looking long term and being PATIENT means you can’t have it all, all the time. Get your mileage up to a decent level, but from there focus on getting more QUALITY out of those miles. Speed workouts will hurt, duh, but it’s the kind of thing that us runners are a little crazy about and sickly enjoy. Well, enjoy after they are done.
Stepping forward and back, parallels the HARD and EASY days…let the paces step back so you can recover and then jump forward again.
Stepping forward and back also parallels this disgusting thing called an injury; they are unavoidable to even the most patient runner. Take them in stride, get through them and be prepared to step forward again.
Running steps forward every time you get a new PR or hit better times in your workouts; on the heels will be the times when you take steps back with bad races, off days, and horrendous blow-ups of workouts. They happen…don’t let them derail you…because if you are running SMARTLY you can’t ‘lose’ your fitness after just a bad race, dispute that mental thought, it’s a lie.
Runners often want those gains NOW. But sadly, those gains have to be earned…earned with hard freaking work and loads of patience.
1) Fill in the blanks: I recently took a step forward _________________ and was prepared to take a step backwards __________________________.
2) Fill in the blank: I really want to run faster NOW, but looking long term I recently incorporated __________________ to get faster, the payoffs may take a little time.
3) When an injury DOES crop up it tests my patience but I get through it and grow as a runner by ___________________________.
Running is tough. Racing is tougher…downright painful. The brain has a funny little way of dealing with that pain, it gets sneaky and tries to coax us into slowing down.
Runner Brain: “I want to run a PR, dang this hurts, but I’m going to put the work in and stick this out.”
Annoying Tired Brain: “Well, fine, if you’re not going to listen to my complaints and willingly slow down I’ll just find other ways to trick you into it!”
Oh the brain, you slippery little eel, you.
* Self-Defeatist Thoughts: This would be when you’re running and your mind starts screaming in your ear, “You seriously can’t keep this pace up for any longer.”
* Dwelling on the Future: This is when your mind has on repeat, “Umm, and HOW much further do you think you’re going to be forcing me to do this? Think again buster, you CAN’T last that many miles more!”
* Bargaining: When your runner brain and your
sane tired brain get into a war, your lame-o brain argues, “C’mon, just ease up a little, trust me you’re not going to feel guilty or regretful about it, just ease up.” This is also known as a lie, because your runner brain knows you’ll feel regretful.
* Wandering: This is when your brain full-on goes on vacation, if you catch yourself mid-race thinking, “Wow, I really like the zebra print on that lady’s shirt, you see her, the one sitting on the 20th row of in the stands.”
A Wandering Mind = A Slowing Body
See, when the mind decides to check-out and wander like that what inevitably ends up happening is the pace starts to lag. Running through pain takes a special kind of focus, focus on forcing yourself to relax, to keep pushing, to stay ENGAGED in the race.
When your mind wanders it is sneakily distracting you from the
battle race at hand. My latest article at Competitor.com is all about staying focused during a race so you then, race your best: “Got a Wandering Mind? Here’s How to Stop It”
Read the article, but I’d like to add that a wandering mind is much different from zoning out during a race.
Aww, c’mon, I’m only joking…kinda.
I’ve talked about how zoning out is a mental trick to pushing through the pain. Zoning out:
* Locked Eyes Ahead:
Find a runner ahead of you, stare at a single spot on their back and refuse to let any distance open up between you and the spot.
* Breathing and Form:
When you zone out you think only of the tangibles you can control and NOT the pain from lactic acid. Thinking about standing tall, keeping your form in check,
and breathing controlled are all tangibles to think of.
* Think Relaxed:
When you zone out you want to let go of any tension;
don’t have your fists and jaw clenched, don’t have your shoulders in your ears.
Finally, zoning out is the epitome of being ENGAGED in the race, you’re single-mindedly in it.
A wandering mind is where you’re brain is anywhere but in the race. It is, in reality, just a backwards trick that your tiring brain is using to get you to slow down.
