Thursday, March 10, 2011

Inspiration from Kara Goucher and Mental toughness...

Today's Workout:  15 minutes weights/abs.  First official speed work day.  6 mile repeats with 2 minute walk/jog in between.  It went something like this:
Mile 1:  7:50 pace (warm up)
Mile 2:  6:39 pace, .5 incline
Mile 3:  6:35 pace, .5 incline
Mile 4:  6:35 pace, .5 incline
Mile 5:  6:35 pace, .5 incline
Mile 6:  6:35 pace, no incline
Mile 7:  6:31 pace, no incline
Mile 8:  cool down
As I figured I absolutely LOVED my speed workout.  It wasn't easy at all, in fact it was incredibly challenging but it felt so great to challenge my mental toughness and push myself really hard.   I completely made this plan up on my own with a little help from Google.  Nothing like having my good buddy Google as my handy dandy Running coach.  But in all seriousness I would love feedback and advice from my running friends.  Do you follow any specific speed work guide?  Also how long do you break in between intervals?  Please, please shower me with your knowledge.
Weekly Goal update (2 group classes):  Planning to attend a spin class tomorrow morning.  Since I am racing on Saturday I will use tomorrow as a taper.  I don't normally taper for a 10k but will not pound out my normal Friday 8-10 miles.  Maybe I'll run a few, we will see how my legs feel.
"If I stay mentally strong the whole way through, the numbers will take care of themselves." Kara Goucher on the upcoming Boston Marathon.

I absolutely love this quote from Kara.  You can read the full article here and I stole this from Blue Eyed Runner and you can find here blog Here.

My dad taught me in High School the importance of Mental toughness and I have tried to incorporate his teachings into my running.  I firmly believe that running is 90% mental.  I can read all the running books I can get my hands on, practice every technique under the sun, and train 100 miles a week, but when it comes to racing it almost always comes down to my mental toughness and how mentally prepared I am. 

In my last race I found my mental toughness slipping.  Rather than pushing myself and just running I was caught up in the numbers.  Hitting each mile in 7:30 splits, staying on pace, and not letting my time slip.  Had I not wasted so much energy checking my Garmin every 30 seconds and yelling at myself for not being 'perfect' I would have probably ran better.  But I let my mental toughness slide because I was obsessed with the numbers.  My best races have been when I am mentally strong.   When I feel the strength in my arms as they swiftly sway back and forth, the toughness and courage in my eyes as I keep my head up and focus forward, and the power in my legs.  Sometimes I get caught up in pure amazement that my body is even capable of running these races.

I could not agree more with Kara.   If we know we have put in the time necessary in training, know what we are capable of and can do, and stray mentally strong the numbers will take care of themselves.

What do you guys think and what do you do to stay mentally strong during a tough race?  I am still learning but all I know is that when I look back at my race history the races that I was mentally prepared and felt good mentally the entire time are the races where the numbers are the best. 

*I apologize for the lack of sarcasm and pictures in this post I will try to get back this afternoon with some thoughts on my upcoming races.  Have a fabulous Thursday everyone!  I know mine will be great because my car is running and it is Grey's Anatomy and Private practice night.  :)


  1. I loved this! Mental toughness is definitely where I struggle the most. I also get caught up in the numbers, how far, how fast. When it comes down to it, I really just need to RUN. Just run, and not think about every little thing. So excited to see you this weekend!!

  2. Running is 90% mental. If you aren't mentally there in the run, you aren't going to succeed...and if you do at least make you run you won't enjoy it.

    You are going to rock the 10k this weekend!

  3. I nominated you for an award on my blog!

  4. I think we all struggle with mental toughness at times. The thing that helps me is thinking of the hours that I put into the training and then sit back and trust that it will happen. I have left my watch at home for races and then am pleasantly surprised when I see the finish line clock.
    Your speed work out is awesome! You are in a whole other league, girl! I've heard that you should rest for half the distance or time that you spent on the speed part. I'm no expert, but I've heard that a lot.
    Good luck this weekend!

  5. i am definitely a believer in mental toughness...but sometimes I let it get the best of I am tough to the point of stubbornness and avoid things like pain which then become injuries...oops. But I like that I am learning that mental toughness can be all kinds of training...actually running, preparing yourself mentally for the race, etc. That way...when I race...I know I am ready in all areas even beyond the physical part.

    I usually would do 800s (1/2 mile) jogs in between my speed intervals but that was just because my runner's world plan told me to so I am no expert! AWESOME JOB are amazing!


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