Carrots and Zen: Training for the Wellington Round the Bays 2012

One month to go til the big day and I’m seriously excited. I’m also feeling like a half marathon is well within my abilities now. I’ve gone out on a couple of longer runs and done okay. The milestone I set myself in my last post was to run 12km and I managed that as planned. I’ve also been out for a 14km run. It felt like a long way and I was tired, but I don’t think my energy levels or the state of my legs were a problem. The interesting thing about these longer runs is how the mental aspect comes into play. Setting out for a long run and knowing you won’t be stopping for over an hour is quite daunting.

The 14km run took me about 1 hour and 20 minutes, and was all the way along the waterfront from Te Papa to the airport roundabout and back. Walking out the door to run 5 or 6km is no big deal now. It takes about 30 minutes and it’s easy to stay focussed for that length of time. But running for over an hour requires a lot more motivation. At some point my mind starts to wander and I’ll notice how my legs feel a bit stiff, or a wave of lethargy will creep up. Then the finishing line doesn’t seem to be getting any closer, it’s still another 6km to go, and I always seem to be running into the wind, and why do my house keys keep digging into me? The next thing you know you’re wondering what the hell you’re doing running alongside a busy Cobham Drive on a hot day when it would be quite nice just to sit down on the beach and watch the waves roll in instead. It’s like having one of those devils from the movies sitting on your shoulder going “you’ve done 8km, why bother to do the rest, you know you can do it, why not stop for a bit? Fancy a bit of flapjack and a flat white instead?”.

It’s at this point it helps to “know thyself”, and it helps if you’re able to deliver yourself a big kick up the backside somehow. I guess you don’t get as far as being able to do 10km regularly without understanding the signs your body sends you when under pressure. That niggling feeling in your calf muscle – is it a sign of cramp, or is it some kind of injury? Does it feel “wrong”, or can you just ignore it? How tired are you really? Are you jelly-legged and overhot kind of thirsty or is your mouth just a bit dry? I guess you only know from experience and instinct. If I honestly think there’s nothing seriously wrong, then it’s simple: No stopping!

Then I guess there are a variety of ways to stay motivated. There are the “carrots”: picture the finishing line, imagine the kids cheering you on, or recall some uplifting music. There are the “sticks”: the looming deadline of race day, the need to prove “them” all wrong, or realising those chocolate almonds will stay on you forever. There is doing it for “love”: your partner will adore you for your tenacity, your charity will benefit, your family will be proud. There is doing it for “spite”: stomping the haters in the dirt, trampling over bad memories, even kicking yourself for just thinking about stopping! Finally there’s also the zen: keep going, time will pass, you are on a cool plateau, the finishing line will come to you. Personally I veer between spite and zen. I’m either muttering “come on you fucker!” to myself, or my eyes have glazed over.

However, with just a couple of kilometres to go on my 14km run something strange happened – I got a second wind. It didn’t feel so tiring and hard anymore, I actually picked up the pace a bit. It felt enjoyable! Had I pushed through “the wall”?

There’s definitely a lot more for me to learn about managing and preparing for long runs. It’s like a whole new aspect to the sport. In the evenings after the 12km and 14km runs I felt unusually headachy, despite having rehydrated and eaten a decent meal. At the moment I’m taking a break from training to recover from the 14km run I did, get some night shifts out of the way, and to prepare for a 16km run. So that’s my next milestone: 16km. I’m aiming to head out after my early shift at work tomorrow in fact. I can’t wait to give it a crack. There’s a bit which always makes me smile when I head out: the NIWA offices past Kio Bay are the 4km mark and there’s a speed camera which tells you how fast you’re going. Always makes me grin to see a big “10” or “11” flash up when I’m running towards it!

I-F – Mixed Up In The Hague Vol. 1

A classic italo/disco/electro mix to get you moving this week. This set was recorded in 1999 by I-F and helped spark a huge resurgence of interest in the early electronic dance music of artists like Patrick Cowley, Giorgio Moroder, and Alexander Robotnik. Italo disco was the world’s first kind of totally electronic dance music, and emerged in the late 70s and early 80s in Europe. It has a space-age, robot funk sort of sound built up from synths and early drum machines, and often makes fantastic use of vocoders. Plug in and feel the planets dancing!

Click here to listen on Mixcloud

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2 thoughts on “Carrots and Zen: Training for the Wellington Round the Bays 2012

  1. Great to read about someone else going through the same mindgames while ticking off the distance! As you increase your distance I recommend packing one or two jellybeans: reward yourself at the one hour or one and a half hour mark. You’ll need a little energy boost (especially on race day) so best to incorporate it into the training.

    Love that speed sign by NIWA! All the best for your half marathon.

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