Thursday, May 31, 2012

picking yourself up after you've knocked yourself down

Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles in the body.
 Lynn Jennings

Right now I'm 0 for 3 and I've let it eat up my mental game.

Back in April there was a 5k DNF due to some knee issues, then there was the day of my goal half where temps were way too sizzly for my liking that made my goal race pace nearly impossible to execute, and then there is last weekends 10 miler where I mentally checked out for the day after hitting a bit of unexpected wind on the course. Combine these races with the 4 weeks that I battled an uncooperative left knee and my mind is way off of where it was back in March.

Hitting unexpected road blocks is what really separates the men from the boys in racing. Every race we all toe the line where our attitude and mindset has a 100% impact on the outcome for the day. More then likely if you head to a race feeling questionable and doubtful that you are going to achieve your goal, you will probably do just that. I think it's safe to say that all runners deal with the "am I good enough" mind game from time to time, but how do we get over that hump? How do you take that less then exceptional performance and turn it into fuel for the next race?

Stepping up my mental game is where it's at right now. All the physical work is done where I am no different then any competitor that is going to toe the line next Saturday. This race will be 100% mental, and this is how I'm going to get myself there:

spend some time in prayer
Prayer isn't for everyone, but it helps me. Knowing that there will always be a greater purpose then tangible objects and worldly possessions keeps me going. Being thankful for what I have achieved in my life and the blessings that surround me everyday can be often overlooked where entitlement creeps in during times of doubt and trial. While I may not declare to my LORD everyday that I am thankful for a healthy body that is able to move in unthinkable ways, I am eternally grateful for this gift.

Be silent, be still and let the imagination run wild a bit. A smidgen of new found intellectualism will never hurt.

detach from technology and live life
Making new memories always helps weed out the sticky moments in life for me. Backing away from the garmin to cut loose leaving opportunity for some unexpected adventure is what keeps my heart pure and unchained.

let the past go and move forward 
It's challenging to look at a situation that didn't pan out as expected and find value in shortcomings. But you can't change the past, you can only move forward. Letting a race hold you back from future greatness is really silly. Clock time is just a number and there will always be another chance to get after a goal. If every goal and quest that our hearts set out to conquer were unpretentiously achievable, life would be dull and predictable. Sometimes life just has to smack you in the face knocking you on your @$$ to realize whats in front of you.

let it go, let it go, let it go

acknowledge the fear and vulnerability
Only that which scares you will ever make you stronger, and learning how to race like a front pack runner scares the pants off of me. It makes me feel out of my element, exposed, and draws more attention to me then I'd like. Staying in the zone of safety and comfort is always going to be easier where quick splits and PR's will be a rare occurrence. There will always be that little voice inside that says "hey that is one crazy idea...are you sure about that?" when tackling the unknown, but instead of letting it overtake and own my soul I need to acknowledge it and then lay it to rest. Time to embrace the pain like this crazy speedy gal knowing that things in life will never come on my timing.

look back and reflect
Progress...just because you can't hold it in your hands and you can't always see it doesn't mean it's not there. Sometimes you have to thumb back through training logs, blog posts, old medals and race bibs to figure out that you have indeed gotten one step closer to your dreams.

Some good moments and some not so good over the years

5 years ago when I ran my first SF10 miler on a bum knee post Boston Marathon catastrophe of 2008, I finished in 1:18. That is a 12 minute improvement in 5 years.

2008: 1:18:39
2009: 1:12:08
2010: 1:11:55
2011: 1:07:48
2012: 1:06:51

yea, that's progress even if at first thought the 2012 SF10 felt like a bust.

With training you really have got to take a leap of faith and trust all the work that you've put in. The moment you begin to question whether it was too little or too much will be the exact moment you let that little itty-bitty piece of self-derailment being to seem real. There is never a guarantee that a PR will be anxiously awaiting your arrival at the finish line, but if you don't believe that it's possible who will?

put on the big girl pants
Nothing of value in life will ever come easy, so it's time to woman up and tell those voices of self doubt that they don't belong inside my head. I'm a competitor and I can do this.
Every time you get up and get back in the race, one more small piece of you starts to fall into place.
Rascal Flatts 


  1. Thanks so much for the post. I have to sit out a race tonight and the Spartan this weekend and be a "smart" runner. Although it sucks right now - it will pass and I will get to my next goal. Thanks for the reassurance in your post!

  2. I love this post. These are words to live by. I am going through some major frustrations and challenges that have really knocked the wind out of me, so your words of wisdom could not have come at a better time.

  3. love this post! it's everything I try to remind myself of. Especially the progress part. It's hard to remember how far you've come, but so easy to think about how far you still have to go for your goal.

  4. Great post. It's hard to remind yourself of the positive at times but just keep your chin up and you'll get through!

  5. I love your posts, and I love every single point you made - because as you know, what you just described pretty well sums up my entire spring racing as well. and I have come up with just about every single one of those conclusions - with prayer being at the top of my list and the idea of doubt right up there. Keep strengthening that mind. You've got it. I'm going to re-read it now;-)

  6. Love this post!!! Keep thinking positive!

  7. I love you. You are my hero. Every time I need a little burst of sunshine and positivity, you are there LIGHTING UP MY LIFE!

  8. This, my friend, might be my favorite post ever from you! I have definitely had my share of bum knee issues and have used so many of the things you mentioned to get me back on track.

    Thanks so much for these reminders. Good luck!

  9. These are all great points. Very true and very important. My big one is Trust...I find that for me it's very important to trust myself and my abilities because once doubts start creeping in, I'm done.

    Good luck!!

  10. aww thank u for the shout out!
    I know you are SO strong both mentally and will get your head back in the game, and this post is full of great ways to do that! <--LOVE all the ideas!
    I can't read to read all of your future successful race re-caps!
    I hope you've got a great weekend ahead of you!

  11. Love the ideas, especially stepping away from technology. That helps me to remember that I actually enjoy running, even when I'm not trying to get faster!

  12. When you are competing at such a high level you are bound to have a tough spell. I remember the first first years I ran, I PRed every race!! It was such a high. Now you are so super speedy though that little gains take much more time & effort. All the hardwork is inside you though and when the weather/timing is correct you are bound for a huge jump in times.

  13. I love making little comparison charts like that. You have come a long way since 2008. Sometimes its takes several attempts to get the time we know we are capable of. Keep trying!

  14. I just stumbled upon your blog and I am in love. The fact that you are chasing your dreams at 28 is so inspiring. Im 27, stuck in a dead end job I hate and my dream is to work in/own a gym of some sort. You for sure gave me some inspiration to go after what I want in life.

    1. It's never too late to change ANYTHING in your life. Life is too short to continue to go to a job that makes you miserable, and sometimes you have to make your own opportunities.

  15. I love how well thought out this post is. You have made great progress and it is good to remind ourselves of that. Great job with how far you have come and I know you will keep going farther!

  16. true dat to all u said! racing and training hart hurts like a beast and so much is the mental game and putting the big girl panties on when we want/need to. we ALL struggle with it, it's like an ongoing battle. :) don't worry, cuz u've got the perspective and right stuff to where u ARE rocking those panties...sometimes they feel like Pull-Ups and we have weaker days or moments, but u're keeping those in check and gaining that trust in urself to get u that confidence u need to keep on improving. u're wearing full on tighty whities, not Pull-ups. ;)