Pouring rain, 46º and over 7,000 runners. I do not know the total because the results are not posted. I raced today in New York City’s Central Park for the Scotland 10K. It was a giant mud bath in the baggage area and pretty darn cold, but overall a fun day.
A lot happened in the past two months, which I will share with you for two reasons. One, people are asking me how I got faster, thinking it was all the speed training over the winter and two, knowing that we runners go through all kinds of crazy self doubt, self abuse, and obsessing, I will share my crazies and what I did about it.
To put things into pespective, I needed something to focus my training on. In January met my coach, Kelsey of Front Runners, who helped me lay out goal times for all my races, and dates when I need to hit them, 5k, 4 mile, 10k, 1/2marathon all looking toward my fall NYC marathon goal. Worrying that if I miss one goal on any of these races, my marathon 11 months away will be crap. I would get so worked up before a race that I could do little else, no social life, no working in my studio, just sitting at home with my dogs reading about how I can run better. When I was not running or reading, I was strength training. Hell, I could not even watch a movie without doing leg lifts during it. You get the picture; I was having a mental breakdown. I was fighting myself and got in a rut like a stuck looping CD.
Late breaking news: 7603 runners, 3584 women, and 285 in my age group. I came in 11th place in my age group, missed 10th by 2 seconds, 70.7%AG. Out of the 3584 women I came in 144. I beat old PR by 4 minutes and 7 seconds! Average pace 7:23.
How do I feel? Pretty fuckin’ awesome.
This is what I did. I asked for help from Kristen Dieffenbach, Ph.D. Professor at West Virginia University. She is a certified consultant, CC, with the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology, AASP, and an advisory board member with the USA Cycling coaching education committee and is the cycling psychology editor for Peak Conditioning for Cycling. She is owner of Mountains, Marathons & More and holds an elite level USA Cycling license and has earned a Level II endurance specialization from USA Track and Field. She has coached for over 10 years at the high school, collegiate, recreational, and elite levels in cross country, track and, for the past 7 years, road and mountain cycling.
I spoke with Kristin once a week for the past 4 weeks and what she is helping me do is reframe my goals and motivation for running. Obviously we can’t control the weather, who shows up or how fast we run on race day. But I learned to make a strategic plan, to list what I can control that is not goal oriented such as I want to be in the top 10. Plus I would learn to plug myself back into the process of running. For example my old way of pushing myself during as race was by saying, “keeping going, good job, your strong” all valid self talk but it was not working. Now I map out the course, decide how I am going to run each mile and experiment. That’s right experiment. Not worry about the outcome but pick one or two things to try during a race. In my last 4-mile race it was to push my speed up hills. A scary prospect, but why not try and put a bunch of energy in the uphill to push the pace. The result, I took one full minute off my 4-mile time. Today my plan was no time goal; in fact my watch broke this morning so I did not wear one. I would stay in constant awareness of what my hips and shoulders are doing and relax my abdomen. I would not tighten anything and I would use the momentum of my hips, all 33 1/2” of them, to swing my leg through. The result, more than 4 minutes off my best 10K time and I never felt like I was pushing hard or working against myself as I “normally” feel. I did not have the usual vomit feeling at the finish and I did not get cramps in my psoas. At the top of the Harlem Hills I was able to make a mental note to practice the east hills. I was not pushing as hard as I could, in fact I was not pushing at all, I was using my hips and shoulders to propel my legs and take note of how everything feels, that was my goal. That’s it. The last 200 meters my legs were getting pretty heavy and very cold, but no problem it was an experiment that yielded a positive result! I am far more body aware, I was tuned into everyone around me and for the first time I did not run myself into the ground but I ran much faster.
This is so cool, Thank you Kristen!
More about how I am learning about my hips in the next post and who else is helping me that.