Don’t fall for it. Running often comes down to mentally ‘beating’ your own brain. Push past the pain, get through those intervals, drive for the finish line, and stay present in your race…because THAT is how you improve as a runner. THAT is how you set those wonderful PR’s.
1) What is an example of a trick your brain has tried on you to get you to slow down?
2) How do you one-up that slippery little eel of a complaining tired brain?
3) What is an aspect of zoning out? How do you stay zoned during a race and stay ENGAGED throughout?
Unless you’re racing on a track, there’s SOME kind of terrain you’ll need to be prepared for come gun-time. Even during track season athletes have much to gain from varying the terrain on their workouts.
- Power and Speed: Hills build strength and when taken to flats that translates to speed. That same kind of logic applies to doing repeats on grass, the times may be ‘slower’ but you’re working harder and building strength.
- Injury Prevention: Running on softer, more forgiving surfaces helps reduce impact and thus lowers your chances for injuries in the long-term.
- Diversity: Running is a very repetitive action and mostly only working in a single, horizontal plane. At least by varying things slightly you’re able to give your body a bit of diversity; if you fail to do this, smaller muscles get weak and imbalances become injuries in waiting.
Those are all general reasons why mixing up your running terrain is a good idea, but if you know your actual race course will have key elements you’ll need to be prepared for, it’s even more important to introduce those same obstacles in training.
- Uphill Repeats: It take power to get up those hills; including uphill repeats into your routine may seem like an obvious but not all runners actually DO hill work, or they don’t mix-up the kind of work that they do. Think of hills in a three-pronged approach, similar to your regular running workouts. 1) Do 100-200 meter hill bursts, allow for full recovery between each repeat; this is your speed session for the week. 2) Longer, 600-1600 meter hill repeats for your endurance-focused interval sessions. You could also do tempo runs uphill (on a treadmill set on a grade if you don’t have an actual course). 3) Including rolling hills into your easy days ‘sneaks’ hill work in.
- Downhill Repeats: Many can overlook just how taxing a lot of downhill on your race course can be. If your race has a significant amount of downhills (Hello, Boston Marathon!), be sure to get used to running on the decline; your quads will be working even if you don’t ‘feel it’ right away. You can include some downhill repeats in your training; just be careful in terms of injury because downhill running does increase the forceful pounding of running.
- Form: Running hills makes it even more important to have good form; when running uphill maintain the same effort that you would but decrease your stride length. When running downhill, make sure that you’re not tensing up and causing yourself to ‘brake;’ rather, relax and let the momentum of the decline help do some of the work for you.
- Ankles and lower legs: Trail running is about as diverse as running can get, twists, turns, awkward foot-plants aplenty. Here is where you need to be sure your ankles and feet are used to landing in various positions. The way to do that is, well, running trails, taking turns, and including mobility work outside of running.
- Core and Mobility: To reduce your risk for injury when running, you want to have a strong core, be flexible, and have as much range of motion as possible. Schedule time for strength training, dynamic stretching, and drills; not only will it help safeguard you against injuries it will improve your running performance.
Tracks, Roads and the Elements
- Tangents: Some math logic here, but running longer adds more time to your race results. Road races are measured off of the shortest possible marked distance, so look for those tangents and don’t run wider around turns than you have to. On the track, unless you’re going to be boxed in, do your best to not needlessly wander into outer lanes.
- Drafting: Even on the calmest of days drafting makes a difference, mentally it’s much ‘easier’ to sit behind someone else and let them do the work. If it’s especially windy, find a body and tuck in behind them!
- Weather Conditions: The conditions of race day can make a HUGE difference in your performance; not only should you take these into consideration for your race-day pacing goals but train in the same kind of conditions. For cold races be extra certain you do a full warm-up to make sure your muscles are properly warm and ready to hit those faster paces.
Until the day that all races are held on treadmills, runners should be mixing up the terrain of their workouts and runs. By tailoring your training to your specific race course you’ll be setting yourself up for even better results. And hey, who doesn’t want to run that much faster and have a bit of an edge over their competition?
