Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Great Track Workout and a Good Enough Tempo

Besides visualization, other new tools I'm learning to use are relaxation and affirmation. Now, these areas of weakness for me. I tend to tense up easily and then engage in negative self-talk and self-sabotage, or I tend to engage in negative self-talk and then tense up and self-sabotage that way. (Chicken or the egg?) Either way it interferes with my running success big time.

Well, I now am learning how to quit both acts of self-sabotage. On Tuesday before my track workout I took ten minutes and did some deep-breathing and visualization exercises while the kids napped. And then when I was on the track, I focused on the word 'glide' and repeated my new mantra, "Working hard is fun, that's why I run!" Both concepts worked beautifully. E and I ran a stellar set of 6 x 800's all between 2:46 and 2:48 and then followed that up with our fastest 200's ever! "Glide" helped to remind me not to force the pace and just let it flow. It's a good relaxing motion word and it also has a nice confidence infused in it. And then the "Working hard" mantra came in handy when the workout got tough. It reminded me that I like pushing through and getting the job done and it's supposed to be a little hard (that's why it's called a workout out, duh!)

Then today was my tempo day. I had 7 @ 6:30 on tap. I was worried a little because my Garmin has been funky at the park. I decided to change my autolap to every .5 instead of every mile so if I had one bad split here or there I wouldn't sweat it as much. Maybe this was a mistake? After fighting off a stitch on the warm-up, I kept repeating to myself "I am a talented athlete and I nail my tempo runs." It sounds Suart-Smalley-esque and it is, but it definitely helped me avoid the negative thought creep today. It also helped me not worry about the stitch. And I didn't.

On the advice of NC I started the tempo on a loop around an office park near the park. It started off well. The first .5 was @ 6:28 pace which was perfect. However, I then turned into a stiff headwind for the next .75 and the next split was at 6:41 pace (and I was happy with this because the Garmin said 6:50's for way too long into that split for my liking! It did this for most of the splits--starting off saying I was going anywhere from 6:50-7:10 through .25 miles which despite all the mantras and comforting affirmations I through at it, kinda freaked me out). But since the average was 6:34 I felt ok about it at that point. The next mile was pretty much the same. Right on out of the wind, slow in the wind. I ran 6:33, but thought after the third mile I'd try my luck in the park to get out of the wind. Third mile was 6:35 and the same deal. Of course I got into the park and instead of getting easier, the splits got slower. Suddenly I saw a lot of 7:xx paces at the beginning of splits and had to fight way too hard to get the pace out of the 6:50's! Even so, I really felt like the effort was right and I was not going to worry about it. I ran 6:38; 6:44; 6:47 (ugh) and then 6:35.

I actually stayed fairly positive through the whole workout. I flirted for a second here or there in the park with quitting since I wasn't hitting the pace, but those thoughts didn't last long at all. I decided I would run the tempo as it was and just accept that tempos at the park are harder than the tempos I used to do downtown for whatever reason. I know it is better to get the workout in 8 seconds per mile slow than a mile or several short or not at all. But, after the high of the stellar track workout I feel like my head is back down to earth today!

I picked up Running Within during nap time today and read a chapter called, Gaining without Straining and it really made me feel better. A successful athlete trusts the messages from her body and knows the proper effort. I was beating myself up a little bit before I read this for not trying harder to hit the goal paces. I think I am doing the right thing. But I am going to try to do my tempo some where else next time!

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