Friday, November 8, 2013

The mental game.

In my head, I am a chubby, slow person. My trip from "I want to run a marathon" to "I want to qualify for Boston" has been quick. Too quick for me at times. My mind is nowhere near where my body is. When I see a mile split with a 7 in front of it- even during a 5K, I still think that I am going way too fast and I'm going to blow up (In a recent 5K I ran a mile in 6:53. My head spun even more at that one). I have run literally a dozen workouts with multiple miles at sub-8 pace. Why won't my mind catch up to my body?

This causes a lot of self-doubt. A whole lot. Going into Steamtown I was feeling normal taper crazies and I felt slow and heavy. That caused me to lower my goal from BQ (way back in September) to sub-3:45  earlier this month, to maybe sub-4 right before the race. I lowered all my expectations. As a result, I ran the whole race conservatively and had a wonderful time, but I also probably could have BQ'ed that day had I put any thought into my splits. It wasn't even within my realm of possibility.
Fear of failure = don't even try.

So now I'm a month out from another race that I registered for specifically for the chance to BQ. NO PRESSURE. Just $100 registration fee for nothing but a chance to reach a major milestone. I am doubting myself again. What if Steamtown was a fluke? What if I'm not a 3:3X marathoner, but I'm really the same 4:50 marathoner I was 2 years ago? What if this race is a huge disappointment? Every slightly tough mile and slow split  in training just keeps reinforcing this.

A big part of running is mental, of course, but I can quickly turn a mental struggle into a physical one. If I'm feeling self-doubt, suddenly the minor pain in my leg/arm/whatever feels 100X worse. If I'm feeling self-doubt, suddenly the 2 extra taper pounds I'm lugging around my waist feel like 20. If I'm feeling self-doubt, suddenly I get a mental image of myself that looks identical to 2009 me, who was... let's just say, not the sleekest/fastest person. 

I honestly have no idea what to do about this. I can look on paper, at real numbers, and see evidence that I'm not as slow as I think I am. Hard numbers should be sufficient, right? But they're not.

I wish I had a plan I could put into Excel and check off some boxes, and solve this, but this is bigger than just NCR. This is the same part of my brain that's surprised when I don't need a size 12 pant or when I am able to stop myself from bingeing on candy. This is the part of my brain that compares myself to other girls and tries to figure out if I'm thinner than them. This sounds horribly bitchy and shallow, but my brain is horribly bitchy and shallow... I try and be better than this but I'm not there yet. I lack confidence in pretty much everything, so the BQ is no different. Let's just hope I can keep those doubting voices quiet for 3:34:59 (or less!) on November 30. 

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