1) How do you train for your course? If it’s for the track, how do you add diversity to your workouts?
2) Do you prefer road races, track races, cross-country, or trail races?
3) How do you plan, adapt, or prepare for various weather conditions?
In MY version of fairy tales, the princesses all run, with names like Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. In my comic books the heros wear Dri-FIT racing gear, they don’t need pseudo-names, Dathan Ritzenhein and Meb Keflezighi will do just fine. The truth is in ‘normal people’ land that’s more than enough to fly under the radar mostly unnoticed. The pap’s are too tied up stalking Honey Boo Boo.
Running princesses are sweet but an epic force on the track. Steely eyed mid-repeat, tough as nails. So don’t confuse sweet and nice with damsel in distress, heck, if a runner dude is tanking mid-run they best keep looking over their shoulder because they very will may be passed.
Perhaps the power of the running superheros isn’t so much super strength, super endurance, or super speed, it’s just guts, grit, and the ability to push themselves harder than any sane person would. MENTAL strength is something you can’t teach, or quite explain, that’s what makes it all the more alluring and admirable.
So little girls, don’t dress up in doily dresses, but opt for Tempo Shorts…trust me, there are plenty of fun colors. Little boys, you don’t need to steal your sister’s tights and find a cape, micro-fiber running tights will do just fine.
Runners are, by definition alone, super heros and the most kick@$$ kinds of princesses.
1) When you were a kid, what was your favorite kind of character?
I won’t lie, I was obsessed with wanting to be a mermaid. Ariel and that movie Splash were on constant repeat.
2) What is a way you’ve felt like a kind of super hero in your running experience or journey?
3) What do you feel is a kind of super power that is possessed by runners?
I’ll say the people with the most mental tenacity win in my book.
For runners the weekends usually mean two things: races and long runs. In honor of the first I’ve brought you a little running cartoon.
Okay, okay, I’m not suggesting we all become snarky, “I just kicked your butt” runners…or, well maybe I am. How about I want you all to go out there and kick@$$ but let’s keep the majority of the snarky comments in our heads??
Oh, even better, you can bring all your runner snark here and let it out!
Go, run, kick some butt!
Racing ultimately comes down to an inward battle, it’s a matter of MENTALLY pushing further than what your body is ‘telling’ you it is capable of. HERE, HERE, and HERE are all posts relating to improving your mental toughness.
More cartoons and my Runner’s Strip comic HERE!
1) Pick a race distance, and where does the real pain start to set in?
I’ll pick a 5k…that first mile really is deceptively ‘easy’…second mile you start to feel it, then BAM if you were ‘stupid’ that first mile, you REALLY feel it that third. The last .12 then is lost in a fog of, “Where is that darn finish line?!”
2) If you have a race on Saturday, do you come back with a long run on Sunday? Or how do you work a long run in, if you do?
I suggest, depending on how hard the race was, you either do a longer cool-down and make Saturday the double-duty race/long run day. Or if it’s early in the season long run on Sunday after race.
3) What does your running weekend look like?
For an injured runner, the HARDEST part of recovery is all mental. Okay, yes, there will be the cross-training, the physical therapy, any necessary strengthening exercises, stretches, icing, massage, etc…that stuff is never easy but the TORTURE is all mental.
Strip the miles from a runner and they feel naked. Half of themselves. A shell. The mentality a runner takes and holds throughout their recovery will either make them stronger or cripple them.
Running is wrought with highs and lows, injuries are unavoidable, as are the lows. Retaining sanity entails keeping the right perspective during the lows and the crappy injuries…because an injury never comes at a ‘good’ time.
I just wrote an article for Competitor.com: “The Mental Side of Recovery”. Do read it but what I’ve said time and time again is that a positive outlook allows an injured runner to 1) be proactive in their recovery 2) gather the strength to keep moving forward 3) makes them even tougher when they do get back to running.
* Staying Productive: Hey, cross-training does suck; but it’s the medicine we suck down. It feels overwhelming imagining yourself ellipticalling away for months, so DON’T. Think of making it through this single workout and that’s it. Deal with this moment before you tackle the next.
