I've (re)discovered two things that can make my runs easier: 1) wearing short tights and 2) practicing suffering.
The tights worked very well during today's tempo, which I ran in 92 degrees. The tights wicked the sweat away and did not feel heavy and sticky like my regular running shorts. I was still hot and sweaty, but it was definitely better than what I experienced during my last long run.
Onto practicing suffering... Matt Fitzgerald, the author of Brain Training for Runners, mentions as one of his brain techniques practicing suffering. The idea is to make suffering a goal, to embrace it rather than fear it, so that, over time, the brain can habituate to it and be able to take more and more. "Can you suffer more?" has been one of my mantras for a while now, yet I have forgotten to use it during training for this marathon cycle. I typically ask myself this question during tough races, including Boston, and the answer is always "yes". Answering "yes" is so reassuring and it allows me to feel a bit in control and less afraid of what might come ahead (aka more pain and suffering). After my tough run on Saturday, I decided I needed more brain training. I felt I was becoming "soft", giving in to pain easily. I skimmed Matt's book again, and decided I need to go back to using my mantra, and to practicing suffering.
How did it go?
Monday I ran 9 miles, with 3X 1 mile @ 6:40 (was supposed to be 6:41:) with 1 min RI in between the miles. Again, temps were high, and it was humid. The rest intervals went by too quickly as I searched my Ipod for some motivation inducing fast beat songs. Legs felt great, no lactic acid build-up. However, there was, again, vomit during the last 100m of the last repeat (my fault, I had to run in the morning and did not allow enough time for my oatmeal and coffee to digest). Which brings me to the question? When is suffering too much AND how do you clean up your vomit from the track?
What I've learned:
1) I no longer fear vomiting during tough runs. It happens, and you can go on running with perhaps a bit of a sticky face, but a happier stomach!
2) I can be tough. There was no way in hell I was going to miss my target pace.
3) All the pain is worth it - if they could put all the amazing feelings that come with running hard in a pill, I would pay a lot of money to take it!
4) "Can you suffer more?" works well during the last 400 meters when your brain starts to come up with excuses as to why you need to stop!
Today I ran 8 miles with 3 @ short tempo pace 7:14 (actual pace was 7:13). Temps were super high, 92 degrees and humid. The tempo was actually easy - legs felt great, breathing was not too hard - but breathing the hot air and feeling sweat drip from my body and face made the miles tougher than they would have been in cooler weather. I ran the 8 miles at average pace 8:15 and itwas not easy. But, suffering I practiced, with a smile on my face. And I actually ended up enjoying the run, rather than calling it horrible, because practicing suffering was the goal. Accomplished.
What I've learned:
1) I need to order another pair of running short tights
2) I can take being hot, sweaty and uncomfortable.
3) Tempo runs are becoming easier. In the FIRST program, the track and tempo workouts are repeated 4 times (with tempo length increased by 1 or 2 miles). I did the same workout 4 weeks ago. It felt easier today, in spite of the higher temps.
So recovery run tomorrow and an 18 miler on Saturday. The plan is to try to wake up earlier, but I make no promises...Plus, if I run later in the day, I will have more opportunities to practice suffering:)
Here is the link for the tights I use (for Meg, Kristen, Melanie and others interested): http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/search/results/pid1201298-Women-s-UA-Achieve-5-Short/1201298-001
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