In certain aspects of life, I am a pretty confident person. Some of it comes naturally, some has taken decades to build up and some is still a work in progress. Even though I’ve been an athlete basically my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever been a confident athlete. My tendency toward extreme perfectionism during my ~10 year competitive gymnastics career made me feel like I was never good enough. If something wasn’t perfect, I would get pissed. Like throw my grips, cry and storm off the apparatus pissed. Sometimes that fueled the fire for the next routine or practice and in a sense made me a better gymnast, but other times I just gave up because “it’ll never be as perfect as I want it to be so why bother.”
wish I had another picture of me doing gymnastics, but I don’t
Fast forward to running, which is a little different because I won’t be winning anything anytime soon and don’t compete for a particular team. In other words, I do it because I love it, it’s fun, I like training and the challenge of racing. I’ve enjoyed seeing PRs drop over the years and have definitely gotten more focused in my training, but I don’t think I’m a confident runner. When that pain hits, I’m taken right back to perfectionist gymnastics days. It hurts, the race or workout doesn’t go exactly as planned –> you’re going to fail, may as well slow down and give up.
Obviously, that’s not ideal and something Coach John has been trying to get me to stop by doing more positive self talk. It’s easier said than done, but I think I’m making progress. A big reason is obviously because my training has been going well – I’m hitting workouts I never would have thought of trying. But another reason is that way back in June when we started talking about the marathon, Coach John told me what he thought I was capable of. Like I’ve said before, he’s much smarter than I when it comes to running so I believed him and have basically been doing whatever he tells me to for the past five months.
There have obviously been a lot of moments when I’ve thought maybe John was delusional and totally doubted myself. A lot. But recently I’ve finally started to feel like I can do this thing – marathon goal A, if you will – for real. Not just because I want to (which I obviously do), but because the proof is in the pudding and I’ve had some good workouts.
Saturday’s plan: 20 miles, 8-10 @ MP
I knew this was an important one – the last really long run before NYCM with a whole lotta marathon pace miles in there. Previous MP workouts have gone well, so I went into the run thinking pretty positively.
also I wore tights! It was 37 degrees and freezing when I started the run at ~5:45 a.m.
The results: nailed it. Warmed up for about 8 miles in Central Park before heading to the West Side Highway for the MP miles, and once I got going my mind and body entered The Zone. I locked into a pace slightly faster than 8:10/mile and just went. It was awesome.
Once 8 MP miles were in the bank I decided to go for another 2, which were largely uphill back to the park, up West drive and to the bridle path. During a 2 mile cool-down around the bridle and back to my apartment, I had to look at my Garmin a bunch of times to make sure I had indeed run 20 miles because it went by SO FAST.
20 miles in 2:52, 8:37/mile. I want nothing more than to take a look at the splits, but my Garmin is currently not uploading and driving me slightly insane.
Thoughts: even though training has been going well, I needed this run. I need it now so I can have confidence going into the taper and I’ll sure as hell need it around mile 20 on November 4 to remind me that I can freaking do it.
I guess the “hay is in the barn” now, yes?
Question: What was/is usually your last really long run before tapering for a marathon? How important is it to your confidence levels?