With my second half marathon less than 2 months away I achieved double digit miles yesterday in running 10 miles. The irony of the day was that Facebook’s memories notified me of my status posted in 2011 in which I had ran the York Rail Trail 10 miler that day. I raced that in an hour and 31 minutes.
My training run was also on the rail trail but the northern part instead, as well as into John Rudy county park. I ran it in an hour and 42 minutes. While 11 minutes doesn’t seem like that much of a difference to me it was. I kept reminding myself that I couldn’t compare the two; one was an actual race with others running with and against me. That’s how a runner’s mind tends to work though in always comparing oneself against one’s former self.
Physically my training has been going well. The previous week my 9 mile run felt wonderful with my legs seeming to have a mind of their own the last 2 miles. I’m also running two other times during the week and mixing up off days with some mobility, yoga or other 30 min workouts.
Mentally I think I’m at the point where training gets challenging. I’ve often said it’s not that hard to physically run X number of miles, one merely needs to train to do it, but rather it’s the mental drain that is the struggle particularly if one is running alone.
I remember training for my first half marathon. Every Fri. evening after work was my long run and it was always ran by myself. Once I reached the 8-9 mile point of my long runs I became bored. Physically I was fine and could continue to run but mentally I just wasn’t into it anymore. This is one of the reasons I have yet to consider ever running a marathon. I know physically with enough time I could train for it, but how one mentally prepares for those long training runs eludes me.
For me a 5-6 mile run is the perfect distance. It’s challenging enough to be a solid workout but short enough that I can pick up the pace if I feel really good and not fear burnout. Mentally I find that distance to be the best in terms of thinking. I have created to do lists, analyzed dreams, planned out vacation details and written blog entries in my head all while running 5-6 miles. I often come home mentally energized after those runs as they seem to spark the creative juices.
Once I begin to push over 8 miles, however, and particularly once I reach those double digit miles my brain starts to lose focus I can start out clear headed and thinking well, as if my brain thinks it’s on a shorter run, but around mile 8 it begins to falter and get fuzzy. I begin to either jumble thoughts together or repeat thoughts I’ve already had or just straight up brain drain and don’t want to think at all. I can no longer focus on the beauty of the nature around me. “Runner’s high” becomes less frequent and I have to try to distract my mind from thinking about any physical pain I’m feeling less the negative thoughts begin to discourage me from finishing the run.
I know I’m at a pivotal stage in my training. Physically I know I could complete the half marathon even though I plan to get in more long runs before the race in hopes of achieving my race time goal. The challenge is going to be keeping myself mentally focused during my double digit mile training runs. I did it once so I know I can do it again; it’s all in how much I stay focused on the end goal.