At the end of 2017 I sat down with my coach to talk about my training, after not achieving results that were expected of me. I was stunned and appalled to find out that I had only executed 35% of my slow runs correctly and this was impacting on my results. To be honest I hated slow runs. They frustrated me no end. I began to hate running these, as I really didn’t understand the benefits. However, this was not from lack of education from the coach. I always had good intentions when I went out on these runs but I felt like I was failing not being able to run at a higher pace with a low heart rate. In hindsight, the negative thoughts subconsciously set the tone for these training sessions so not really surprising that things didn’t go well. Invariably at some point my frustration levels would eventually boil over and I would just throw in the towel. This started to become the norm for my training. I decided after that meeting that I needed to take some time out to short circuit this pattern. It also gave my body some time to recover after a heavy 15 months of training and racing without any rest.
I took 8 weeks out. In that time I walked, swam and learnt to ride a bike to keep fit. At the same time my husband decided to start running. Watching him getting excited about his running and all the milestones he was reaching made me want running more. During this time I spent some time focusing on rewiring the brain. On all my walks I recited positive mantras and reminded myself of how far I have come in three years.
So on the 1st January I restarted my training with a brand new attitude. If I want things to change, I had to change my thinking and attitude. At the beginning of each session I ask myself “what is the purpose of this training session?” and focus on that. Is the session for endurance; is it to work on strength; is it to work on speed? I try not to think of the numbers so much. I’m not saying that I’ve perfected this yet, but I am getting much better.
A fortnight later I tested myself running the Cadbury half marathon. I ran this purely to see where my fitness was and to overcome some demons. While the time wasn’t my fastest, I had a blast running this. It was the first race I had run and truly enjoyed. Not to mention the chocolate you get at the end!!
Fast forward 5 weeks and I am now getting ready to run a 10km race. It’s been a while since I’ve run this distance. In the lead up I am focusing on all my training sessions and sticking to the plan. The day before the race I get organized and decide what my race plan will be. I am feeling relatively calm (most unusual for me!). I have a conversation with the coach and decide to go out after a PB.
As it is only a short race I decide not to have too much for breakfast. I do make sure that I am well hydrated. I get to the race precinct to pick up my bib and suddenly I can feel the nerves kicking in and some doubt creeping in. This time I find some people I know and have a chat so that I am a bit distracted.
On the start line I start to think about my race strategy and make sure I can see what I need on the watch. My plan is to negative split. When the gun goes off it's a bit crazy. The course is quite narrow so there is a lot of bumping and pushing and the reality is that the crowd dictates your pace. At first this unsettles me (not very good in crowds) but I remind myself, “new attitude…” and just accept that this is not something I can control.
After the first 1km things settle down and I get myself into a rhythm. I’m keeping an eye on my pace and all is going well. I’m feeling in control and strong. I’m noticing that I can get up the rises with relative ease and I am passing quite a few people. That is until the 6th km when I trip over my own shoelaces in front of quite a number of people. I get myself up, have a drink of water and keep going. The only thing dented is the ego. Previously I would have just capitulated here, but I’m being positive and I still on target. Around the 8 km mark I can start to feel the strain and my resolve going. The only real hill in the race is here. I run up most of it but need to do some talking to myself so my mantra “new attitude” is trotted out and I get it together.
This kilometre is 30 seconds slower than I wanted so I am now slightly behind my target at this stage but I tell myself that it’s nothing I can’t make up. In previous races I would have given up. As I come into the last 300 metres, my favourite hat blows off and I turn around to go get it. I cross the finish line having put everything I had into it. However I miss my target by 45 seconds so am a little disappointed.
While I missed the target I set myself, it was in fact a PB for a 10km race – 55:45. It took some time and the coach’s review for me to appreciate that and see that there was a lot more positive then negative in this race. This was my best result in a race (I came third in my age group) and the pace was much more consistent. I still need to work on the back end of my runs and my self-belief. But most importantly, I ran with more confidence and belief in my ability. Yes there were a few moments that the old Bridget tried to push through but I knew I had trained well by sticking to the plan and executing each session. And surprise surprise I had a good race.