Tag Archives: Marathon Training

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.


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’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


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


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


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




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


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?


Last Week’s Workouts

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Remember when I said I wish we would get more snow?

Guess what?

Wishes really do come true!

Last week my kids had 2 snow days and 2 two hour delays. Do the math and you’ll realize that they were home more than in school.

And today is another snow day with a good ol’ fashion blizzard. I even got called off from work.

Why not get ALL of winter weather in a two week period?

Despite the weather, I still got a solid week of training. I strayed from my training plan a little but I think I still put in a ton of effort. That counts for something, right?

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Monday: 45 minutes bike trainer, 30 minutes strength training

Cross training day! After a weekend of running, I always look forward to something different. And my joints appreciate it too. Hitting the bike for some no impact cardio always feels good. I followed it up with weights and balance work.

last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Tuesday: 7.28 miles

Tempo Tuesday is back!  It’s been forever since I did a tempo workout.  I’ve never been a huge fan of tempos. Frankly, they scare me more than a speed workout. My plan called for 3 miles at half marathon pace. I haven’t raced a half in over 2 years so I had no clue what pace to aim for. I thought 8:00-8:15 would be good.

Lori and I met dark and early for a snowy run. We picked a “flat” route which really isn’t flat because there is no such thing in our town.  It was the first time I had programmed a workout into my watch. I think it gave me a little anxiety to hear the beeping if I was running faster than my prescribed pace. But when I didn’t hear it, I didn’t like that so I kept running fast enough to hear beeps. I know, I’m weird.

Actual pace: 7:55, 7:49, 7:41

I was shocked to see that because the first mile actually felt harder than the third.

Wednesday: 5 miles

The snow continued on all day Tuesday and then switched to freezing rain overnight. Rather than dealing with a sloppy mess and a skating rink, I opted for the treadmill. This run was painful. I wanted to poke my eyes out from boredom. I go through periods of doing OK with the treadmill and not minding it and other days hating every single minute.

last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Thursday: 5+ miles snowshoe run

A Nor’easter blew in on Thursday morning. Basically the whole state shut down. Ron was called off from work so I was free to run whenever. Jess, Tony and I agreed to meeting up for trail fun. This was only my second time running in snowshoes. It’s hard AF when it’s a packed trail. But breaking your own trail in at least 4 inches of fresh snow? Hard AF x 1000. The snow was coming down fast. The wind was blowing. I was sucking wind. It was so fun!

My plan called for 8 miles with Fartleks. Not exactly the workout that was planned but I think I worked 10x harder. Oh well.

last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Friday: Strength training, Candlelight Vinyasa/Restorative Yoga

My plan called for a complete rest day but I had only got one strength training session in for the week. I got in a solid 30 minutes weights/balance exercises before heading into work.

In the evening, I enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing restorative yoga workshop at Bending Bodhi.

last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Saturday: 14 miles

Guess what? It was snowing, cold (13 degrees) and windy again on Saturday morning. Lori and I were going to run long on Sunday but at the spur of the moment switched back to Saturday. The roads were snow covered and sloppy. I wore my YakTrax for a little traction at least. It was helpful but my feet were still slipping. We kept the pace slow and steady because there was no way we could pick up the pace in that crap. It was a welcome relief to find patches of pavement to get back to a somewhat normal pace. But then a car would come and you’d have to jump back into the cookie dough snow. I was never so happy to be done with a run. Fourteen miles felt like 30.

last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Later that evening we met up with friends for a moonlight snowshoe walk. It was cold AF but so fun. Especially when the skies cleared and the full moon came out.

last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Sunday: 5.5 miles

Thankfully today was a recovery run because the roads were still just as sloppy as yesterday. See above for what slop looks like. I kept things s-l-o-w and worked out the soreness in my left glute. I’m not sure if it was from the weights on Friday or from Saturday’s run. After talking to a bunch of people yesterday, I think it might be from the run. Almost everyone that ran Saturday had sore glutes. Coincidence? I think not.

Another week down.

I’m looking forward to a cut back week in mileage and hopefully less snow on the roads but plenty on the trails.

How was your week in workouts?

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