(Edited by Brad Minus) The Decision My 3 years of running experience started with multiple injuries including a couple of ankle fractures. However, I still managed to complete a marathon, a 50K and...
Psychology of the End – Stunning Sunday
Notice the title of this blog is not Psychology of the finish which I could probably write another full posting on. This is “the end”, because within this life we have a number of endings. Some of them open new doors, some of them just mean we have more to go. In triathlon, we end each event just to start another one. I have noticed a few things about myself that I need to overcome and maybe they may just be similar to what you may be going through. Some of the tips and tricks I have learned may help, and if they do great, if not you have another tool in your bag to pay it forward to others.
The idea for this posting hits me every time I am in the pool. As I stated numerous times in early posts, I am not a good swimmer by any means. I try though. What I notice is when I am in the pool, I speed up a bit when I see the wall coming up. I end up a little more winded than planned and I stop after 100 m. Interesting enough, I do make my turn at 50m, but the 100m wall I want to stop. This is what I reference as the end, not the finish. In the beginning of the workout I have many more laps to do, but I end up grabbing an extra breath and a few seconds of rest at each 100m turn. I know it psychological, because in open water I can just keep going. Do I change strokes occasionally to check the distance on my watch? Sure, but I continue on in just a few seconds. So why the difference? Is it discipline? Yes, that’s part of it, but it is also, the idea that the wall is right there seems to put the idea in my head that it is the end, so automatically speed up and my breathing changes. Obviously, this is probably not a common problem because I see a lot of triathletes swim lap after lap after lap.
Swimming isn’t the only event where the psychosis of the end comes into play. Have you ever gone out on a run knowing you are going to do six miles and at the end you are exhausted even though you might have run conquered much longer distances? I personally see the end of the workout and something kicks in and I am ready to stop for at least that portion of the session. I am not talking about a tempo run or a track workout. I am talking about just your basic run workout. Different workouts obviously dictate different intensity. For example, a 6 mile tempo run will require and higher intensity level then a long slow distance run, just as a track workout has a higher intensity level than even a tempo run.
The question is how can this obstacle of the end be broken? I have started coming up with a few ways to break through the end in order to keep going in the pool, do the optional mile after a hard track workout or even do that insurmountable transition run after a long hard bike session.
1) Swim – Learn to do flip turns if you don’t already know. My last workout I started to incorporate flip turns. I still am learning how to do them correctly, but because I took my 1000m continuous swim to learn to do them, the wall became an opportunity to practice the flip turn, and the 50m swim became the time I assessed how I did, and what I needed to make them better.
2) Run – there are three ways I usually get through this:
- The optional mile becomes not optional
- Fake it – no matter how slow you end up going do not worry just get it done and after a while your body will learn to expect it
- Give yourself a little extra time for recovery. In our speed workouts the coach gives us a pre-determined amount of recovery prior to the optional mile. Sometimes I need more, so I take it and then run the extra mile on my own.
3) Bike-to-Run Transition run – I have only found one real way to get through this myself. Have your running shoes (and socks) ready to go when you get back and in full eyesight when you either open the car or even pull up. My friend Nick sometimes trusts his shoes right under his car so he can hang his bike and go. If you trust that they will still be there this is the best way. When I personally see my shoes there ready and waiting, I would feel guilty if I didn’t run. Of course guilt is a more negative emotion, but sometimes the negative emotion can be used for a positive outcome. In my experience, if I decide to wait, I usually end up cooling down and I just have no desire to run. If I jump into my shoes and start the run, I feel like I am already running might as well work it the best I can.
In life I have had numerous endings that have also opened new doors to experiences that I would not have had if I didn’t recognize it. The end of my military career brought me to the corporate world where I have been succeeding. I had the choice to either stay in the military and continue my career or leave and start another one. I may have never started on this journey into endurance running and triathlon if I didn’t move on from the military. At the same time I have been offered numerous times after I finish a project to stay at the same location. Almost every time I have decided to move on and my following project has always given me the opportunity to learn something new.
In each of our lives there are “ends” to experiences, jobs, education, friendships etc. I believe the secret lies in recognizing whether it is actually an end or a finish.
Zoo Run Run Run to Zoo Run Run!!
If you have been following this goofy blog then you probably read in the post “State of the Goof” that I currently coach new runners to their first 5k race. I also mention that there is no other feeling like the emotion I get from watching my runners cross the finish line.
Today was no different. A couple of my runners had mentioned the Lowry Park Zoo Run because it looked like a lot of fun, so by a majority vote we decided to adopt that event as our culmination run. Others may call it an assessment run, because it is the final after the course. It is the race to see if the coaching and training was successful. I am here to say that to those whom participated, it was extremely successful. Just writing this I am getting excited remembering the faces on these women and the strength I saw as they fired over the timing mats at the finish line. What a feeling!
|The last workout before the Zoo Run|
Some of these runners had trouble with the very first workout which is a 5 minute walk followed by a 3 minute run, another 5 minute walk, a 2 minute run, completing with a final 5 minute walk. Now here they are 10 weeks later running a 5k (3.1 miles) straight without stopping. What an improvement. Barely 3 minutes to over 30 minutes in 10 weeks and hopefully having fun running it. (At least I hope.) I tell my students in the beginning that I have four goals for the coarse;
- They adapt my formula for natural running
- They remain injury free for the 10 weeks
- They complete the course with a 5k run where they run the entire race
- They have fun running.
I also tell them that in my opinion that until a person can run at least three miles straight that they cannot make an educated opinion on if they actually like to run or not. At the end of the course I expect one of three things to happen;
- They love running and they make it a part of their lives (My favorite choice)
- They don’t mind running and they use it as just a supplement to their fitness routine
- They still dislike it, but at least they have the fitness level to make that educated opinion
|Linda – 1st place AG|
Today I had 10 runners whom all crossed the finish line. Each one of them PR’d (Personal Record) whether it was their first record ever or if they did complete a 5k in the past. I am absolutely ecstatic about their successes. I had one of my women finish first in her age group of which we all stayed to watch her get her medal. Four of my runners were top 10, two of which were top 5, but mostly everyone finished strong, with no injuries and with smiles on their faces.
I started the course with twenty-three new runners and through attrition of work, family, lack of motivation for some reason, I ended with around fourteen of which only nine of them were available for this date. Either way, I am super proud of my team. This is my favorite day every ten weeks. It is obvious that they all still have different fitness levels and speeds so they do not finish together, but I get so excited that I end up running almost double the course running back and forth to encourage them, and I love it.
|My Champions after the Zoo Run|
My favorite way to go about this is to take the first two miles of the course and run back and forth between the fastest runners and the slowest runners, pacing along side each one to keep them motivated. When the fastest of the runners hits the last mile I try to be there to run with them through the finish line which usually means I am highly encouraging them to sprint to the finish line. After crossing myself, I head backwards through the course and start catching the other runners and I run them in as well until I get to my last athlete which by that time the rest of my group is waiting at the finish line cheering him or her in. Today was no different and I had a blast doing it.
FYI, just for shiggles – my time was around 30:10, but I had 4.25 miles already logged by that time.