Sunday, August 4, 2013

Finding Confidence

Saturday: Rest Day (long walk with the dog)
Sunday: Double work out day--10 miles + core work out (back and abs) *Nike Training Club

(Photo from my run this morning)

After every race, I take some time to reflect on my experience of what worked and what did not. I will be competing in my 3rd half marathon, The Wine Country Half Marathon this September. During this cycle of training, I have been focusing on my personal mental struggles. I have periods of true self-doubt during my runs and it drives me crazy. I know that I am capable of working through it but haven't found the perfect trick to use.

This morning I went out for a long distance training run, shooting for 10 miles. The run started out great: clear skies, quiet sidewalks and the sun was out. By mile two, I felt my water belt shifting, the cord of my ear plugs tickling my shoulder and every song on Pandora had a slow beat. I was beyond frustrated. I tried to concentrate on the scenery and ignore all else. The issue became more than that, the heat started getting to me and I felt extremely thirsty as well. I then committed a huge runner's "no-no" and I downed my water bottles before mile 5! This ended in what...? Oh yes, a full, bouncy stomach which made me feel nauseous. It was just an all around frustrating run. I walked several times to adjust my belt, change the radio station and cool down from the heat. I did finish the run but came home feeling defeated that I had to stop and let all of these factors get to me.

Shortly after walking through the door, I sat on my living room floor stretching and evaluating every mile of that run, where did it go wrong and what can I do next time? I realized that I had given in to a mental battle with myself during my distance run this morning. Ironically enough, I came across an article in Competitor Magazine later in the day that spoke to my struggles. Here were some key points I took away from the reading:
"To consistently run well, it’s critical that you have an unwavering belief in your fitness and your race plan." 
 Be Specific And Detailed
When visualizing your race, be as specific and detailed as possible. 

Visualize The Good And The Bad
Likewise, visualize positive and negative scenarios. 

Boost Your Confidence
Another advantage of visualization in training is the opportunity to boost your confidence. It’s been well documented that high confidence correlates to an increased level of performance. By visualizing yourself succeeding, you can subconsciously improve your belief in yourself and your abilities.

To enhance your self-confidence, try implementing self-affirmation and self-talk into your daily routine. Spend 5 minutes each night before bed standing in front of the mirror repeating specific, positive messages to yourself. The mirror helps engage the visual receptors in the brain and helps internalize the positive messages. 

Focus On What You Can Control
We get nervous when we don’t know the outcome of things, like when the killer is going to jump out of the shower in a scary movie or how we’re going to feel half way through the race. Take the focus off those elements of the race you can’t control (your finishing time, your opponents, the weather) and direct them to outcomes you can control.

Taking It Step by Step
First, condition your mind to know that it can run 7:38 pace for 10K. Then, continue to train your mind and body so that same pace eventually becomes manageable for a half marathon. 
 -Competitor Running (for further information, see this link: Learning To Trust Your Training)

I really enjoyed reading this article, especially given the timing! I highlighted these areas of the article that I haven't necessarily tried. Trust in your training is one that I really need to remember. I am very stern about sticking to a training schedule that is well balanced. I believe in my training and know that it works for my body. It's important to remind myself of that when I feel tired throughout the run. I hope to use these tricks this week in my training. I'll keep you all posted on how it works out! 

Every runner has good runs and bad runs. Today, not my best. Tomorrow will be better! I know I can do this. I've run in many successful races and feel confident in my abilities. It's about allowing myself to feel proud of my accomplishments. It's so important. Trust in yourself. We are capable of doing amazing things! Don't let a bad day or a bad run get you down...tomorrow is a new day. Do something for yourself tomorrow!

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