"It's not the beginning or the end of a race that counts, It's what
happens in between." - Unknown
Hi guys - Now we're getting into some serious high cotton with our training. Last week, our Sunday Mercedes Marathon group hit 17 miles for the first time. That's a huge accomplishment. You all are doing great and have to be thinking to yourselves "hey, I think I can do this". I know, it still seems like a long way and all I can tell you is that it always seems like a long way. I don't know if it makes you feel better or not, but I still get nervous when the training gets serious and I start asking the question "What the heck am I doing?".There has to be some fear built in to instill the desire to get out there day after day. I hate to hear some of you guys still saying "I'm not a real runner, but...". Then you go out and knock off two hours of running (speed has absolutely NOTHING to do with it!!). George Sheehan once said "The difference between a runner and a jogger is an entry blank". I'm not sure I agree with that, but I do agree when he said "We are all athletes. Some of us are in training and some are not". So, the point is when you absolutely, positively have made the commitment to run the race, then it's time to hunker down and train seriously. If you don't follow a schedule, or if you just don't have the spark to succeed, then the handwriting is on the road - the odds of achieving your goal are pretty slim, but if you're confident that you're putting in the effort, that your schedule is built to allow you to climb that mountain, and if you truly believe in yourself, well then, put it in drive and GO!
You know, Yogi Berra once said "Baseball is 50% physical and 90% mental". I think most goals are somewhere around that ratio. When I made the jump from marathons to ultramarathons, I was a nervous wreck, but I followed the training schedule religiously (praying a lot) and found the biggest hurdle to jump was realizing that I could do this. You change your focus. I think one of the truest aspects of endurance success or failure is the SELF-FULFILLED PROPHECY. There's a quote I like that says "Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can't, you are probably right". Most of the time the reason you run out of gas of a race at 6.2 miles or 13.1 miles, or 26.2 miles, is because your mind knows THAT is the end. You're programmed to think that. Running a marathon, or 50 miles, or 100 miles is Yogi's "90%". When asked "How the heck do you run 50 miles?', I usually say "You know how you feel at 20 miles of a marathon? Well, that's how you feel at 35 miles of a 50 miler". The 26 mile point is no different from any other mile marker because the mind has set 50 miles as the finish. When that gun goes off, 99% of us are dueling against ourselves, not the other competitors. Running is not a team sport. You're out there on your own, so how do you sway the odds in your favor?
Well, mentally, you have to eliminate all negative thoughts and try not to be surrounded by folks that just complain all the time about how terrible their running is. Man, I wonder why some of these folks come out. Before they even begin, they've completely talked themselves out of any good effort. Your perception and thoughts lead to a change in feelings which then direct your actions. When your thoughts are negative, either before or during a run, you may become anxious or emotional and your performance starts a downward spiral that looks like one of those World War I bi-planes going down in one of those old war movies. In training, you need to work on your positive thoughts because it's less of a "pressure" situation - you're running with a group, the run is easy, and if your run goes down the toilet, there's always tomorrow. Talk to yourself in positive ways - in training, you can judge every situation that occurs, whether it be good or bad, in a conscious or subconscious way. I've told many of you that I believe your body learns something from EVERY run you do. Sometimes, it may learn NEVER to do a run like that again, but it learns something! So, if you go out too fast or eat a Big Mac before you run or try to do a 17 miler after being out all night, whatever - you take that situation and realize that it was a bad run because of something YOU had control over. Tell yourself "I'm trained to run a good run, I'm strong.". BECAUSE YOU ARE! Mentally, program yourself to believe you are ready to achieve your goal NOW. Think in the present, not in the future. You will improve physically every week, but you have to mentally believe that you are a trained long distance athlete. In the next couple of weeks, I'll talk about visualization and how the mind and body are so well connected that it sometimes can't distinguish what is real and what is imagined. If you keep saying "I CAN do this", and believing it, you've come a long way to shortening that distance to the finish line. Think like an athlete, act like an athlete, believe you are an athlete!!
OK, if you train on Sundays with us PAY ATTENTION - we will meet tomorrow downtown at Boutwell Auditorium (20th St & 8th Ave North). Valarie McLean is arranging to open the lobby so we'll have a warm start/finish. We are going to run one loop (13.1 miles) of the Mercedes course. Those of you training for the half will run to the 7 mile mark with us to Five Points and turn left on 20th street straight back to the start for 8.7 miles. You can view the map at www.mercedesmarathon.com
That's the show for this week guys. Hope all your training is going well, but remember, if it's not, send me an email and we'll figure it out (I'll read a book or something before answering). Meanwhile, I'll see you on the roads - AL
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