Winning the mental game

17 08 2014

After three weeks sidelined with a knee injury, my prep for the 5 Bridges Half Marathon was hardly ideal. I was given the ok from my physio to pound the pavement, but I knew I had to take it easy.

One of my friends, Nikki, offered to be a running buddy, knowing that she was a bit slower than me. But for me, I needed to keep myself slow because I knew I hadn’t built up the stamina, or prepared my body in any way for the gruel of 21.1kms on my feet.

I felt rather undercooked. I wasn’t prepared. Mentally or physically. Could I do this?

Of course, right at the start, Competitive Me had to watch all of these runners taking off, running past us, heading for much faster times than we were. Times I knew I could match. If I’d had the right prep.

I had to remind myself that I hadn’t had a good run up. My training hadn’t been interrupted. It had been ground to a halt. So I’d be foolish to try and follow them. Besides, I was there for Nikki as much as she was there for me.

We settled into a comfortable pace and Competitive Me was beaten into submission.

The first 5ks flew by. We were going along at quite a good pace and I couldn’t believe we were already a quarter of the way there. At this point the course became new to me as I hadn’t run it before. I did the 10k last year, which turned at the 5k point, so we were headed into unknown terrain. Literally and metaphorically.

When people told me this wasn’t a fast course, I thought they just meant the muddy stop bank and the underpass switchbacks. But the undulating path makes it tricky to maintain a regular pace. We started to slow.

I’d been hoping to help Nikki gain a new PB, but it became obvious early on that we were probably off the pace. Never mind, I reassured her, not every race can be a PB.

At around 9.5ks, an ongoing problem for me started to rear its ugly head. Despite having had a knee injury, it was causing me no problems at all. However both my hips started to ache and seize up. I knew I had a long way to go and thought that by sticking with Nikki’s pace, I should still make it round.

At the turn, we walked a few metres to let Nikki get a drink, then. We plodded on again. I had to get moving faster again or I knew my hips would seize up too much. I tried to keep Nikki with me but she was happy in her own little, openly singing world 😉 oblivious to the pace and seemingly happy to trot along.

With about 6ks to go, a couple of things switched in my head. Firstly, the pain in my hips was getting quite bad and I just wanted to get the race over with. Secondly, I was slowly gaining on the runner ahead, and Competitive Me could hold back no longer! I opened my stride and took off.

Strangely, the slightly faster pace and longer stride seemed to ease my hips a little, but not enough for me to want the race to finish! I caught that runner in front of me. And then there was another to aim for. I caught her too. And then another. I lost count of how many I overtook in those last 6ks, but it didn’t matter. I just wanted it to be over :-/

As I rounded the last but one bend, I could see my husband at the end of the road. He’d completed the 10k and had come out to help me over the last 400m. He knew I hadn’t trained properly and was feeling underprepared. It was good to see him and have his encouragement to get over the line.

My time of 2:26:13 is my second slowest HM, but I actually don’t care. Even Competitive Me has got over the time factor. I got round a half, not having trained properly (not that I’d advocate it!) and I’d succeeded in placing my mind over matter in a couple of ways.

Firstly the time. I’m not bothered about it. And secondly, I overcame a world of pain in my hips. That wasn’t necessarily the brightest move either, but I did it.

At a running seminar a couple of months ago, a lot of emphasis was placed on mental strength. Today’s race was purely a mental game. I like to think I won.

But that’s just me. Being competitive. As usual.

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7 01 2015
A mental year | A little old blog, by little old me

[…] my advantage too. Get to know yourself and what your drivers and motivators are, and use them, or dampen them, as you need to. It will help you achieve your physical goals […]




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