"Meb won Boston by 11 seconds. Let that sink in for a minute. Over the course of 26.2 miles, he held off a charge from Wilson Chebet, one of the World's best marathoners, by 11 seconds. Had Meb averaged a mere half a second slower per mile he would've lost and this wonderful story would never have happened...Very few of you who are reading this are trying to win the Boston Marathon, but I know you have your own goals and they mean something. They really do. Meb said winning Boston made his career 110% complete. I suspect you all have that time, that place, that accomplishment that would make you completely satisfied with your running resume' (qualifying for Boston for example!). But where are your 11 seconds? What do you have to do to make sure your Wilson Chebet doesn't catch you from behind?"
-Ben Rosario, McMillan and Northern Arizona Elite coachCoach Bill sent Ben's blog post out in our weekly email and I really enjoyed it.
It's a short read if you have the time, but the summary of it is this: Meb put in countless miles running, hours of stretching/rolling/massage, years of watching his diet, etc and drew upon all of those things to achieve his goal of winning at Boston. The little things he did daily, over a long period of time, mattered. Greatly.
|Meb winning Boston. Incredible. (Photo credit: nydailynews.com)|
But what if he hadn't done those things? What if he had blown off runs? Not watched his diet? Not prioritized sleep and recovery? Would he have won without the incredible discipline in all aspects of his running?
Now of course, Meb is a professional, and the rest of us mere mortals are not. All of us are willing to sacrifice varying degrees of our lives to our athletic pursuits. What I'm willing to do, someone else may not be, and vice versa.
And yet many of us still have our own goals as mentioned above. Maybe it's completing a 50-miler, snagging a BQ, or finishing a 5k without walking.
So, what little things could hold us back from hitting those goals? Diet? Snooze bar? Blowing off scheduled workouts because it's hot/you're tired/just don't feel like it (not injury)?
This gave me pause for a few minutes.
What is my "11 Seconds" list? What do I blow off instead of consistently working on to reach my running goals?
With Chicago as the next big race, my list is not long, but has given me trouble in the past:
- Focus on one workout at a time
- Stay positive
- Trust my training: believe I can execute what my training is preparing me to do.
Got it. Can I go run now?
Except that I now believe they do matter, and that I need more practice at them. Running is physical and mental.
I'm tired of getting to the starting line of the marathon riddled with the overwhelming feeling of "How am I supposed to do this?" The training has shown me what I'm capable of achieving, but I struggle to believe it. Over and over again.
Now part of that is a healthy respect for the marathon distance itself, but I think another large part is because I don't practice staying positive in my training. As cheesy as it sounds, every workout brings with it an opportunity to practice reframing your thoughts about the task at hand.
For example, instead of dwelling on how I'm about the suffer in the heat of a track workout, I've been reframing it as an opportunity to get stronger. Break up the task, don't think too hard, relax, and go.
I asked my friend and running mentor Dave, who has himself run crazy fast marathon times, how he approached his races. He was not just finishing, but had the talent to win. That's some pressure!
Did he ever get anxious thinking about running near 5 min/miles (good grief!!) for such a long time?
"Not really", he said, "I knew from my training what I was capable of doing."
"So basically you trusted your training?" I said.
And without any hesitation on his part, "Yes."
Coach Bill told me the same thing when he said something to the effect of "It doesn't matter if I think you can run x:xx. YOU have to believe it".
|Guilty...(photo credit: Shelby Currie on Pinterest)|
Where the mind goes, the body follows, assuming reasonable goals of course.
So, the list is short for now, but it's a little abstract. I don't have metrics to track my mental toughness, and yet I know I need to practice it daily to avoid going to another start line lacking confidence.
My internal pep-talks before a run now go something like (depending on what kind of workout I'm doing):
- One day at a time. One workout at a time.
- Today is not about pace, so enjoy an easy run, or
- Today is about pace, I won't be 100% rested, but I can still do this workout.
- This training session moves me closer to my goal, it is not meant to prove I've already arrived (learned this the hard way following a bad workout!)
- No negatives. Break this up into manageable chunks.
What about you, what's on your 11 Second list?