Category Archives: Marathon

Working on My Mental Toughness

Building Mental Toughness in Running happyfitmama.com

Looking back at my training for races, I do a lot of cringing.

As in, insert forehead slap, “What was I thinking?!”

Particularly half and full marathon training.

Name any single one – not fueling during training, skimping on running goal pace miles, running through pain, etc and I’ve done them all. I’d like to think I’m getting wiser the more I run, that I’m learning from my past mistakes. But I’m a stubborn runner. Sometimes it takes a failure or ten, for me to have an AHA! moment.

One of the biggest things that I’m working on this training period is building my mental toughness.

I’ve learned over the years that running is at least 90% mental. My mind needs to be trained just as much as my muscles and cardiorespiratory system. When negative thoughts creep in, things can quickly take a nose dive.

I can’t becomes my mantra. Which usually follows with a slowing pace.

Building mental toughness in running | happyfitmama.com

I trained for a half marathon a few years ago that I had my heart set on achieving a shiny new PR.  My training went really well so I thought it was going to be easy (as easy as running a half marathon can be – lol!).

Long story short – I tanked at mile 3 because of negative thoughts.

I was so worried throughout my training and the days leading up to the race that a tendon injury that I had 6 months prior was going to rear it’s ugly head and prevent me from reaching my goal.

Worry leads to self sabotage. I felt one little twinge and spiraled out of control with negativity. By mile 6 I was ready to walk off the course.

FYI – I was completely fine. Who knows…maybe there never even was a twinge? Once Negative Nellie had her hands on me, I was toast.

Since this will be my first real race effort since my injury in 2015, I don’t want a repeat of that scenario.

Negative Nellie is being replaced with Positive Polly.

Or at least I’m trying to do this. Like I said, I’m in training.

Last week, during my long run that called for the last 5 miles at goal marathon pace, I put into practice what I’ve failed to do in my previous training plans.

Simple phrases like I am strong or I can do hard things totally flipped my perspective and that fast finish wasn’t nearly as tough as I envisioned it was going to be.

Building mental toughness in runnin g| happyfitmama.com

Along with the positive self talk, I’ve been trying to visualize myself running the actual race.  Of course, I’m visualizing me crossing the finish line, arms raised high above my head, with my goal marathon time on the finisher’s clock.

I’m also visualizing moments where I’ll be fatigued and want to stop.   I’m visualizing the last few miles where I’m deep in the pain cave and just want to be D.O.N.E with the damn race. What will I do to get my head out of that moment?  How will I direct my attention elsewhere?

I put my body through the paces of training. It’s time my mind got a workout too. Fingers crossed, we all work together on race day!

Are you a Negative Nellie or Positive Polly on race day?

What’s your best mental trick in running?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and the Coaches’ Corner.

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Last Week’s Workouts

What a difference a week makes!

Clear roads. Warmth. Sunshine. Shorts.

The change in weather came at just the right time for last week’s workouts.  I’m 12 weeks out from Sugarloaf Marathon.  The workouts are getting more intense.  The mileage is creeping up.  I hit the 40+ weekly mileage stage and am feeling pretty damn good.

It’s amazing how you can feel a million times lighter and more gazelle-like with ditching 10,000 layers.

Monday

Monday’s are my cross training and strength days.

30 minutes recumbent bike with intervals

15 minutes rowing machine

20 minute strength workout mostly on the BOSU ball.

When my physical therapist suggested I get a BOSU ball two years ago, I didn’t think I’d use it that much.  Turns out that it’s the best thing since sliced bread for any kind of workout! I think it’s made a huge difference in not only my balance but strength too.

Try this quick 20 minute BOSU strength workout that I did during Last Week's Workouts happyfitmama.com

Tuesday

Morning Yoga Flow class at Bending Bodhi

Usually I run first thing in the morning, hustle home to get the kids ready and off to school and then head to yoga class. I decided to sleep in (6 a.m. woohoo!) so I could enjoy my run in the warmth and sunshine later in the day.  Plus, any workout that has a prescribed pace scares the pants off me.  I felt like I had a better chance of nailing the paces in the light of day rather than the dark.

Planned: 8 miles, Fartlek – 5 x 5:00 at 7:45-7:50 pace

Actual: 9 miles, 5 x 5:00 @ avg pace 7:42.  I didn’t want to run 9 miles but I misjudged how far away from home I was. Opps!

Side note: It may have only been 41 degrees but wearing shorts never felt better.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Wednesday

Lori and I went up and down the hilliest streets in town first thing in the morning for 6 miles of fun. Although it wasn’t nearly as warm as the day before, there were birds singing and an increasing amount of runners out at zero dark thirty. It can only mean one thing – spring is near!

Where were these runners when it was 10 degrees a few weeks ago?!?!

Strength training during my lunch break at work.  Perks of working in a rehab gym!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Thursday

A.M. Morning Flow Yoga class

I moved my long run to Thursday for two reasons. Earlier in the week I thought I might run an evening snowshoe race on Saturday (it eventually was cancelled because of lack of snow) and the forecast for Thursday was supposed to be the best day yet. I wanted to enjoy the warm weather as much as I could before it goes away.  You know it will – it’s only February!

Again, this workout freaked me out seeing it on paper – 14 miles with the last 5 miles at goal marathon pace (8:20).  I haven’t run a workout like that in a very, very long time.  The doubt machine was on high.  I made sure that the first 9 miles were at a comfortable easy pace.  As I neared mile 9, I flipped on the positive self talk switch to get rid of negative Nellie.

I can do hard things.

I am strong.

My body knows what to do.

