Friday, September 24, 2010

Mental Preparation and a Simple Workout

Justin keeps telling me how much fun he is having during my taper phase because he's enjoying the easier pace in workouts. I, on the other hand, am scrambling to find things that will keep my mind relaxed and peaceful. I don't want to waste critical mental energy by putting too much thought into a race. To a normal person, this may sound easy, but to a typical runner, we can all relate as to how hard it is to keep the mind in a calm, confident state. The key is to find a healthy form of mental preparation for a race that does not create a stressful mental state before the race. It's important to consider different scenarios that could unfold and to visualize your goal race, but not to the extent that it begins to stress you out.

During this time, it is critical to remember all the work that has been done to prepare you for the upcoming big event and to maintain the confidence level that you exuded before, during, and after those workouts you've already completed. The key for me in these final weeks is to go into a different mental realm, one in which running is not present. This is to ensure that I do not waste key mental energy before race day is even here; essentially, going into this other realm allows me to conserve all the mental energy that I need for race day. Garrett learned that this mental technique is critical to being a successful athlete from a renowned sport psychologist and so I've tried to implement it into my own routine.

The hardest part is to find what activity will take me into that other realm. It has to be something that you enjoy but that is not physically nor mentally taxing. So far, I've found that reading fiction books and watching mindless TV shows such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are good activities for me right now. Cleaning is another activity that helps keep my mind off of my training or upcoming race. Walking to work is also a meditative moment for me. Obviously, for each person, this activity is going to vary. For instance, Garrett performs Tai Chi. Mike Beigay devotes his time to his daughter. Bernard Lagat plays with his kids. For these athletes, they are practicing mental control every day so that come race day, they can experience a time of solidity, mental toughness, and centeredness. This is the feeling that I hope I can exhibit on Sunday.

Now that I've gone on my soapbox about mental preparation, I'll enlighten you with my second to last workout with Justin Breland. It was a simple fartlek of 7-6-5-4 minutes with half the rest of what you just ran. In the end, we turned it into a version of a progressive workout. The splits were as follows:

7:00 @ 6:00 pace for 1.17 miles (3:00 rest)
6:00 @ 5:55 pace for 1.02 miles (3:00 rest)
5:00 @ 5:50 pace for 0.85 miles (2:00 rest)
4:00 @ 5:50 pace for 0.70 miles

My legs felt good, and my mind felt ready. Only 9 more days until the start!


Matt said...

It's Always Sunny it NOT mindless, Caitlin.

maryanne said...

More of the same: FOCUS was the acronym I would ponder as I ran my master's divisions while you were in high school: Figure Out Caitlin's Unique Strategy.

Just get your sleep and, oh yeah, slay the course, indeed.

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