I’m finding that so much of running is mental. How can I get through these longer runs in the next few weeks and the actual race on May 2nd?
For regular runs, it helps having chatty friends on longer training days. Music isn’t a bad substitute, and I have friends who can put a movie in and time their treadmill runs that way, or by what’s on TV. But finding someone who runs at a similar pace and who loves to talk is the best distraction. Most serious runners who stick with it start to see long runs as a fun social time — something they want to do every week.
When you have thoughts that take you out of the race, or thoughts about stopping (at some point in nearly every race I want to quit), you need to think about something else. It helps to have some “go to“ strategies to keep you going. Here are some of mine:
Break the race into smaller parts. Start Broad Street knowing what time you want to run each mile in and concentrate only on the mile you are running. If one is too fast, adjust for the next one. As you get farther into the race, run toward landmarks, like an overpass or even just the end of the block.
Catch someone. When you start losing focus, pick someone ahead of you and try to catch them. If you aren’t feeling very good, be sure to pick someone you know you can catch. When you catch them be sure to pass them and pick out your next mark.
Listen to music. Most races frown on iPods, but if you always run with one, be sure to bring it. Even without one, if you start feeling bad, getting “Tonight’s gonna be a good night” stuck in your head will take your mind off of how you feel.
Focus on your form. Late in a long run or race, your shoulders may start to hunch, or you might start to shuffle. Thinking about how your body is moving will take your mind off any late race pains, as well as improve your speed. Focus on relaxing your neck, straightening your back, and looking ahead, not down.
Make post-race plans. Plan something fun to do after the race — like coming to the post-race tailgate — and start thinking about that instead of the run. When running gets really tough, sometimes your last resort is to take your mind off of it any way you can. Think about that outfit you want to buy, how well Halladay will pitch this year, or that guy/gal you can ask out after saying, “Yea, I just ran Broad Street.”