This year my overall athletic goal has been to embrace Oiselle‘s moto and to go fast and take chances. While it might still be early October to me it feels like the Harvest Half was the culmination of my 2015 season. This feels like the perfect time to wrap up what I have learned from trying to push myself past my comfort zone.
After Saturday’s half marathon PR I wanted to get my thoughts and feelings down about the race as quickly as possible. I was worried that if I waited too long that time would dull the details. When I think back on the race there were very few points in time where I actually felt comfortable. If I would have allowed myself to think about it no doubt I would have wondered how I could keep running, feeling that way, for a little more than two hours. Without Tara to follow, what would have been the likelihood that I would have backed off?
It has taken me a long time to build the confidence to go into the pain cave. Pushing your body when it feels uncomfortable is an unnatural thing to do. Who likes feeling uncomfortable? Wouldn’t we all rather be cozied up in sweats with a warm beverage?
There is also so much vulnerability in pushing yourself to that place. What if I blow up? What if I can’t hold on? The thing that I’ve learned this year is if you don’t try and push yourself to that limit you won’t know if you could have held on. If something matters to you, you have to be willing to go out on a limb for it, but you also can’t be afraid of failing if you don’t make it. Failing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That failure might be the drive that you need to push a bit harder and to keep working to finally get you to your goal.
In order to push through you have to really want it. Your goal has to be real and personal to you. Without that connection how do you will your legs to keep moving, to turn over just a little bit faster? I’d recommend giving yourself an opportunity to reflect on your goals. Write it down and include the reasons for why this is important for you. Don’t be afraid to remind yourself of it all the time. And without a doubt, don’t be afraid to own it. Believe that you are doing everything you can to achieve it and that you are capable. If you truly don’t believe that you can do this, you never will. If your goal is big, huge and scary, be open to the idea that you may need some time to get there and it might not happen on your first try.
I also recommend having an arsenal of mental tricks in your toolbox. Practice them all in training to see what resonates with you. Prior to the race I e-mailed my coach the mantras I hoped to call on when the going got tough:
- If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you
- When it starts to hurt…remember, this is why you are doing this!
- Focus on form, think of a locomotive
I had a lot of options but continuously telling myself to relax in the final two miles was what worked best for me. I also knew in my heart that I wanted to do my best so very badly that thinking “follow your heart and your legs will follow” helped a lot. Tara was also ready to give me a push if I needed it. Somewhere in the second half of the race she asked me if I would want tough love or gentle encouragement near the end of the race. As it turned out I didn’t really need either. Apart from her pointing out someone ahead that I could try to catch she didn’t have to say very much. I was able to pull on something inside of myself to keep propelling myself towards the finish.
It has been an interesting year and I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Going fast doesn’t mean not following a pacing plan. Your brain matters as much as fitness does, so train it accordingly. Dream big. Dig deep. Now here is to building to 2016.
WOW! What a great post! I feel like you took this right out of my head. I constantly race with the fear of “blowing up” in the back of my mind, so I never really take a chance. I need to take a page from your book, my friend!
Congratulations again on such a great race – and a great year! Cheers to an even better 2016!
Marilyn recently posted…5 PEOPLE WHO MOTIVATE ME
We like to use that motto at the gym during our group fitness classes. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. When we push our limits to see what we can do. The outcome is always rewarding.
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There are times you have to push hard, especially in training. If you don’t have a training session blow up on you every now and then, it means you aren’t trying hard enough. Playing it safe is good when you are recovering from injury, or are out for an easy spin. But at least a few times in training you should be right up at the top of your limits, seeing stars, gasping for breath, wondering if you’re gonna puke. That’s where you find out you are stronger than you think, and you get your race PR.
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I love this <3
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Kaella On The Run says
Can I just say I love everything about this post?! This year has also been about taking chances (and big scary risks) and as much as they’re terrifying they’re also exciting and empowering!
I’m proud of you for putting in all the work!!!
Kaella On The Run recently posted…Training For The NYC Marathon- My 20 Mile Training Run and Looking Ahead To Week 14
Way to go! Congrats on pushing yourself and having a fantastic year. Cheers to 2016!
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Great job with the PR! And thanks for sharing your thoughts about how you accomplished this goal. I think that it’s important to have internal motivation and that external support, as you noted. I’m TERRIBLE about pushing myself on the bike, so for my last Olympic-distance race, my coach told me “I want you to go as HARD as you can”. Which wasn’t really that hard in comparison to everyone else, but it kept me really focused, which I needed.
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Runner Leana says
Thanks for your comment Kristina! I’m also pretty terrible at pushing myself on the bike too, partially because I’m worried I’ll trash my legs and not do well on the run. Sometimes you need that push from your coach to go outside your comfort zone.
Hope you had a great weekend!
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