How do you keep your head in the game?

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kaybee
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How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby kaybee » Tue May 15, 2012 8:38 am

Not sure why I feel compelled to post this. Maybe I am not being honest with myself, but I don't think so.

To explain, this past Sunday was my 13th marathon (includes one 50k). I am 49 and have been to Boston twice (2009 & 2011). However, I have not been under 4:00 since Nov. 2009 (how I managed to get into Boston in 2011). I figured I had reached my potential speed wise and decided to try to run longer, hence the 50k this past October. Did most of the runs training for that on my own and quite slow (LSD pace 7:00 min/km) but I was okay with that. I had no time goal for the 50k and enjoyed the experience very much. Ultras are a different and I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere there. I did have a good run in Boston 2011 but had not run a marathon since them.

I am doing the Niagara 50k in June and, on the way, have to do two 42k training runs. I decided one would be the Sudbury marathon. My training was going so well with times similar to when I was in BQ and PB training cycles so I decided I would race this (6 weeks out from the 50k) and then do an easy 42k LSD 3 weeks before the 50k. I decided to pace for 3:56 (previous PB 3:56:30ish in Nov 2009). I also decided to do something different and run it steady from the beginning since it was going to be sunny and warm, as opposed to banking time like I usually do :oops: . Long story short, I was just under pace at the half way (1:58:14) but the second half (course is 2 loops) went off the rails - almost immediately. I ran through the start area, waved to my family, and shortly thereafter hit one of the many rollers on this course and, from then on, started to lose speed.

The funny thing is, I knew I was slowing down but I didn't care! It was warming up and I just did not want to push and feel the discomfort I knew would come with that. I have to say it was warm but I don't think it was unmanageable (sunny, 19C when I finished, but low humidity). I was well trained. I went back and forth in my head how I would feel having to explain to others (and my coaches at our track group) my crappy time but I still didn't care. Could not get motivated. I knew a BQ (sub 3:55) was not in the cards and, anyway, we are doing something else next spring that would preclude that even if I did manage to qualify. I could not even get myself to push to use it as a character building run (we are planning to do the Two Oceans 56k (hilly) next march in South Africa). Bottom line, in my mind, I didn't have a reason to push. Then what was I doing there in the first place?

I ran the second half in 2:17:46 (6:32 pace versus 5:36 first half) and finished in 4:16. I never felt physically bad at any point and my legs feel pretty good the last two days. The weird thing is my finishing time does not bother me. But I think it should. I am bothered that I basically just gave up because I did not want to feel uncomfortable and am wondering if I will ever get my "mental" back in races. I know I will have to if I am going to finish Two Oceans in the time limit. That is what I am most worried about. The good thing is I am still enjoying running very much and I did enjoy the Sudbury marathon even though it became kind of a non-entity.

Anybody else ever been in the situation where you have lost your drive in races? What did you do about it?

Thanks for "listening".

Karen

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Jwolf
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How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Jwolf » Tue May 15, 2012 8:48 am

Why should the finish time bother you? You finished another marathon! Not a small feat. Even as part of an ultra-training program. Nothing is guaranteed in marathoning and each one is uniquely challenging, so celebrate the finish. :)

When you knew you wouldn't make sub-4:00 or a BQ, you knew that 4:01 vs 4:30 made no difference mentally - so you let yourself relax and just enjoy the race. Nothing wrong with that. You'll feel differently in the ultra that has the time cutoffs I'm sure.

As we get older the PBs and the fast times get harder and harder to hit so we have to run for different reasons. Some people just stop, others choose to run for joy. The latter is my plan.
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phorunner
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby phorunner » Tue May 15, 2012 8:55 am

Mississauga Half this year.

To say it all went wrong mid race isn't quite right.

-I woke up about an hour late.
-Missed Breakfast
-Waited in line at timmie's drive through about 15 minutes (I was the 2nd CAR!!!!)
-Got to the window and they were out of muffins

But I was determined to fight through and do it anyways. I remembered last year that I had to stop for a break, so I decided to try to get that out of the way pre-race.

