Getting back into the long run mindset

Does anyone else talk to themselves while running? Whether it is singing the same song over and over, or actually holding a conversation with myself, running is the best time to just let my mind wander.┬áBut it is not always a pretty a time…

My run yesterday was a nice 9 mile run through Bloomington off of campus. It is a hilly run and pretty chilly, but with the fall colors and numerous dog walkers, I enjoyed the time to myself. Then my watch beeped. My last mile, about 4/5, was close to an 8:30!

OMG! Jess! Come on, that one was slow. Pick it up.

Are you kidding?? Pick it up? Why? As these thoughts fought each other in mind, I realized that my head did now know what I was running for that day. I had to remind myself that once again I was in training for an ULTRA! In less than two months, (last weekend in December) I will be competing in the Huff 50k. Sure it is only a 50k (ha, only…) but it is still another race to train my mind and body for.

It is a 9 mile run. Time no longer matters, it is all about the miles.

Distance, distance, distance! I love training and training long, so why was I still caught up in the pace? These past two weeks I was training with my run club at IU for the NIRCA national race. Though I did okay, racing that 6k is not something I could do often. Sure, it is fun to see how fast my body can go, but running through the Pennsylvania grass, trying to pass a bunch of girls in the last “kick” is nothing like running through the dark with my headlamp on and crossing that anticipated finish line after 9 hours.

Today, I did an easy 7 miler with my Garmin on. Though I did look at my pace each time the device beeped, I did not pay any attention to the numbers. Instead, I focused on the deer crossing in front of me, my running teammate passing me during his daily run, and just enjoying the day. It took some effort, but I managed to steer my thoughts away from pace and into just running.

Hopefully by Sunday my ultra brain will be back to normal. I agreed to run with a friend form home, an ultrarunner who I have never run with before. Despite not knowing how fast or where we will be running, I will know each mile of our 20+ run will be going to my ultra training.

Maybe I should go home and watch Unbreakable again? Yeah, I was going to do that anyway… Maybe just need to kick those road shoes into the closest and tie my trail shoes to my belt.

Either way, my mind better hop on board because my body is ready for some long runnin’!

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From last year to now – the need to believe

The idea for this blog post has been popping into my head for the last week or so, during every run. I do not listen to music, and this past week has been so busy that I have been running by myself, so I have had every run to let my mind wander. And my thoughts keep coming to this; the comparison to my running now to last year’s running performance.

Now, I have only been running for a few years, only having done one half-marathon before 2013. Over the last couple of months I have done 3 marathons, one 50 miler race, and planning on one more race the last weekend of December, a 50k. It has been an incredible summer and fall and I cannot believe that it has all happened in not-even-one year.

But my main thoughts have been sparked by each run this week. Before that though, I have to go back to my Chicago marathon. I was ready for the race, excited to run, but was nervous about my race pace/finish time because I had just ran the 50 miler and was not exact on training between the two races. But as said in my race recap, I had a great race, averaging an 8:07 pace, something I could not even dream about doing. That was first insight into the idea that “maybe I am better than I think I am?”

So, this past week, like during my run on Thursday, these thoughts again crept into my mind. I had run over in the lab doing homework, so I had to rush home to get a run in before the next class. For some reason i had it set in my mind to run 8 miles, nothing more nothing less. With the time constraint I started off hard and never stopped. I was not even thinking about it, but I was flying. It was an easy run, straight on a paved bike trail, and it was a beautiful day outside. Overall, I got in the 8 miles in a little over an hour. Sure it was hard and I was sore and hungry afterwards, but it was a good pace, a pace about 20 seconds faster per mile I would have done last year, or even last Spring. I feel like I jumped from the 8:30 per mile pace down to an 8:00 minute pace, without trying. And I am not sure I believe it?

Then, my run club friends brought me to the track-that circle thing that I usually stay far far away from. The workout, created by a fellow run club runner named Josh, was 6 x 1k’s, which I learned was 2.5 laps around the track that night! Being one of the new runners, I was told to try to hold a 4:30 pace per 1k, based on my last 6k run time. He wasn’t sure what I could hols, and honestly I had no idea either! The first one was difficult, trying to keep up and get my feel on the level, hard ground, with two huge turns always in the same spot. (Umm why do people like that?) But as the second went by, then the third, etc, I got faster, stronger and happier. I was pushing myself, I was no longer fisnihing last, and was having fun. It became dark, and with each lap the boys who had stayed to cheer on the girls were screaming for us.

It was the last one and it was chilly and dark. Katie, the leading runner on the team, just started and the other four girls and I were getting ready. “One more,” said Josh.

My first interval I finished at 4:15. Starting the number 6, my goal was to get down to 4 minutes flat.

I started off with the three girls in front of me, just on their heels during the first lap. Trying to push it with them during the second lap, about 3-4 seconds slipped between us.

“Okay, almost done,” I kept saying to myself. “Just keep going. Push.”

I was rounding the last turn to the finish and pumped my legs. I crossed the “finish line” at 4 flat. I felt fast, and I finally felt like I deserved to be with the fast girls in Run Club and deserved to be their on the track with all these people who have grown up running all their lives.

Being a distance runner, I never had any interest in springing or intervals, but that track workout changed my mind. During the run, with each lap and turn, I felt strong, powerful. I felt the muscles in my legs, each mile I have pushed them to endure during the 50 training, the Chicago marathon and even the easy treadmill run I did the other night. Every cell in my body was alive, through the cold, the pain, and the wind rushing by me. I could feel each pound of my foot onto the ground, and knowing that I had more in me to make them go faster.

I finished that workout and we cooled down around campus, dodging around cars trying to find a spot to park for the IU basketball game. We ran by college students and fans, who proabaly thought, “who are these freaks running around?”

Thinking about it later that night, after a stomach full of Olive Garden breadsticks, I was not expecting to go that fast, again. I was not expecting to do as well as I did, again. Is it me? Should I give myself more credit? Take into account my training, my goals, and my endurance and let myself believe in what my body can do?

This week has really opened my eyes to well, myself. In addition to the daily miles I log each day, I need to work on me, training me on how to believe in myself, my abilities, and believe that my future in running is just beginning.

Has anyone else experienced new insights into themselves or their running? How/ when do you finally start believing in what your bosy is showing you?