The mind is everything. What you think is what you become.
Track workouts are so damn hard. Of all my workouts, I dread them the most. And despite this, nine times out of ten, they are by far the most rewarding. Typically, I am facing these bad boys on Wednesdays, thus I often look at them as a very large hump that I have to get over in order to take on the rest of my day. Lately, though I've been doing a lot of reading on the power of positive thinking in running and how it impacts your performance. The correlation is no surprise. Get fired up to do the work....you're likely going to crush it. Sit around and procrastinate until you have no choice but to get started....it's probably going to suck. I tend to sit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum as it takes me a while to motivate but once I'm at the track, I get myself pumped up and ready to rock. But even that little window before I get to the track, the hour or so at home when I'm caffeinating, overthinking, and yes, even dreading, takes its toll on me, making it that much harder to mentally get myself there once I'm on the line. So, today I took a different approach. First, I popped out of bed and before I went down to make coffee and let the dog out, I put on my running clothes. I know....whoa. My thought was that if I donned my "uniform" from the start, my mind would automatically switch into go-mode. Next, I pulled out all the gear I would need for my workout. I'd be driving to the track, so instead of throwing this stuff together last minute and likely forgetting something as I tend to do, I got organized ahead of time. Again, clear the mind, focus on the work ahead.
Next, I fueled up. Coffee first and then smoothie (thank you, Jeff). But, instead of just chugging them down, particularly the coffee, I took my time. This stuff was going to help me move faster today and I wanted my body to both appreciate it and get the most out of it. I know, it was a stretch, but I was pulling out all the tricks.
Finally, I headed out for my morning walk with Clover. My neighbor was out across the street and I asked him to take a picture specifically for this post. I'm awake (mostly), I'm smiling, I'm moving, I'm rocking out to music....I'm getting fired up. For, the record, Clover is like this 24/7. If only.
At this point it was about 8:00 and I had an hour to kill before I'd be meeting up with my running partner down at the track. Normally, I'd putz around...do a little laundry, pick up the kids' rooms, check email, but not today. I grabbed my gear and my foam roller and headed down to the track. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and for that I was grateful as we've had about two weeks of rain up until Monday here in the Boston area. I hopped out of my car and went over to the skate park to stretch and roll as I waited for Kirsten.
As planned, she got to the track at 9:00 and I jumped right in and joined her for the last 3 miles of her run, which would be my warmup. Both of us coach high school track and had had big meets the day before, so we talked shop and the miles passed quickly, though I did take note of the heat which seemed to be rising with each mile. I tried not to think about it as we came back to the track and I got myself ready to go. Since Kirsten is running a marathon on Sunday, she does not have her typical track workout this week, but, since she it such an unbelievable friend, she stayed down with me for moral support. Yes, I'm insanely lucky. I gave her my watch, told her the splits I was trying to hit and then took off for my first repeat. Today's workout was 5 x 1000 @ 6:00 min pace. From the minute I woke up this morning until this very second, I did everything I could to convince myself that I was both ready and capable to get it done. My mantra of the day: I can. And I will.
For the record, I loathe 1000s. Holding steady for that long at that pace is insanely difficult for me. Not a shocker as that is the point. But still. I'd rather do 25 x 400 than 5 x 1000. Alas, I did not have a choice, so I what I preferred didn't really matter. I hit the first interval right on the nose: 3:45. But, holy shite was that hard. The doubt seeped right in. Thankfully, Kirsten was there to remind me that our coach wouldn't give us these workouts if he didn't think we could do it. Yes. You're right. Let's go. One down, four to go. The next three were right in there - 3:47, 3:47 and 3:48. Given the heat, the breeze on the back side and the level of difficulty, I was ok with it. I was working so damn hard and during each recovery lap I would repeat to myself over and over: I can. And I will. My last repeat took everything out of me and I came in right at 3:50. Not exactly what I'd wanted. But, not bad. And, more importantly, I'd given it everything I had and gotten it done. As I cooled down, I felt good. Really good. Sure, I'd been a little off. But, I'd pushed hard for all five repeats and didn't give up and I know a lot of that had to do with my shift in mentality today. And that's the kicker here. I wanted to hold onto that positive vibe all the way through to the other side of my workout. I wanted to be proud of myself for the work I'd done, not stress about how it had unfolded. I won't lie and tell you it wasn't a huge help to have a cheerleader. It was. But, overall, my body has responded to the goal I'd set out for it in it's own way and for that I was happy.
Recently, I reminded one of my high school athletes who hadn't run well in her race that it was okay, because it was all part of the process and every race, workout, good day, bad day, all of it gets us to where we want to be. What I'm realizing now is that staying positive and believing in myself makes it a hell of a lot more fun.
Listen to this:
Set On Fire - Magic Giant