The Mental Side of Racing

Happy Wednesday, hope you guys are all having a good week!

With the Fast Half being only 2 and a half weeks away at this point, I wanted to do a post on the mental aspects to racing. It’s no surprise that I was disappointed with my results at the Half at the Hamptons. All that work to run the exact same time as my current PR. Yes, there were a lot of factors that made that race a challenge – the wind, the cold, the hills… But when I look back on it all, I realize my thoughts going into the race were essentially along the lines of I’m in the best shape of my life, shiny new PR here I come!

A tiny little part of me thought it was going to be easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was going to have to push, but I think I had kind of forgotten just how hard that would be. I understood conceptually it would be tough and require some serious mental grit, but when it came down to it, I kind of shied away from the pain when I was in the thick of it. I think some part of me thought it was a given that I would PR considering the quality of the training cycle I had put in. But I think it’s safe to say the days of ‘easy’ PRs are gone.

Once I finished wallowing in my disappointment, I immediately began thinking about the next steps to keep that from happening again in a race. Obviously, I can’t control weather and all the external factors at play, but I CAN control and improve on my mental strategy. After some review browsing online, I purchased How Bad Do You Want It by Matt Fitzgerald.

How Bad Do You Want ItIt’s not an instructional manual; it’s more of a series of anecdotes about various athletes who have overcome mental barriers to reach the pinnacle of their sport. He then explains some of the more technical aspects of the coping mechanisms demonstrated. As a psychology nerd, I loved this.

With the Fast Half, I don’t plan to take anything for granted. I know I’m going to have to work. I know that there is a doozy of a hill at Mile 6. Yes, I’ve put in the work and run some great times in workouts, but that doesn’t mean executing on race day is going to feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel easy for me to run a 7:30 mile split in a workout, so why would that feel easy at the end of a 13 mile race??? That’s going to be the time where I am going to HAVE to dig deep. I plan on keeping the disappointment from March close to my heart. I fully plan on letting those frustrations fuel me during the tough times in this race when I have to decide between cruising comfortably and giving it everything I’ve got.

I’ve already put it out there that I want to try to BQ at Philly in November (for my age group, I would need a 3:35 or better). My coach thinks it’s doable, and I have no doubt that my fitness will get there under her training. But the mental toughness has to be there too, especially when we’re talking about 26 miles. It’s something I want to continue to focus on, paying it the same attention I give to my weekly mileage and paces.

Any runners out there have any tips for mental strategies in races?

Do you have any goal races coming up?


What’s Next?

Hello, I’m back again!

When we last left off, I was disappointed in the result at the Half at the Hamptons and pondering next steps. I think I definitely tend to experience a sort of let-down/depression after big races when that feeling of chasing a big goal is over (I distinctly remember feeling this way after my first marathon). It’s easy to feel a little lost when something you have been looking forward to for months comes and goes.

Half at the HamptonsThe one good thing about not hitting my goal at the Hamptons is that I don’t feel like it’s over. I didn’t hit my time so that big exciting goal is still sitting there, waiting for me to catch it. Only a few days after the race, I was searching for another race to give my PR a shot and I’ve settled on one – The Fast Half on May 13th. Can’t beat a name like that, right??

Fast Half | 2 Generations Running

I’m hoping this race really is the flat and fast course it’s advertised as.

I’ve taken the better part of 3 weeks almost completely off (some of that due to travel for my job and not necessarily by intention). Either way, I am well-rested and ready to dive back into some hard workouts again. I want to really focus on my nutrition and mental toughness as I feel like those were areas where I experienced some shortfalls as well.

I’ve got a few other races on the calendar as well that I am SUPER excited for! Coming up in only a few short weeks is the BAA 5k! No Boston Marathon for me this year, but I am really looking forward to being part of the festivities by racing the 5k on Saturday. There are also a bunch of McKirdy Trained athletes running the marathon and I’m excited to finally meet some of these folks in person! Marathon weekend is probably one of the most fun times to be in Boston and I can’t wait!

I’ve got a few smaller 5ks and 10ks that I’m looking at doing in the spring. But the race that I am REALLY excited about is my first international race – Rock n Roll Montreal!!!

Montreal Rock n RollI will be running this race as a Bibrave ambassador and I cannot wait. I’ve never run a Rock n Roll race, but I have heard amazing things. It’s not until the end of September, so anyone who wants to join me has plenty of time to sign up! Code BIBRAVE15 will get you $15 off the half or full marathon. 🙂