"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Emotional Training

It's not the physical preparation for races that gets me, nor the intellectual planning. It's getting ready emotionally.

This morning, I was writing up my planned workouts through early March and thinking, "These are tough, but doable. I'm pretty much there already, except for low mileage due to bad weather (it's -25, Celsius or, with wind chill, Fahrenheit). Then I saw that I'd somehow miscounted how many weeks there were until race time! Panic sets in. "I'm four weeks behind where I'm supposed to be!" Then I see that pages of my training log have stuck together and I was right all along. 12 weeks and counting.

My first race each year is usually my best, because it's low-key preparation for what I'm really aiming to do; when the big race comes, I haven't slept for days and I'm so jittery that, when the gun goes off, nerves propel me out too fast.

Last fall, I was saying that I was in horrible condition and could probably run the Chippewa 50K in 7 hours and that reasonable training would get me to 5:30. A month ago, after training seemed to be going well, I appeared to be in 5:00 shape. Now, after a number of good weeks of training, I'm at... 5:00. Not improving. All that work and I'm getting nowhere. Then it occurs to me that I'm increasing the odds of finishing under 5:00, though not improving my expected finish time - so not exactly spinning my wheels, after all.

Then I start thinking about how 5:00 at Chippewa is about like running a marathon at 8 minutes per mile (3:30 finish). And a 3:30 marathon for me is about like a 6:30 mile; and my training says I could be running a mile well under 6:00. That 6 minutes, working back the other way, puts me at 4:30 for Chippewa, which is in contention for winning my age division. When the weather improves, I should be able to improve that extra one minute per mile. Except... running indoors, I'm running 10 miles at 8 minutes per mile and it feels like marathon pace, not an easy training pace. So... I'm back to 5:00.

That's how you go crazy trying to prepare. 5:00 is excellent - better than I could've hoped just a few months ago. 5:00 is terrible - a pace not worth doing. 5:00 is great - faster than I've ever run on that course. 5:00 is awful - more than an hour behind the leaders and where I was 5 years ago.

It looks like the cold weather may be coming to an early close, starting this weekend. Tomorrow, I have a hard long run planned, which I have to do late in the afternoon to take advantage of a 20 degree warm-up. I'm worried about how it will go - on Tuesday, I stopped early during a hard workout, where I'd planned to run 6x1200 and only did 4. But then again, the last time I did that workout, I only did 3... so I'm improving.

So it goes. I need the weather to improve so I can run, rather than fret.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

5 would be pretty solid on the Chippewa 50km course. Remember the first year when I directed it and just about everyone could have used snowshoes. Like a herd of deer in deep snow working as a whole to parasite off the one in front in hopes of packing down snow. I think that is why the yearlings always trail the mother from my extensive observations sitting in a tree stand for hours on end.