* Money in the Bank: Doing that cross-training makes a world of difference when you get back to regular training. You can bust out some dang hard workouts on a cross-trainer; remember EFFORT is what counts.
* Appreciation: These injuries should give you a renewed appreciation for healthy running. When you eventually DO get back to regular training, when you catch yourself feeling ‘greedy’ take a moment to remember that your running is NEVER a given. Also remember on the days you’re thinking about wimping out on those 400′s, remember the hours spent on the elliptical where you thought, “Gosh, I can’t WAIT for the day I can tear it up on the track!” Then…follow through on that.
* The Key to Staying Positive: Faking it. Laughing. Laughing at yourself. Making light of the current suckiness of the situation. Do it. Because it does suck, but turn the suckiness into an ironic, sarcastic, snarky joke rather than let it build into a depressive black hole that sucks you in.
* Runner Mentality: It’s always easy to keep working hard when things are going right. Injuries and the tough stuff is what tests us; an injury is one of the greatest MENTAL tests of a runner.
Will you let it break you? Don’t, because it’s an opportunity to PROVE how much of a runner you are, you’ll get back to your miles. You will again feel like ‘yourself’…even better, instead of a shell you’ll be all that much stronger than the pervious you.
There are more tips in the Competitor article.
Need to laugh at suckiness? Here are some opportunities.
It’s not all just laughs and giggles, but finding motivation from others helps too. HERE are some motivational posts to revisit.
1) What’s the worst and longest injury you’ve ever had?
2) How did going through that injury make you stronger?
Appreciation for running…hands down.
3) What are you grateful for about your last run?
After running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in New Orleans Shalane Flanagan Tweeted something all runners can relate to, “Running PR’s are fun!”
Succinct. To. The. Point.
Flanagan followed it up in THIS Competitor
recap with, “I think anytime you can run a personal best, that’s something special. You can’t take those for granted.”
So true. The thing with PR’s is they become quite rare. Elusive like that unicorn that poops out gold
They are especially rare as you improve and get faster. Sure, you start running and the improvement curve is such that you could lop minutes off of successive 5k’s like it’s nothing. That incentive to keep stepping up your game becomes more enticing, you cross the line fresh off of your last PR and think, “Okay, bring on the NEXT!”
From there the PR’s probably still come, but they are in shorter intervals, no longer full minutes. They become more hard fought, you must start reaching into new levels of mental toughness. You get more calloused as a runner both physically and mentally.
It then gets to the point where those PR’s stick for awhile. Weeks, months, years maybe. Funny how much HARDER you must FIGHT and PUSH for single seconds. Tenths of a second. Hundredths even. Regardless of level, elite or mortals of the world, everyone is fighting for those dang seconds.
Time hangs in the balance, the irony is that as you watch the clock tick down as you barrel for the home stretch on the cusp of what could be a new PR, the seconds FEEL excruciatingly long but they seem to TICK OFF much too quickly. Will you make it to the line in time?
Then there are the days when you know you are a much better runner than the ‘old’ you. It’s been awhile since you dusted off that PR and it’s high time you smash the crap out of it. THOSE races are da## exciting. Running for the finish line you don’t even have to plead or bargain with the clock. You just know.
Those days are what make all that hard stuff worth it. Though the rewards can be tauntingly bittersweet as they don’t come often enough for the distance runner. But it’s okay, you can’t feel too bad for us, because if you STICK IT OUT and then greet that next PR the feeling makes it totally worth it.
Because like Flanagan summed up in a mere four words is quite true and need no further elaboration, “Running PR’s is fun!”
1) Finish the sentence: Running PR’s is…
2) Try to quantify the level of exertion one second of a PR takes to a long-standing PR compared to the minutes you can lop off when you first start.
Hmmm, because I’m the famous mathematician that I am I will say it’s five times the cubed rate of seven factorial.
3) Is there a distance you haven’t raced yet and looking forward to setting a newbie PR streak?
