Saturday, August 27, 2011

Breaking Through Mental Barriers

Friday night in my workout I ran a 4:49 1600. That's the fastest mile I've ever ran in practice. It's a mere 15 seconds slower than my personal record. Had I had some company I could have probably ran a 3000m personal best. That pace has never felt that easy for me before. What that means is that I'm in shape relative to the kind of shape that I have been in in the past, specifically for the 5k distance kind of events.

The problem is that instead of doing two more miles at that pace I mentally wore myself out thinking about the fact that I ran a 4:49 and stumbled through two 800s before calling the workout quits. I have high goals for myself. I would like to be able to run that kind of 1600m interval six times in a workout, it is just that actually getting to the level where I can throw down that kind of pace for that length of time comfortably is a shock. It is taking me some time to adjust to the fact that I am that fast of runner. I dreamt about running this kind of pace in a workout and then I do it and all of a sudden I have to adjust the other workouts I do to be in line with the kind of shape that I am in. Of course running is nonlinear, I feel great one day and a week later I feel terrible. You have to tack into the wind you can not sail strait into it.

I have at least one 5k coming up Labor Day, and I will probably do a few open 8k cross country races this fall and I just registered for the Des Moine Half Marathon October 16th. I used to think of personal records in terms of seconds and maybe 10 or 15 seconds in any given race, but now, am I in shape to PR by a minute in the 5k? Perhaps that is a long shot, but 30 seconds? I probably have that locked up right?

The best part of all of this, aside from the obvious 3k/5k PR shape that I am in and the implications for a future 10k PR is that this was nearly 30 seconds per mile faster than I need to race my marathon in December. Marathon pace has to feel slow. It is still hard work, and it will obviously not feel slow as I do workouts, but on race day I have to be able to cruise the first 2/3 of the race or at least the first half of the race feeling like 5:18 is slow. One of the best ways I can think of doing that is running 4:xx mile pace in workouts and hopefully in some shorter distance races.

Friday was a nice workout. For me to succeed at my goals this fall I will have to have a number of nice mental breakthrough workouts and mental breakthrough races. Physically I can progress very fast, I need to allow myself mentally to progress as fast as I am able physically. Fortunately, I am getting closer to the goals.

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