Don’t think. Just do.

Guess what? It worked!

It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be.  The only problem was the third mile.  I had run out of Tailwind/water and was so unbelievably thirsty.  My body was not ready for 60 degrees and full sunshine.  It felt like I was in the Sahara desert.

I stopped to refill my bottle briefly and kind of lost my rhythm as I had to restart running again up a long hill.  But then I regrouped and got my pace back down for the last two.  Average pace for the last 5 miles: 8:18. BOOM!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Friday

ABSOLUTE REST!

Saturday

Nicole and I met up for an easy run.  I had planned a route that was mega hilly to practice climbing and running downhill to mimic Sugarloaf but it was so foggy that I didn’t think it would be wise to run it.  Most of the route is on a busy road with minimal shoulder space.  We still had some hills on the alternative route because there’s no way to avoid hills entirely in my town.  They are everywhere!

Planned 8 miles, easy

Actual: 9 miles because we were talking too much for me to notice when we were 4.5 miles from my house. Opps I did it again!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Sunday

Four easy recovery miles in a wind that hit me in the face no matter what direction I ran.  How is that even possible?

We didn’t have any big plans for the morning so I slipped away to the A.M. Morning Flow Yoga class at the studio.  It was the perfect way to cap off a successful week of running!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Linking up with Ilka/Angela and Hoho/Tricia for the weekly workout wrap up.

How was your week in workouts?

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Last Week’s Workouts

Last week’s workouts were all about cutting back. On mileage that is. Despite it being an “easy” week, I still felt like I was working hard. The weather is 99.9% to blame. With two snowstorms that forced two days of school cancelled, I had to move around my workouts and do what I could with what I had.

Monday

Another snow day! Ron and I were both called off from work and school was cancelled. We spent the day playing outside in the backyard and eventually ventured out to Kingman Farm trails. As you can see from the pic below, the kids were taking a rest break. Which they do often.

Before the day got started, I did a strength training workout in the basement. There were lunges of all varieties, squats, planks, and push ups.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Tuesday

Easy 5 miles with Lori and Ryan.  The roads were still a little snow covered and slick from the storm the day before. I guess that made some drivers angry.  We had a car lay on the horn and flip us off for some reason.  We weren’t even in his lane! Not sure what his problem was. Ryan thought maybe his ex-wife was a runner.

After dropping the kids off at school, I hit up my favorite Morning Flow yoga class. Runner’s Lunge saves my legs yet again.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Wednesday

Planned hill repeats. Actual = treadmill run because Lori hurt her back. 6 miles easy

I didn’t want to do hill repeats solo at zero dark thirty so I opted for an easy treadmill run. My thought was that I’d do the repeats on Thursday after my morning yoga class. Mother Nature had other plans.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Thursday

Snowstorm, Ron delayed opening, school cancelled

Planned hill repeats, Actual = hill repeats in the cemetery

I woke up Thursday morning to my phone ringing.  I thought for sure it was a 2 hour delay. Wrong.  School was cancelled. Wtf?!?! The roads were quite slick early in the morning but were clear by 9:30.

Since I’d be home with the kids all day and Ron had a delayed opening for work, I had a short window of when I could get my run done outside.  My usual hill was out of the question – too icy. Other options required running on busier streets to get there, which I didn’t want to mess with. My last option was the cemetery. It’s not a very big hill, but it’s a hill. And the road was plowed. I didn’t have to worry about traffic and cars didn’t have to worry about me. Problem solved.

10 x 30 sec hard effort. I then looped through neighborhoods to end up with 7 miles total.

Friday

I had a planned rest day but I wanted another quality strength workout in for the week.  I did this workout minus the run portion.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Saturday

I met up with my running buddy, Sarah, who was my go-to gal for Boston training. We now live 40 minutes away from each other so we meeting up is always a treat. The miles ticked away easily as we got up on everything. My breathing felt off for the entire run. I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath.  I thought maybe it was because we were talking non stop for the whole 10 miles but I continued to feel that way for the rest of the day.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Sunday

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw that I ran the Six03 Endurance Back 9 5k snowshoe race.  Holy freakin’ hard! Snowshoe running is hard. Trying to “race” is 10x harder. It was my third time running with snowshoes and my first race.

My breathing was still feeling wonky but I think I would have felt the same even if I was feeling 100%. The best way I can describe how I felt during the race was chaotic. My heart rate was through the roof, my breathing was shallow, and my feet seemed to have a mind of their own. I don’t think I heard anything other than my heart beat in my ears for the duration of the race. For the rest of the day, I could not stop coughing because my throat felt so weird. Fingers crossed I’m not getting sick!

The course was challenging, no doubt, with mushy snow, icy snow, and a totally narrow path. It’s kind of intimidating when you have someone right on your heels – do I let them pass or are they just tailing me?

Of course, this girl makes it look easy, taking home the win for first woman. She did tell me it wasn’t the best course for my first snowshoe race attempt. I’m on the fence if I want to try it again.  Can I calm the chaos in me? Or is that normal? Are you supposed to feel like everything is spiraling out of control? Lol. There’s another race coming up on Saturday…we’ll see!

Last week's workouts } happyfitmama.comSmiling because I thought I was done. But wait! You must run up and over a big snowbank to finish. So cruel!

This week’s workout are when things get serious. The mileage ramps up and so does the intensity. Thankfully, it looks like the weather will at least be on my side. No snow in the seven day forecast and warm temps makes for clear roads to run!

How was your week in workouts?

Linking up with Ilka/Angela and Hoho/Tricia for the weekly workout wrap up.

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