Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Letting Go

I had my long run on Sunday. I've gotten my attire, shoes, hydration, nutrition, etc. all pretty much worked out so now it's pacing and the mental stuff I'm still working on.

Sunday was a good test for those.

I started slow... and then kept going slow... and just didn't seem to get any faster... and then needed a pee break much earlier than I usually do... so by the time I was an hour in I was seriously behind where I expected to be by then. But still had way too much in front of me to really think about trying to run much faster.

Normally this wouldn't be much of an issue but we had brunch plans with my parents and I had already left the house later than originally planned. And despite having brought my phone I couldn't get in touch with The Dude to let him know I was running late. So, really, it was excellent practice for the marathon - what do I do when there is a time limit (real or mental) and it's looking bad for meeting it?

I was running without headphones so I had plenty of opportunity to watch my thoughts. And I noticed that when I didn't think about the time, I felt "in the flow". It was a beautiful day, I was running through my great city, with lots of varied scenery and people to admire, I could enjoy myself.

When I thought about the time, things felt effortful. I hurt more. I saw less of what was around me.

Friends, I think the lesson here is clear.

But to be honest, I'm not sure I'm ready to completely let go of time goals for the marathon. I want to be ready. I really do. Especially since I'd like to do ultras and trail marathons in the future, and the only way to do that is to move into this different mindset.

So. What to do now? I'll keep running without headphones. I thought about not running with my Garmin at all, but I like how it keeps track of the run/walk intervals. But I can turn off the lap function so it's not quite as easy to obsess over speed. I've got another long run and signed up to do it with a pace group, but I don't need to stay with them. So I guess I have another chance to practice not caring about my speed.

Because I did not have fun with my first marathon and I would like to this time. And I know what I need to do for that... Now I just need to convince myself that's what I really want to do as well.


  1. For my long runs, I used to listen to a book on "tape". For one, it disassociated my pace with any type of music, and let me just get from point to point. It also kept my mind engaged with something other than "when will this be over??"

    I've also used podcasts. Someone else recommended that I throw out my "short run" once a week and make it a timed run- 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back. Again, to blank out the idea of distance and pace.

    Just some thoughts. Good luck!!!

    1. Thanks - I listen to podcasts (Marc Maron mostly) on most of my long runs for exactly that reason. But how to keep from thinking about pace in a race situation? That's what I need to figure out. Thankfully the 20-miler I'm doing "feels" a lot like a race though it isn't, so that will be good practice.

    2. I'm so slow, I have ALWAYS just wanted to finish. I play games with people who pass me by thinking, "heh, you're going fast now, but just wait!! I'm the turtle. You're the rabbit."

      BE the turtle.

  2. I'm trying podcasts and audio books too, but can't seem to find any I LOVE enough to take my mind off the run. I end up defaulting to music again.

    I think enjoying the run is the most important thing. Race day usually makes us faster because of the adrenaline, etc, so I think your time will be fine...But if you're hating every minute...well, for me, that ruins the race.

    I recently turned off the "time" setting on my Nike+, so it records it but doesn't tell me how much time has passed. And wow, what a difference! I agree with you; ignoring the time and just running is the best!

  3. I think these are great suggestions. I will turn off my lap function on my Garmin and will think about some good visualizations I can use to focus on how I want to *feel* while running, rather than the time. Light as a feather, perhaps, rather than stiff as a board (for those of you who remember that slumber party game). But it's true, when I get tense while running I feel stiffer and less fluid and then things hurt more.