At Stephen's Lighthouse
today, he links to Kitty Pope's list of what makes a great library worker. I couldn't agree with Kitty's point more:
- Inquisitive life-long learner
- Team Playing
- Be positive
- Believe people are good
- Make a difference in the lives of patrons
- Understand and embrace change
I would add: honesty. What else?
It’s probably runner elitist of me, but if someone’s not a distance runner and they complain about being tired, I can’t help the little voice in my brain from thinking, “Okay, they’re tired gauge isn’t the same.” Oops, my snark is showing.
Distance runners, I’ll open the umbrella to include endurance athletes in general, work off of a totally different spectrum of tired. In fact, we really don’t even START the barometer below a 5 or 6, we’re living in a constant, chronic tired level where ‘normal’ people would probably complain.
Above that, a 7 or 8 would encompass darn near every easy run. Those post-hard workout ‘easy’ runs would certainly kiss the 10 realm.
We run into an issue at 10; you see, there isn’t a real definite cap to this barometer for a few reasons: 1) breaking through to a new level of mental toughness always redefines what we constitute as tired/painful/hard, “Holy crap, now THAT was certainly the most pain I’ve endured…I didn’t know I could go that far!”
2) Distance runners have learned to cope with our sport by lying to ourselves. Part of those lies include denial: “I’m really not THAT tired”, “I can totally keep going, this is nothing”.
After 10 we sort of force ourselves numb…we don’t quantify the tired scale to numbers because it’s best to just NOT know, am I right? Distance runners bury their heads in the sand in terms of ‘tired’…of course we know we’re tired, but more often than not we aren’t going to complain unless it’s at a near cataclysmic level…or we finish the workout.
Is this the most healthy thing? No, not always, there is that fine line between being tough enough to workout and race, and then being SMART enough to recognize it’s best to actually cut yourself a break. Of course there is always that line.
However, even with that ‘smart line’ intact, distance runners need to have a different tired/pain scale than ‘normal people’. If not, well, we’d all just be picking daisies out there and wiping the Cheetos residue from our fingers. [It should be noted that both are perfectly fine, AFTER you've gotten your run in for the day...lol.]
Don’t let the ‘wrong’ kind of tired lag on too long, low iron is one instance of the WRONG TIRED level: Get checked if you think something’s off.
A coach is also there to talk ‘smart sense’ into runners if they notice over-fatigue.
Don’t discount the easy days either…make a marked difference between your hard workout days and recovery runs. If not, you won’t be recovering and then you won’t be able to get the quality you want from those hard workouts!
1) Let your runner snark show, in terms of a tired scale and pain tolerance, do you think runners have a different one than ‘normal’ people?
2) What do you rate the ‘base’ level tired is for just the regular recovery and easy runs? To a certain point we’re always working, at least to discomfort, no?
3) How do you then decide between ‘push through it’ tired and ‘I need to back off/reassess’ tired?
It usually comes with learning lessons the hard way, sadly. That said, everyone is different and a whole part of running is learning to read your own body; you take advice from others and then it does take some tweaking to figure out how it best applies to yourself.
After my last post I think we can all agree that distance runners have a warped perception of tired. Muting out the body constantly telling us, “I’m tired, can we stop please?” is all part of our sport.
Run-Up Grill…not serving any wussies.
However, that post
also touched on the ‘sanity line’ and runners sometimes having trouble tuning BACK into what feeling tired really means.
There’s a difference between telling your brain to ‘shove it’ in order to push through that last interval and then straight up digging yourself into a hole and being a glutton for punishment. Runners often see admitting they are tired as a sign of weakness.
Like so many other things in our sport, here is yet another ambiguity. Pushing enough, but not too much. Training hard, but not too hard. Doing more, but no, not too much. Sheesh, there seems to never be a definite answer! The truth is, it usually comes down to knowing yourself. With running, a whole part of the process is learning to read your body, be more attuned to it than the average person. To sense things others wouldn’t even notice. To a runner, a slight 5% dip in how you feel is magnified because that may translate to a 40% drop in how you feel when you’re actually running, when you want to PERFORM. We’ll call it the performance magnification…to the Average Joe, they may not notice that 5% because they’re not doing anything to where that margin is an issue.
