Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mental Toughness

Today was REALLY REALLY tough for me... From the second I got out of bed (AT 4:30am) and my feet were achy at the touch of the hard floor... to the COOL down of my afternoon swim...

After having a great training week last week, and a pretty good run/swim Monday, I was surprised by how heavy I felt.. Granted, it's been hot as a you know what here in the desert, but I wasn't expecting to feel so blah all of a sudden.

You know my buddy/trainer/friend Daniel... He's doing CDA with us. The guy has some of the most natural talent of anyone I have ever met. He can bust out 6-6:30min miles in a relay, after pretty much no training. Oh, and on Carls Jr burgers for fuel at 2am...

Have you ever seen anyone so focused?


Focused AND then complete opposite, fun, obnoxious, etc once his run was overwith...

Over the years I've known Daniel, and trained with Daniel he's consistently talked of his mental toughness. How he is so mentally strong in a race, that it literally carries him through anything. Like, how he most recently (re) qualified for Boston at RNR AZ marathon after being sick for 2 weeks... and still not feeling 100% on race day. He knew what he had to do. He started with the 3:15 pacer, and never left his side. With ~ 30 people starting in the group, he was 1-3 finishers.

He didn't look at his watch, his HR, nothing.. he just kept on trucking..

Daniel has also gabbed on about (I say gab, cause that's what he does.. He GABS. Like a GIRL. On the PHONE all the time) certain acquaintances of ours who seem to always bonk... Or something just doesn't go right in their races. He says it's all mental. That they get in their head during these races, and it gets the better of them...

This is an excerpt from one of momo's post's last year... about Daniel. And how he joined us for our peak ride last year.. Even though the last time he rode was several months ago, and it wasn't that far... And he did it. ALL 112 miles plus a brick.

In other news, my group and I did our last LONG, LONG ride this past Saturday. We all had 6:30 on our schedule so we opted for an out and back loop which took us into Fountain Hills, up 9 mile hill, around Cave Creek and north Scottsdale and then back down 9 mile through Fountain Hills home. Considering the way our last few long rides have been going, this one was pretty uneventful. Everyone seemed to feel pretty good, and we even dragged Krista's trainer, Daniel, along for the ride. THE ENTIRE RIDE. The last long ride he did was 2:30. I'm not sure how he felt afterwards since I even dragged him along for my :20 brick run. I'm sure he was pretty tired... Ha! The day ended with 113 miles on my bike and 2 miles on the run. Not a bad day, hm?

Again, another reference to his "mental toughness"...

As much as I hate to admit it... I've used Daniel's words a lot lately... I used them first in my St. George marathon. His advice for the down hills. Tuck and Roll!!! Well, I repeated that OVER and OVER and OVER to myself.. and it worked. I let my legs fly out from under me, and ended up with over a 10min negative split in the marathon....

With all of the Ironman Fatigue I've been thinking a lot about the mental toughness aspect of training. And racing... Although I'm certainly no expert at using it during a race, as I tend to just fade when the going gets tough.. I've been thinking about it all during my workouts lately.

I had a 2:40 run scheduled for today. I took the dogs for an hour which was "ok"... then dropped them off and refueled a little bit before heading out again. As soon as I left my house I felt BLAH, and HEAVY... I looked down and my HR was in the 138-142 range and I was running a 9:15ish pace... I felt like I was giving it all I had, and my legs just weren't MOVING.

As soon as I turned a corner to start a nice 3/4ish mile climb my legs started to give up. I looked down and the pace had slowed to 10:30 ish pace.. HR just as low so I just kept saying to myself it's just the incline.. your legs will get better and you can MOVE faster if you JUST try!!

People, I had this conversation with myself for the next 1:35minutes. I kept thinking of ways to cut the run short... Trying to convince myself that I just didn't have it in me today...

Climbing my normal rolling hills felt like mountains, and I had to work for each and every step of that run. I hadn't been looking at my pace much after the first bit so when I got close to my house and realized I was short on time, I just called it a day (it was only FIVE mins). The good news, even though I felt like a slug, my pace was no slower than normal and my HR significantly lower. While my HR says I could have pushed much harder (easily), my body just didn't agree...

I was proud of myself. Although I did THINK about giving up a lot... I didn't. I made it.. and earned each and every mile and minute I was out there..

Unfortunately the same scenario re-appeared a few hours later at masters. I spent 3800yards thinking about stopping.. thinking about how if I could just make it through the next set, I'd be good..

I thought about the mental toughness, and how what was I going to do on June 22nd. If my arms felt heavy, just give up? NO! So, I got in my head and I pushed through my last set of 5x100 (MS was 20x100) at 2-3 seconds faster than the first set. I was happy. I felt like I finally conquered the giving up monster in my head. Of course it took over 3 hours of tough workouts to get to this point, but I'm going to really really try to think about it more often.

Our bodies can do amazing things. They just need to be properly trained, rested and ready... It's what goes on in our minds that I really do believe now can make or break the day...

So, the next time you are in a tough place, try to think of how strong and amazing you are. How you are doing something that next to no one else can do... Or, if it's a really tough time.. Think of the people you know, and care for that have had their chances taken away, or had the scare that it could someday be taken away.. Think about taking that next step in their honor.. I know I think about this/her A LOT when it gets tough...

9 comments:

Spokane Al said...

You have offered some great advice. Many of us could stand to be a bit tougher mentally, and can if we try.

I will definitely tuck and roll!

momo said...

its all mental, k. you know how it is when both of us are in that place - we can talk eachother out of just about anything. we just need to steer clear of that for at least the next four weeks, because you know, come race week - you will be ON.

and, just fyi... you're just as tough as daniel. the difference is, you just smile when you run. :-) and maybe you're a little slower, but tough? JUST AS MUCH.

Iron Eric said...

Wow. In so many words...Ditto. I know the feeling and we just got to keep moving. Giving up at this point is not an option!

Only 30 days left! Than a nice good break!

brendaj said...

It seems like it was just yesterday that all of you were starting your IM training...and amazing how far you have come!

We just decided to be spectators at CDA, so hopefully we can find you and cheer you on. :)

Fe-lady said...

Glad to hear that others are having some mental tough times out there...I have been having a mentally/physically tough week too. Doing last long ride THIS weekend...would you please tell this wind to go away and stay away? Thanks.
And the fact that you THOUGHT about quitting many times and DIDN'T...well, that tells me what you are made of! :=)

Benson said...

I'd say you just graduated to the next level of toughness.
Well said.
Rock on.

Comm's said...

mental toughness? hmmm??

I'll have to work on that. Sounds like it could be helpful.

:)

Supalinds said...

Great post. You are a pillar of toughness if you ask me.

The fact that you don't stop, keep pushing on says so much about you!

I feel very lucky to toe the line with such an incredibly strong woman!!

Judi said...

Just remember - YOU ARE A BADASS!