-I get into the corral, and realize I still have my wallet, keys and cell phone in my pocket. Luckly I was able to hand it off to a friend as I crossed the start line. I thought for a second that maybe things were about to turn around
-Could only find the continuous 2:00 pace bunny, so I tried to keep them in an eyeshot and bank some time by getting a little ahead during my runs
-2 washroom breaks mid race, with lines, lost about 10 mins there...
-Garmin dies at 18km
-Motivation dies at 18.001km. It hit me like a sack of bricks.

It wasn't any one of those things, it was those things all together. A man can only take so much. Oh well, looks like I'm going to have to wait until Sept/Oct to make up for it.

The upside is I was still 2 mins faster than last year. Small victories I guess...

2012 Bread and Honey 5k: 27:30
2012 Harry Rosen 8k: 45:20
2012 SL10k: 52:55
2013 Army Run: 1:58:49
2011 Midsummer's Night Run 15k: 1:35:17
2013 ATB 30k - Coming up!
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Mark.AU
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Mark.AU » Tue May 15, 2012 11:11 am

Because you are focused on the 50k and the marathon didn't matter - even if you came up with an ad hoc plan to BQ - it still didn't matter.
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Jo-Jo
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Jo-Jo » Tue May 15, 2012 11:20 am

Mark 2.0 wrote:Because you are focused on the 50k and the marathon didn't matter - even if you came up with an ad hoc plan to BQ - it still didn't matter.



Agree.

Well...I remember once time I lost my drive in a race....I sat down on the curb and planned to DNF but a Maniac came over and kicked me in the butt...and made me get back on the course :lol: :lol:
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Robinandamelia » Tue May 15, 2012 12:08 pm

Mark 2.0 wrote:Because you are focused on the 50k and the marathon didn't matter - even if you came up with an ad hoc plan to BQ - it still didn't matter.


I think this makes sense. It is hard sometimes, to stay mentally focused in a race. I've had that dilemma. That I think is harder then the running itself.

kaybee
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby kaybee » Tue May 15, 2012 1:07 pm

I think you guys are right. I could not come up with a reason that was good enough at the time to bother pushing myself that hard. It was a conscious decision. I guess I am disturbed at how easy the decision was to make at the time. The real test will be whether I can keep my focus in the 50k - not that the finishing time will matter, but that I can stay in it mentally throughout.

JWolf I totally agree with you about running for joy. Even now running continues to bring me new things.

Thanks everyone. Hopefully I will be able to report that I hung in there for the 50K.

Karen

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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby HCcD » Tue May 15, 2012 1:12 pm

I could have sworn that I went through this and wrote this thread myself, Karen, in regards to my recent Vancouver Marathon ...

eta: You coming out to join us on Thursday at BP for 7:30pm ??? :shifty: :wink:
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Tue May 15, 2012 2:18 pm

You will definitely hang in there. Just don't judge yourself. :D
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kaybee
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby kaybee » Tue May 15, 2012 3:10 pm

HCcD wrote:eta: You coming out to join us on Thursday at BP for 7:30pm ??? :shifty: :wink:


That sounds like a good idea, Andy. I was debating whether to go or not since I am obviously not going to do a track workout but was planning on a short easy run. I'll run it by Chris and if he is game (I am sure he will be), we will be there and join you guys at BP.

UltraSpirit wrote:You will definitely hang in there. Just don't judge yourself. :D

Thanks, UltraSpirit. I have read many of your posts and admire your grit.

Karen

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Size5
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Size5 » Tue May 15, 2012 9:05 pm

Mark 2.0 wrote:Because you are focused on the 50k and the marathon didn't matter - even if you came up with an ad hoc plan to BQ - it still didn't matter.

This! Wow I'm about to agree with Mark..... Write this down folks.

I have run my share of ultras and I've run a few marathons. To me, they are quite different. Ultras have a different focus. The trail/course can make it about finishing. You thought you could go out and hammer a certain time if you suffered a little but really, have you done any training for speed? Have you done anything to mentally prepare yourself for that? Ultra prep is about preparing yourself to continue on even if it gets tough. It never got tough, you just kept running. What is wrong witht that? You haven't lost your mental, you shifted your focus.... There is a big difference.
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Mark.AU » Wed May 16, 2012 4:45 am

Size5 wrote:
Mark 2.0 wrote:Because you are focused on the 50k and the marathon didn't matter - even if you came up with an ad hoc plan to BQ - it still didn't matter.

This! Wow I'm about to agree with Mark..... Write this down folks.