If you’re in training mode, it’s fairly normal that your ‘easy days’ sort of sound like a contradiction. Or at least the recovery runs after a hard workout. Still, you go easy and come back strong a few days later. However, if you notice a prolonged period where every run is feeling like you’re pulling bricks
something may need to be adjusted. A few days, normal, a few weeks…not.
* No Snap: If your hard workouts FEEL harder than the paces should, and you’re running above the effort level for multiple workouts/weeks then something may be off. Here it is often a case of going too hard on your recovery days and not being fully recovered for the days that matter: the HARD workouts.
* All Day: Running fatigue is usually normal, but there is that kind of bone marrow deep tired that lasts all day and is more intense, obviously, when you try to run, that indicates a problem. Here it’s smart to get some blood work and check to see if there is a medical issue, like low iron.
DIG OUT OF THE HOLE
Be a runner down to the bones, but don’t be bone-tired.
It usually takes us stubborn runners LONGER than it should to finally admit that we are tired and something needs to be adjusted. It’s always easier to catch it earlier, because it makes turning things around a LOT easier.
* Easy Days: Make sure those easy days you REALLY make the effort easy, forget about the pace and run for effort. It’s honestly amazing how many people could turn things around or be better if they took their easy days easier…that allows you to get more quality out of your hard sessions and THOSE are the workouts that count come race day.
* Regroup: If you’re flat for workouts, take a few more recovery days. A small step back early isn’t going to cost you that much if it gets you out of the hole and back on track.
* A Break: The deeper the hole, sometimes a full break is necessary. A break should come after a really hard, intense season or race anyways. If you peaked much too early in the season and you’re nose-diving, maybe just take a break and regroup for next season. HERE is my article on peaking too early.
* A Mini-Break: Sometimes you don’t need a full two weeks or ten days off, mini-breaks lasting a few days, or at least a few days of just really backing off or cutting your mileage and intensity, can work some mini-miracles.
So yea, runners can ignore tired like it’s nobody’s business. I’m proud of that, you should be too…because we can push past what most people would even bother with. It makes us better runners, and better people, I believe too.
However, as with all the other running ambiguities, it’s important to be able to tune BACK into tired when you’re, well, too tired…lol.
1) Finish the sentence: I’m proud that as a runner I can push through pain and fatigue, one time I pushed through to a new level of pain was…
2) Finish this sentence: I’m proud that as a runner, I realized it was NOT mentally weak to admit I was tired and I…
3) What is one way you have dug out of the hole of fatigue?
Runners, when the bunhuggers come out it’s GO time.
People not in the sport of track and field, or non-runners, have asked, “Why in the world would you want to run in those?!” I’ve heard little kids giggle and balk, “She’s running in her underwear!” Even body conscious women have sneered, “Oh, look at her, who does she think she is?”
Let me explain…bunhuggers are not
* worn in an attempt to steal your boyfriend.
* meant as some kind of ‘in your face, runners are HOT and we know it!’ statement.
Think of running in bunhuggers like running in your spikes.
You know the second you slip your feet into those spikes, lace them up, and head to the line it’s RACE TIME.
I’m sure there is the element of wind resistance, and yes, bunhuggers are comfortable. Trust me, there is nothing worse than racing with a wedgie…or running with shorts that bunch up in the front. My friend used to have a term for ‘those’ kinds of shorts, “My thighs eat them.”
A large part of racing is mental. Part of distinguishing a RACE from any other run is making it FEEL different. The energy, the electric buzz of the spectators, the nerves, the excitement, the competition, all of the feed into the race atmosphere.
Running your warm-up is just as much physically preparing your body as it is MENTALLY prepping you, getting into the zone.
When you kick off those bulky training shoes and slip on the spikes, you FEEL the race coming. As you strip off those sweats to the bunhuggers underneath you SENSE it…it’s almost here.
