Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What are your mental strategies?

I was thinking about the half marathon Suzie and Chelle are running this weekend and was curious about what your mental strategies are? You know, when the going gets tough and your body is tired physically, how do you manage to continue running? Are there games you play with yourself? Do you have friends or family jump in to run parts with you? What are your strategies for mentally running a distance race?

At Napa last year I broke down mentally. I should have played a game with myself, but instead I let the weather bog me down. I was miserable the entire second half of the marathon and couldn't think of much else except how cold I was, how the rain hadn't let up, how the wind was giving me a fierce beating, etc. I did chat it up (commiserate?) with another runner whom I kept passing and was passed by several times, but it wasn't really enough. In all, it wasn't good and there was no mental strategy employed.

Generally though, I do things like haiku as posted yesterday.

I also will pick people ahead of me and turn the race into "me against them". I then try to catch and pass that person. If successful, I pick another and another.

During the final miles of the Chicago Marathon, I recited the alphabet backwards naming animals that began with those letters. I did this aloud. Zebra, yak...


Suzie Petunia said...

You have an amazing mental capacity while running, Cherl! I'm going to think more about my mental strategies and post more about it later. This is a very interesting and important topic! I feel I would have been a totally different (better) runner in high school if I had had any mental strategies whatsoever!

Chelle said...

The only sure winner I have in my bag 'o' tricks is music. What a crutch. But I am amazed by how I can pick up my pace with the right music combination.

Oh, and I just thought of another one. gummy lifesavers. When I was marathon training I'd take those out and tell myself I could have one after each mile when I was up in the teens. Now that's a sad commentary, folks. Motivated by food even WHILE I'm exercising. : )

I also do the trick of zoning in on a person and trying to pass them in a race (while saying a prayer that they won't pass me further up the road).

I had a very bad marathon experience due to high temperatures and lack of training in the heat. Nothing worked. Not music, not even lifesavers!!! It was disheartening to try so hard to dig deep and still not come with it. bad memory. boo hoo.

Now if I would have known that backwards alphabet trick, well.... would've been a different story. : )

Kids and K9s said...

I mentioned you all on my blog today... you're an inspiration. My "running" is getting netter with each work out. My recovery was much shorter today than days past... oh, will I ever love jogging? (this is my prayer...!) ~ Kim

cherl said...

I did the same thing a few times with gummy worms! I'd allow myself X number of rings per mile marker. So silly, but whatever works to carry you through, right?

JP said...

I've been lurking for a little bit (followed over from suzie's blog) but as a new "runner" I'm really excited to read all of your great knowledge and experience. So...thanks, I really appreciate all that you guys have to offer.

I think I'm also going to have to buy some gummy savers. :)

Polliwog said...

Following several bloggers' links, I have made my way to yours and am SO excited to find you.

I break my run down into mental chunks and count the fractions as they go (like my 18 this week was three 5's and a 3).

Since I've moved across the country and lost all of my running buddies, I will think of each of them individually in the closing miles when it's really tough. I imagine running next to them and picture something they would say. Since there were 5 of them, it gets me through a few minutes. I asked them each for their favorite running tune and plan on adding those to my playlist.

Also, I compare my current run to other recent runs and races, and list all the things I like better about the run I'm on. Sometimes I have to stretch the truth to myself a tad, but it keeps out any negative thinking.

M&M said...

I love chatting with people, even during a race. (Big surprise!) One girl I met at a 30k and we ran about 3/4 of the race together. I got her whole life story and she got mine. We had a great time. Eventually she passed me and we came in a few minutes apart. (She went on to qualify for Boston at her marathon!) I also LOVE my music. I put music on that makes me smile. Mostly, I just keep talking myself through it. I know that if I stop it will be more painful so I keep going!