Thinking like an athlete

Today was tough.

I like to run at least twice a week. Now that I’m properly training, I asked Alan what I should do with my other running day when I’m not seeing him. I instantly regretted it when he suggested 6 x 1 mile off 2 1/2 minutes (which means a 2 1/2 minute rest between each mile). It would be by far the hardest running session I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t have Alan pushing me along the way. I was worried about it.

And therein lies the problem.

I doubt myself. A lot. I’ve gone from being a fairly decent plodder to someone who wants to push their body as far as it can go at this moment in time and it’s a big leap.

I’ve been fighting (and winning I hasten to add) a cold all week, and I have a few things diary-wise coming up that are preoccupying me. These things were on my mind as I plodded to the start of my mile lap around West Cambridge. I let the fact that it was going to be a hard session overwhelm me, rather than telling myself I’d give it my best shot even though I’m only feeling about 80%. Unsurprisingly Alan appeared at the top of the road on my first mile like some kind of coaching Dynamo and told me to stop looking at the floor. That’s when I know I’m in trouble. My head goes down when I think I can’t do it.

I managed that first mile in 6:26 which is pretty good for me, but after a quick chat with Alan he told me “everything you’ve just said is negative. You’re going to do four miles today because your body is telling you it hasn’t recovered yet. You need to start thinking like an athlete.” And the first thing that came into my head? “I’m not an athlete.”

For crying out loud. What does my stupid head think I’ve been doing for the last five years? Just walking a bit faster than normal?

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Bright but heavy legs

I did the next mile in 6:30 which I was happy with, but then the legs got heavy. I followed it with 6:39 and then 6:50. By this time Alan had had to shoot off to another commitment (see? HE GETS EVERYWHERE) and I dragged my tired self back into work.

Two things came into my head as I was recovering. I remembered a game of rounders when I was about 10. As I stepped up to bat one boy shouted “watch out for Lauren! She hit it out of the park last time!” Oh if only. He’d gotten me confused with someone else and I remember how the smiles turned to smirks and laughter as I missed every single ball. Another time, when I was about 13, we had a swimming gala at school. I’m sure the teachers meant well when they insisted everyone take part in a race but I was terrified. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, and my mum will tell stories of how as a child I tripped and fell into a pool and just lay face down until she rescued me. We’re talking ZERO survival instinct. Now I can do a passable breaststroke, but I’ll never forget struggling with a float in a relay while my teammates screamed at me to go faster even though the result was inevitable.

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A rubber ring – very wise

I don’t want you to think I had a childhood riddled with sporting failures and embarrassments. I was generally happy to give things a go even though I never came close to excelling at anything. It’s just hard to see that kid getting to where I am now. I literally would have laughed in your face if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d end up running half marathons.

But this evening I sat down and thought about my somewhat cheesy favourite positivity quote (fitspiration if you’re so inclined):

“Don’t look at how far you’ve got to go – look at how far you’ve come.”

Boom. Too flipping right. I’m literally on my second week of proper training with Alan. I’ve taken on distances (400m and 800m) that I’m not comfortable with. I’ve started using my arms efficiently and driving my knees up. I’m improving. I just need to work on my mind now.

Bring on next week. I’ll be the one running with my head up high.

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