Run that final stride, poised and set at the line, it’s ON!
“Look good, feel good.”
1) Female runners, what do you prefer to race in? Do you run in bunhuggers, or have you?
2) On the other side, have you made fun of the bunhuggers? Do you find them silly, and not understand why people would run in them?
3) Guys, men get teased for the shorty running shorts in general. What style shorts do you prefer? What do you say to the dorks who make fun of running shorts?
4) What is a part of your ‘process’ in amping up for a race? What is something that makes you FEEL like it’s race time?
View Next 25 Posts
If you’re going to do something, why not make it epic? This quote has been running through my mind lately; 1) I’m working on a pretty exciting project, stay tuned for details and 2) It also has to do with THIS cartoon and the story behind it..sorry, Mo, I stole your word!
But back to the quote, and going for epic. Perhaps I should edit it to say: “If you’re going to do something, why not TRY and make it epic.”
Because the truth of the matter is you very well may not wind up making it all the way to epic. I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic. Some people would argue that quote is setting people up for disappointment, “If I’m never going to run in the Olympics, be the best in the world, or set a World Record, then where is the point in all this training?”
True, most people won’t ever set a National or World Record, they won’t come home with a Gold Medal. But the thing is, I’ll guarantee you that you’ll run and set a Personal Record at some point…probably more.
Insert obligatory eye-roll here. But let me continue. The people who don’t at least TRY for epic really are just afraid to step out of their comfort zone. Their comfort zone is safe, it ensure they won’t really fail, it also ensure they probably really won’t excel…they’ll just be nice, safe, *gasp* mediocre. Now, mediocre is totally OKAY, nothing wrong with it at all. But the thing is, if you’re NOT okay with mediocre, you’re always welcomed to TRY for epic.
Running is awesome because it is a sport where anyone can improve with hard work, grit, determination, and self-motivation. The feelings of PR’s and knowing you pushed yourself to new limits are indescribably self-fulfilling. The feeling of KILLING it in a track workout or race are, in a word, epic.
Why not shoot for epic?
Define epic…it is greatness, it is awesomeness, it is rewarding, it is awes-freaking-tastic. But all of those can be different for different people. You see, epic doesn’t have to be defined as setting a World Record or being a total flop of a failure. YOUR epic may be realizing that you much stronger, faster, fitter, mentally stronger than your ‘mind’ told you that you were.
Quite honestly, you may wind up short along the way. A goal you don’t hit, eventually you will set your last PR…*single tear*. When you hit the climax, what the heck happens if you DON’T hit what, in your mind, was your ‘epic’?
You would be allowed to be disappointed. But I GUARANTEE you that you’re much higher up on the ‘epic scale’ than when you started. Running and training your @$$ off, you maybe didn’t hit the pinnacle you wanted, but dang-nam-it you improved.
You didn’t sit at mediocre. You TRIED.
If you’re going to do something, give it your all. If you truly want it, believe in it, and you find it rewarding…TRY for epic.
What holds most people back? Ultimately fear. Right behind it a lack of motivation…lol.
But I think fear is the root of it. Fear of the work it would take. Fear of failure. Fear you’re not good enough. Fear you’re not as good as you think you are…aha…that one!
That brings up the question: Would you rather stay at mediocre but live with the assumption that if you DID try then you would be awesome OR go out on a limb and try, then be faced with the reality that you didn’t quite measure up? Going with the first one will keep you in the safety bubble of mediocre.
Don’t let insecurities, fear, failures, hard work, REALLY hard work [umm, trust me, track workouts need a whole new word for REALLY. HARD. WORK.], and set-backs rob you from trying for YOUR epic.
Be different, test yourself, push yourself, be unique, FIND YOUR epic. Hell, go run.
1) Define what ‘epic’ would be for you? Pick a goal, it doesn’t necessarily have to be running related.
2) Define what falling short of that epic would mean to you?
Sure it sucks, but we CAN cope with sucky.
3) What has been something that’s held you back from getting to your epic, or holding you back from TRYING for your epic?