Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sunny Side Up

I got the nicest compliment today. 

I was whining ~ I know right? ~ and my friend said it was OK, because I “always come out on the right side”.  And I chuckled.  The RIGHT side?  Would that be like coming out:

Sunny Side UP?

Seriously though, in marathoning there is A FREAKING LOT to be said about keeping a positive attitude.  If you’re feeling the need to complain about aching feet, consider this… 

The people around you have aching feet too.  But they’re not saying anything about it, because they believe what I believe - speaking about evil makes it stronger.…  And trust me, at mile 20, aching feet are evil.  They’re the base of evil.

The truth is, complaining about hurting feet or the long a** hill or tired legs isn’t really going to do anything useful.  Maybe everyone around you agrees.  Maybe they even say so.  But now you’re a group of runners talking about pain.  That just doesn’t sound that fun to me, to be honest.

Forming a mental image of success?  Now that is a useful way to spend a training run.

Consider this:  I recently did a research project involving guided imagery as pain management in postoperative patients.  Do you know what the excessively boring research indicated?  It works. 

Better than meds.  The patients were instructed to create a mental image of moving without pain.  And, in the 5 different studies I looked at, the success rate was exceptional.  I mean I’m here blogging about it right now because I think there’s something to this.

So keeping your chin up is going to do more than just hold you in good form.  It’s also going to keep the positive energy flowing around you. 

I believe that mental imagery is half the battle. 

I use it all the time in my training.  If I feel my feet shuffling, I expend a little energy imagining that they’re light and swift.  And you know what happened last week when I did that?  My split time for that mile was 9 seconds faster than the mile before it.  When you start getting into those high double digit numbers, that’s a pretty impressive feeling.
I look at the racecourse each time I run it, and I try to embed a positive memory.  For example, the week I ran with Coach Black and we blew from The Diamond up to the Pope Arch, I remember thinking, “This isn’t that long”.  On race day, I’m going to try to remember that it’s not that far from The Diamond to The Arch.

And one week when I was doing a 13 mile run that took me over The Bump on the Blvd in my last mile, and I felt SUPER STRONG, I remember thinking, “it’s the last real bump on the race course, and look, you’re running an X:14 over it right now, so it can’t be that big or steep or scary.”

So as we all go out for a recovery week this weekend, I recommend building a strong positive memory on the run.  It’s an ideal time.  The weather will be cool, like race day (we hope).  And the miles will feel short (ha ha, I caught myself today, “It’s only 12 miles on Sunday, so…”).  Take your light feet and your strong legs, and as you run along the marathon course, make your own positive memory.  You can use it as a base for your mental imagery, or, if you’d rather not use it for that, at least you’ll have something really nice to remember when you reflect on the time you spent with MTT.

~savor the run~

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