Boston Goals: Have Fun, No Pressure

As I alluded to on Monday, my mental mojo this training cycle went into hiding.  I feel great physically…so now I have (less than) 2 weeks to find my mojo and whip it into shape.

I can’t be surprised by the mental burnout.  Let me explain…

I took a year off marathoning in 2009 to get married, buy a house, and go on a long honeymoon. I ran a few HMs but mainly ran for fun and enjoyment. I had 5 marathons under my belt but my training for them wouldn’t be what I considered “intense”.

Fast forward to January 2010 – I register for marathons #6 and 7, ramp up my training intensity and mileage, and try to slowly chip away at my PR in an effort to get closer to qualifying for Boston.

September 11, 2011…I finally BQ after 2 years of hard work. Marathons 6 through 9 were essentially back-to-back…Spring, Fall, Spring, Fall. One training cycle after another. And in between cycles, trying not to lose the speed that I had built up.


While training for Boston, I begin to grow weary of the intensity.  I just want to run!  Not worry about pace!  Two plus years of training for a PR and pressuring myself to PR has left me fried mentally.    

Of course I want to PR in Boston.  But I also want to have fun and put no pressure on myself whatsoever.  

So what does all this rambling mean? Besides I’m a complete headcase and desperately need a break from racing post-Boston?

My Boston goal:

Enjoy the race while running as fast as you can that day :)

Pretty different from my “sub-3:40 or bust” goal a few months ago, huh? “That day” being the key words. Sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you can turn a race that is headed south into a good race and sometimes you can’t.

But whatever I feel on April 16 – good or bad – doesn’t matter. I will have fun no matter what and I’m hoping that by removing the pressure to PR, I may actually PR. Reverse running psychology, right?

Tell me your best I-can’t-believe-I-PR’d stories!  It can be any distance.  I tend to PR unexpectedly in 10-milers.  That’s a good thing, considering I’m running one 3 weeks after Boston (yes, 1 more race!). 

Vortex of Doubt

After a particularly crappy speed session yesterday, I was doubting my ability to even run another 3:43 marathon in Boston, much less a sub-3:40.  Don’t let 1 little run shake your confidence, right?  I totally agree but it’s much beyond 1 run.

Since I started training for Boston, I haven’t made the huge gains in speed that I did in my last training cycle.  And paces that were once easy feel a little bit more labored.  My legs always feel good but my breathing is a little off.

Enter the vortex of doubt.  It started creeping in around Week 2 and now has set up residence in my head (I can’t help but think of the Mucinex commercial where the mucus takes up residence in your lungs).  I feel like doubt is snowballing out of control and taking me with it.  Yep, that’s me.


With 5 1/2 weeks left of training before the taper, I’m making changes.

    • Where did my mental game go?  I really worked on it last cycle but it seems to have fallen by the wayside.  Ironically enough, my friend sent me this article written by Chrissie Wellington yesterday.  She knows a thing or two about mental game Winking smile
    • This is my 3rd training cycle in a row following the FIRST plan.  Although I still believe it’s a great plan, my body may have adjusted and plateaued.  I never really followed it to a T but in the next few weeks I’m going to diverge more from it and do my own thing (more tempo, hill repeats, and progression runs and less track work).
    • Rethink hitting the almighty 60 miles.  I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with hitting a certain number when I know (for marathon training) 55 miles per week is my sweet spot.
    • Remember to have fun.  I am training for Boston!

54 days to go!

I need some new mantras.  What’s your go-to mantra?

Keep It Simple Stupid

3 miles easy / 28:04 / 9:21 avg pace
*And with that, training cycle #9 is complete!

My college chemistry professor always used to say K.I.S.S. or Keep It Simple Stupid.  When answering a test question, he told us the answer (or the way to go about solving it) is usually simple but we often make it more difficult than it needs to be.  The first time he said this in class, I thought he was speaking directly to me since I have a tendency to make things harder than they need to be.

So how does K.I.S.S. apply to my marathon?  It actually applies to my strategy and goal for the race.

Keep my average pace between 8:30 and 8:35.  This is exactly what I did during my 22-miler and it worked out well.  Keeping a more consistent effort throughout is the way to go.  That also means no speeding up and doing 8:20s during the middle miles!  I’ll have a pace band, a usual, but will only use it to compare my total time against a 3:45 marathon time.

I have no A, B, or C goals.  My goal is run a 3:45 and qualify for Boston.   Plain and simple.

Mother Nature is being a bitch again and is bring historic (’s words) flooding to Philly and also the Lehigh Valley area.  To say that I’ve been freaking out about maintaining MP on 12 miles of flooded towpath is an understatement.  The LVM has been great about updating us on course changes.  The latest and greatest:

The LVHN Marathon is scheduled to go as planned.  Due to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, our region has received more than 10 inches of rain in the last 10 days.
*The first five miles of the marathon and relay course have been redesigned to place runners on hard surface roads….
*The race surface will be damp, wet and possibly muddy in some areas.

My guess is about half the marathon runners are attempting to qualify for Boston.  At least I’ll be in good company.

So that’s it my friends.  I’ll post a quick update on Sunday (you can also follow me on Twitter).  Thank you for all the well wishes this week.  I will recall many of them during the race for motivation!

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Mind vs. Legs

Don’t you love when you have an epiphany while running?  My epiphany occurred last week after my 22-miler.  You’ll recall (or maybe not) that I didn’t listen to my mind during my 22-miler, just my Garmin and my legs.  I didn’t want my mind to feed me negative thoughts, tell me to slow down, etc.  So, to the best of my ability, I tuned it out (it’s not easy).   Then came the epiphany:

mind = subjective
legs = objective

OK, let me explain this one.  We all know how powerful the mind is over the body.  And we all know how important your mental game is to an endurance race.  Sometimes it’s more important than your physical training.

During a race, our mind spews negative thoughts and signals our legs to slow down.
Truth:  most of the time, our legs have more gas in the tank than we think.

Before a race, our mind preys on our nervousness and we pace, walk, stretch until go time to make sure our legs are ready.
Truth:  our legs are ready.  And we waste precious energy by pacing, walking, and stretching.

During the taper period, our mind conjures up phantom pains and we begin to think we are injured.
Truth:  you are not injured (it’s the taper crazies!).

The mind seems to be very subjective, don’t you think?  So why do we listen to it?

On the other hand, your legs always tell the real deal.  Ever have one of those runs where you leave the house thinking this will be the run of your life, only to get slapped with a major case of brick legs?  Or sluggish legs?  The legs don’t lie.

Which brings up another question.  How do you distinguish between the two?  Are your legs really tired or is it more mind over body?  During training runs, I think this is simple.  If you’re not having the best run, take a look at your mindset.  Are you feeling meh?  Is your mind somewhere else?  During races, it becomes a tad more difficult since you’re pushing the pace and your legs may be close to exhaustion.  This is the point in most races when people either give up or dig deep.

Come Sunday, I’m digging deep and listening to my legs.  They will be my greatest ally (along with my Garmin).  And my friend Fatigue ;)

Do you agree?  Do you think the mind has more control than we think?  For me personally, I know it does.  It’s way more mental than physical.

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