Thursday, February 26, 2015

Training vs Racing...The Struggle is Real

My easy pace is my former tempo pace.  My tempo pace is something I never envisioned being able to maintain for over a mile, yet alone several miles.  I have found a love for running around the "oval office' and pushing my limits during speed workouts.  But there's a problem...

My race results do not reflect what I know I am truly capable of.  My race results do not reflect what is taking place during my training. 

I approach the start line excited, confident in my abilities, but then it all falls apart.  It wasn't until my last race that 2 words came to mind....RACE.  ANXIETY! This is a foreign concept to me, because as a competitive swimmer for over 10 years, I was a slacker at practice {the one whose goggles were always leaking, pulling on the lane lines while doing backstroke, turning around in the middle, get the picture} but did great come competition time.  Qualifying for state, regionals and more; I loved racing! And was successful at it.  This {RUNNING} RACING thing is a whole new ball game for me...

Why do I run faster on a saturday morning at 5 am, on 4 hours of sleep, following a crazy hectic week than I do when I am tapered, rested and have the excitement of a race to motivate me? 

When I first started running, it was strictly for fun.  An opportunity to run with my dad, to run with friends, and to travel occasionally.  Then it turned into more.  I had goals. I started following a training plan.  I hired a coach.  I wanted to compete.

My last race, and in all honestly several prior to that, opened my eyes to my personal struggles with racing.  While I knew I was capable of running the paces I discussed with my coach, they made me nervous.  Made me doubt myself.  They consumed my thoughts.  And as soon as I {thought I} couldn't maintain them, my race was mentally, and therefore, physically, over.  I couldn't get back in the game.  I wanted to be done. There was no plan B.  The last half was a walk/run combo, as I felt completely defeated.  I gave up.  It was a mental battle, that I lost. I crossed the finish line emotionally numb.  It wasn't that emotional, tear inducing feeling as if I left everything out on the course, but still fell short of my goal.  Rather, I was embarrassed.  Truly ready to completely throw in the towel on this whole running thing.  I felt defeated.  

BUT...I am not throwing in the towel.  I am not giving up.  I am determined to figure this out, and what a great day it is going to be when I am finally able to successfully put it all together. 

It has been several weeks since the race {yes...I am finally blogging about it, I know!} and I have had time to reflect etc.  and to come up with an answer to everyone's infamous question of "Why?" {when hearing I had a rather disappointing race}.  When is comes to racing, my mind is my greatest enemy; and I am a huge believer in the power, both good & bad, of the mind.  My training no longer focuses solely on my physical strength, but also my mental strength.  I am building the needed confidence to race MY race, that I know I am capable of.  I am channelling my inner competitiveness for good, focusing on competing only with myself, my goals, and my PRs.  

I love running and I look forward to loving racing.  It WILL happen!