Sunday, December 16, 2007

BRAIN TRAINING

17 miles today, working up to the Austin Marathon. I didn't feel like going. I made myself. I didn't feel like continuing. I made myself.

My body never felt bad -- it was my mind. About this point in marathon-training I always think, "Why am I doing this? Again? It sucks!"

Debating whether to go do my planned run today, I felt like today was make-it-or-break it day: If I did not do today's run, I was calling off the marathon.

I did the run.

My Achilles tendons, ailing for nearly a year, crippling me at the Vermont City Marathon in May, and bothering me all summer even just walking around, have healed up. I only got a couple of very short complaints from the right one; the left one was quiet.

No pain across my hips and sacrum like in Vermont; that, too, continued to bother me for months but has stopped now.

No quad pain, even though this was a big problem just 2 weeks ago on a 15-miler. Today I popped 3 Excedrin an hour into my run, figuring it would be starting to kick in about the time I started to ache, and at its peak in my last few miles. Whether this made the difference or whether it was just a pain-free run, I can't say for sure.

My body never felt bad. It was my mind. It was all in my head. There's been some splash recently about how the perceived need to slow down or stop is coming from the brain and not the body. The brain is trying to keep the body from doing exactly what we're training it to do: extend its limits. The brain is thinking there may be distance yet to cover and says, "If you keep this up you're going to be tired. You better quit while you're ahead." But the body has no awareness of miles to come; it only lives in the present (although past minutes or hours affect how it feels in the present.) So you can tell your brain to shut up and your body to keep going. The advice I've read (and I'm not going to hunt up a link; my connection is slow tonight -- I've seen it in a number of places recently, Runner's World being one of them) says, pay attention to your body, and if there's no medical reason to stop or slow down (like chest pain or respiratory distress or unmistakeable musculoskeletal trauma), then keep on going and don't slow down.

So I kept going (although checking my splits afterwards I see I did slow down, even though I didn't feel like I was) and even picked up the pace the last tenth of each mile and kept saying, "I'm training my brain. I'm training my brain. I'm training my brain."

I think my brain needs the training even more than my body does.

If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.
Rodney Atkins


3 comments:

bunnygirl said...

I so understand. I meant to do 20-23 again today and only did 19. Part of the problem really was due to the time of day I ran, which was unavoidable and put me in a situation at the end where it was starting to get dark and I wasn't in a place I felt safe about that. But I could've gone a couple more miles safely, and I didn't.

I told my husband this is why it's best to do the out-and-back portion of a long run last and any loops first. Once you're out, you have no choice but to make the return trip. No slacking is possible!

TxTriSkatemom said...

WTG on the long run. I've decided I'm only doing the half in Austin since I'm nowhere near ready for a long run of that distance.

Gotta train the mind, that's for sure. That's the part that shuts down faster, at least for me. I'm awful convincing sometimes, but not always good at convincing myself of the right things.

Fe-lady said...

Mind over matter! Great job on the 17! Amazing what the body can do once you convince the mind to just continue, hmm? :-)