Hmm… races or training runs…

Distance: 13 mi

Time: 1:54:37

So, if I extend this time out by about a minute and a half to add the extra “.1” into it, this is still a PR for me at this distance.  This is obviously a good thing, but I think what makes it really something to be proud of is the fact that this was just a training run.

What I mean is, I think that it is much harder to break PRs in training that it is during a race.  The only motivation you have is just to run faster.  In a race, there is adrenaline, other runners to focus on and pace with, the crowd, the thrill of a finish line…  These things have always made it easier for me to push myself.  Where I lose motivation and focus is on those long, lonely training runs.  Sure, I could run with someone, but that is sometimes more of a distraction than anything.  Because if they aren’t in the same place as you, mentally or physically, that day, you are always making corrections for where they are, be that too slow OR too fast.  At some point, you HAVE to see what you can do… alone.  I think that is a part of what makes running so great for me.  I beat my half marathon PR by 3 minutes today… alone.  On countless occasions in the past I have missed that time and I always know why.  Either I lost focus and slowed down (a REAL bad habit I have) or something wasn’t right and the stars and planets didn’t align for me that day.

So I set out today with one goal in mind.  Beat my PR for this distance.  It is easy to get distracted over a longer distance like a half marathon so that was one of my objectives.  Stay on task…  Stay focused.  Now you have to understand that I have the attention span of a goldfish, so any squirrel, leaf, shadow, etc. is fascinating for me and before I know it I have forgotten to check my splits for several miles.  Oh and, by the way, this doesn’t happen to me on race days.  I just suck at practice!

Today I battled through an adorable little lab puppy that was loose on the trail and followed me for almost a half mile, a 40 foot branch that decided to come down darn near on top of me (what is it with me and falling trees?  Is there some deeper meaning there?), a raging debate I had with myself over whether a bird I saw was a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker (it was a Downy…), and a host of other little “what were we talking about?” thoughts.

I seemed to tire out about mile 9 and had to back off a bit for a mile or two, but my last two splits were under 9 minutes, so I finished strong.  My ankle is more sore than I would have hoped, but I still think it will be fine.  It handled the mileage ok, it just started protesting when I stopped.

This week will be longer distances with the group and then a gloriously short run on Saturday as a part of my mini taper practice… thingy…  I’ll let you know how it goes…!

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4 Responses to Hmm… races or training runs…

  1. tom says:

    Bob, if you suck at practice and still came up with that PR, you’re in top shape.

    Focus is a huge part of executing any long race particularly a marathon. The mind is doing so much work during a race that it’s easy to be distracted–from stimulus and fatigue. Even in large marathons I’ve blown right past mile markers.

    Be confident that your fitness level is so strong and you’ll hit your goals on race day!

    Amy and I enjoy your posts, and I thoroughly enjoy your musings about nature too. Wish I had the environment you have to run in.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Congrats on your PR! I think it’s great that you can establish a PR while running alone. I also keep a section in my training log that is titled “My Best Runs” and once in a long while, I get the motivation to try to beat one of them. It’s a great way to learn to keep focus and motivation during training. Thanks for the great post and good luck with the rest of your training.

  3. First, I admire your dedication. Ignoring puppies is beyond my commitment level! Great job on the PR. I think it is easier to maintain focus in a training run, without the distractions of trying to stay out of the way of faster runners while dodging slower runners and walkers. I sometimes tire around mile 9 or 10, and find that having a Gu around mile 8 helps. For a long race, I might go with a Marathon bar. If I’m in New Orleans, I have beer on ice. They pass it out around mile 10. Yum!

  4. kam says:

    it is very hard to stay motivated on long runs

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