:lol: a sign of impending apocalypse! :D
"It's now very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fcuking what."

Stephen Fry.

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HCcD
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby HCcD » Wed May 16, 2012 7:39 am

In addition to what others have said ... Someone once said, "If you chase two rabbits, both will escape" ... If you put your efforts and energy into trying to fulfill two (2) goals at the same time, you won’t succeed in either one.

Having said that, in my case, with regards to my recent years of marathon training/running/racing, I have also had multiple races on the go, in my head, and perhaps "not being in the present / moment" as I am always thinking that, "there is always the next one" if things are not going 100% in the current race, and mentally I tend to "shut it down" ...

I have always said that I love to run the marathon distance, and not necessarily loving to "race" the marathon distance, if you get my drift ....
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kaybee
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby kaybee » Wed May 16, 2012 9:05 am

Size5: I had done lots of speedwork but, you are right, I was not mentally prepared to race this marathon.

HCcD wrote: "not being in the present / moment" as I am always thinking that, "there is always the next one" if things are not going 100% in the current race, and mentally I tend to "shut it down" ...

I have always said that I love to run the marathon distance, and not necessarily loving to "race" the marathon distance, if you get my drift ....


Andy, I think that is 100% applicable to me.

A little perspective helps. Thanks everyone.

Chris and I will see you guys at BP tomorrow night, Andy. I am going to go to the store and do a short easy run then hang out at the track before BP.

Karen

Lightning
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Lightning » Wed May 16, 2012 12:46 pm

kaybee wrote:Size5: I had done lots of speedwork but, you are right, I was not mentally prepared to race this marathon.

HCcD wrote: "not being in the present / moment" as I am always thinking that, "there is always the next one" if things are not going 100% in the current race, and mentally I tend to "shut it down" ...

I have always said that I love to run the marathon distance, and not necessarily loving to "race" the marathon distance, if you get my drift ....


Andy, I think that is 100% applicable to me.

A little perspective helps. Thanks everyone.

Chris and I will see you guys at BP tomorrow night, Andy. I am going to go to the store and do a short easy run then hang out at the track before BP.

Karen



Kaybee, thanks for posting this. I have felt like this since I ran Boston last year. I am totally one of those people who lost motivation..or maybe just like Size5 says, just changed my focus, and have not been able to get my original pre-baby speed back. Admittedly, I do think part of it too is that I have run ten marathons now, qualified for Boston, had a baby and ran a marathon 7 months later, then ran Boston when he was 13 months. Anyone on here knows I am not a bragger so I am not sharing those things to brag, but just to say that in a way, I feel like I have "been there, done that" right now (according to my goals...I know I have not really) and so it is really unimportant to me to push myself, specifically in training. I often feel like I don't care about getting back there enough to push myself, yet I am mad when my race times aren't great. It is odd!
Glad I am not the only one who feels like this. I have zero problems running 5 days per week...like you, I still love it, but just have not been reaching any goals. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. Much appreciated! All the best with your 50k!
Lightning :)

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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby HCcD » Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:24 am

Hey Karen, I guess you were able to find some of your answer this past weekend in Ottawa with your stellar marathon performance, while some of us ... like moi :shifty: is still trying to figure it out ...

While chatting with JR a bit at the post race/clinic at Broadway's .. he basically asked me if ... " I was really interested in Performance results ... " when I brought up my Fall race plans for Montreal and NYC ...

I guess, for me, is that my mental will have to be in the present, on marathon race day, and be willing to leave it all out there on the course, well, metaphorically, rather than literally in my Ottawa experience ... :shifty: :lol: :!: :oops: :oops: ... In other words, I will have to get it out of my head that, there " ... will be a next time ... " and, not back off, or shut it down, so quickly and easily, as I have been doing, as of late ... :shifty:

So, for me, Montreal in September, assuming I am healthy and fit, will be my "A" race of the season, and make New York City Marathon as my end of season Celebration, marking my 30th Marathon in 10 years of marathon training ... :P
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Dstew » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:25 pm

A great discussion and reminder about goals.

When I ran the Calgary marathons in 2005 and 2006, my A, B, C, D goals were qualify for Boston. All of my training, my pre race prep and race strategy was based upon that one and only goal.

Contrast that to last Sunday. I wanted to run a decent time of the 5 K but the main goal was to finish top 3 in my age category. That was based upon gun times so after two kilometers it was clear I was probably not going to catch the guy ahead and had a comfortable lead on the guy behind, I eased off the pace. A pre race thought was with a kilometer to go and if I felt good, I would "sprint" to the finish. But with my main goal all but accomplished, I coasted in and only with a few hundred meters to go that I sprinted.

I have read some interesting psychological articles about this sort of thing and that it is our nature tendency to be as effective and efficient as possible. That our first response is to spend as little energy as possible to accomplish the task so if it becomes very obvious you cannot run sub 4:00, the mind will tell the body to ease it even more. Where there is great success, we are able to overcome for first instincts. When we were hunter gathers, the person who survived was the one who could expend the least amount of energy to get the most amount of food.

Which reminds me of 2006 - a hot day, on pace for a 3:15 marathon or could be if I pushed the last ten kilometers hard. I had the energy but then I started to see some road kill - guys who pushed too hard and without even knowing it, I slowed down as if my mind had made the decision on its own that a personal best was not worth the risk. I was lucky in that a volunteer on a water station, a guy who must have been a marathoner got into my face with 5 K left to go and yelled, FOCUS, FOCUS. If not for him, I am not sure I would have run the 3:19 and made it to Boston once again.

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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby kaybee » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:49 pm

Thanks, Andy, though I don't think I would call my performance stellar. :oops: Given that the weather conditions were good in Ottawa I decided to try for 4:00. I managed to stay with the 4:00 hour bunny until Quebec but I couldn't keep up any more. I finished in 4:03 with about a 5 min positive split. However, the thing I am proud of is that, despite losing one 4:00 hour bunny and then the other 4:00 hour bunny passing me soon after, I did manage to stay in the game mentally. When I think back I think that that was my real goal for Ottawa. I was a bit dismayed how easily I gave up in Sudbury and had decided I wasn't going to do that regardless of how much time I lost. I was going to stay focused until the end. I think the thing that made the difference is I felt very strongly about achieving this goal, moreso than I did about running sub 4:00 in Sudbury.

Dstew, I think what you said: "... it is our nature tendency to be as effective and efficient as possible. That our first response is to spend as little energy as possible to accomplish the task so if it becomes very obvious you cannot run sub 4:00, the mind will tell the body to ease it even more." is very true. I think that, for now, I have to put a specific finishing time out of my head with the goal being to "run the mile I'm in" to the best of my ability. I am sure I will get to practice this at the 50k in Niagara.

Karen

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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:08 pm

I have to put a specific finishing time out of my head with the goal being to "run the mile I'm in" to the best of my ability
This is how I got two sub-4 marathons. I had no goal, I just ran really good for the whole thing. To keep my head in the game, I watch my arms. If the are swinging side to side instead of pumping forward and back, then I'm not in the game.
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Re: How do you keep your head in the game?

Postby Robinandamelia » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:50 am

kaybee wrote:Thanks, Andy, though I don't think I would call my performance stellar. :oops: Given that the weather conditions were good in Ottawa I decided to try for 4:00. I managed to stay with the 4:00 hour bunny until Quebec but I couldn't keep up any more. I finished in 4:03 with about a 5 min positive split. However, the thing I am proud of is that, despite losing one 4:00 hour bunny and then the other 4:00 hour bunny passing me soon after, I did manage to stay in the game mentally. When I think back I think that that was my real goal for Ottawa. I was a bit dismayed how easily I gave up in Sudbury and had decided I wasn't going to do that regardless of how much time I lost. I was going to stay focused until the end. I think the thing that made the difference is I felt very strongly about achieving this goal, moreso than I did about running sub 4:00 in Sudbury.

Dstew, I think what you said: "... it is our nature tendency to be as effective and efficient as possible. That our first response is to spend as little energy as possible to accomplish the task so if it becomes very obvious you cannot run sub 4:00, the mind will tell the body to ease it even more." is very true. I think that, for now, I have to put a specific finishing time out of my head with the goal being to "run the mile I'm in" to the best of my ability. I am sure I will get to practice this at the 50k in Niagara.

Karen


I still think that especially when you are not running with a goal, the loop courses are so much harder to push through. Congrats on Ottawa... I think you did great...2 marathons so close as well! Does that qualify you for Maniac status?


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