What’s My Problem?

Today I ran a local 10k as a fun run rather than racing. I’m only 2 weeks past my marathon, and my legs have that not so fresh feeling. I noticed after my first marathon that I felt relatively spry the week after the race, but two weeks later more fatigued. Anyone else have this experience?

Anyway, I ran this race last year and had a lot of fun. There are a ton of bands on the course. The weather was perfect — sunny and low 50s.

My legs were feeling heavy for the first half. My splits were 8:04, 8:07, 8:20. During that third mile I entertained the thought of walking, which was silly. I was thinking: “Hey, it doesn’t matter because I’m not running for time.” But then I redirected with: “If you can run a freaking marathon wanting to puke for the middle 10 miles, you can soldier through this, you wimp.”

The second half of the race includes a significant hill starting just before the mile 5 marker. I run it on a regular basis, and my best time up it was 10 days before the Nike Half Marathon last month. Today was my second fastest time, but slower by a good 13 seconds. I positive split the race a tiny bit (25:25/25:33). My splits for miles 4 through 6.2 were 8:08, 8:14, 8:45, 7:17 (.2).

3rd place in my age group of (as MaybeMarathoner says) 40-44 she-beasts.

All-in-all, I am happy with my run today. I felt comfortable through most of it except the hill and the final .2. I managed to PR the distance in a race by 7 seconds, which considering this course was much hillier than my previous PR and I’m still in recovery mode from the marathon, I consider a win.

So, here’s my issue: I never perform as well in races as I do in training runs. And when I am happy with my race performance, it’s almost always because I ran it easy rather than race. My best 10k time is 48:13, which I ran at the end of a 15 mile training run.

In other words, I have mental issues. WTF.

Granted, I clearly need to spend more time warming up before shorter distance races because it takes my body a bit of time to get into a pace. But honestly, I know it’s a psychological crap out that ruins my races. Suddenly paces that usually feel alright feel too hard to sustain. I panic that I will run out of gas. I become convinced that I suck and shouldn’t bother trying. I cave to the pressure I put on myself for a certain time. I wouldn’t be shocked if half my stomach problems in both the Disney Wine & Dine half and the Providence Marathon were due to nerves.

I’m not sure what to do to make me mentality stronger. I guess keep racing until I stop psyching myself out. I’d just like to live up to my training for once.

31 thoughts on “What’s My Problem?

  1. Martha B says:

    Nicely done, especially fresh off of a marathon. I can definitely relate to a lot of your issues – the ass end of my “long slow” training runs have birthed some of my best PRs. I’m clueless as to how much I need to warm up before shorter distance races because I don’t usually feel in my stride until about 6 miles, but I want to be faster than “my stride” for say a 5k or 10k. Either way, way to she beast it, here’s to many more PRs in the future.

    • Thanks. I’m still a pretty new runner, so the whole warm up thing is still weird to me too. Last year warming up would’ve been too much for my green legs (well, as green as 44 year old legs can be) when combined with a race after. It’s a learning process, I guess.

      • Martha B says:

        Oh I’m with ya. I just started around this time last year, too, and it’s so weird the things we pick up along the way.

  2. don’t be so hard on yourself life too short and if keep thinking like that youre gonna stop enjoying running and gonna have too many regrets and what ifs. running is a journey and the hare often looses.

    • You’re right. I often wonder why I race, but I really enjoy training and like a goal at the end. It would be horrible to fall out of love with running because I put too much pressure on my race times. I want to work on my attitude.

  3. You’re changing a lot of mental bad habits that have nothing to do with your racing. The racing brings it out. Competing has a lot of triggers, at least it does with me. NM always competed with me, in everything. She even owned some of the same outfits I did when I was in high school. I was punished for “winning.” I don’t know if that’s the mind block you’re dealing with, but since we have similar histories, I’m throwing it out there as a possibility.

    • There is probably more than a little truth to that. I have a lot of tall poppy syndrome issues (being successful meant my mom would find some way to take me down a notch or 20). At least I’m pretty much over my hesitation to pass people :)

  4. First, remember the group is 40-44 GORGEOUS she-beasts, you sexy thing. And you did wonderful! The thing is, you are still a newbie runner (albeit a crazy fast one that I long to hate but just can’t bring myself to :-) ). Try not to think of it so much as mental issues, and more just as adjusting to racing. You don’t want to get too hung up on it (running is so much mental), and it is such a common thing. I’ve been the same way ever since I crashed during my April half in the heat, and when I got a little nauseated and dizzy during my half last weekend I almost went into a panic attack and shut the whole run down. Like a baby. A big non she-beast baby. Hang in there…your best race times are ahead of you!

    • GORGEOUS! I knew I was forgetting a word. I absolutely love that you say that. I always wanted to be a she-beast.

      I’ll try to manage not thinking so much about it. I always run better when I’m relaxed about it, it’s just hard to force myself to relax.

      I’m still amazed you did those three half marathons back to back and didn’t go crazy. You gorgeous she-beast, you!

  5. I get that mental pressure thing too. I’ve been way too close to PRing a distance on a training run, and that usually includes warm up, so I know my last splits of a training run are better than my last splits of a race. I think the main issues for me are starting out too fast (not too fast that I can’t sustain it, but too fast that I don’t have the energy (mental and physical) to push more on the second half). And also training harder than I should, which I’m trying to balance out.
    With all of this being said, we should really enjoy running more! Race results are not as important as the actual journey to health, strength, and feeling great.
    Congratulations on your PR, well done!

    • I think I still panicked in races about whether I can sustain a pace, but when I’m training I don’t worry about it because so what if I can’t? I need to trust myself a little more.

      I agree we should be enjoying ourselves more! I love training and it’d be nice if I could more consistently love racing too. It’d also be nice if I could run as fast as you, but, um, not there yet. ;)

  6. You did great! (Especially with tired marathon legs!) Nice job on the AG award!
    I am 100% with you on the pre-race warm up. I finally have started to do this before my shorter races and I can see a very big difference in my performance already. For our really long ones it doesn’t so much matter because you can spend the first part of the race doing all that. For the shorter distances, I definitely need to wake my legs up first.

  7. Someone once told me, “Getting older sucks”. :) Also, my son has taught me to warm up before a race. We usually run about 2 miles before a 5K and a mile or so before a half. I’m not sure if that helps, but I certainly doesn’t hurt. Just my older 2 cents! :)

  8. tundrawoman says:

    “during the third mile I *entertained the thought* of walking *which was silly*”
    “it doesn’t matter because *I’m not running for time*”
    “I REDIRECTED with….you can soldier through this *YOU WIMP*
    “I PANIC I will run out of gas”

    Youtube: Ollie Mathews 4-12-12
    “Narcissist Recovery: Re-Evaluating Your Thought Process.”

    • Reading the way you wrote that makes me realize my head isn’t in a very nice place.

      I’m actually struggling a bunch with unfavorably comparing myself to others too. I’m glad I can see what I’m doing, but the emotions are still there despite some corner of my head knowing I’m being unfair to me. My mither’s voice is in my head. :(

      • tundrawoman says:

        We can know everything there is to know intellectually about a phenomena, it’s etiology, natural progression etc. However, the ability to actually incorporate that in our daily lives is a whole different level of challenge (and courage) because it means we’re gonna have to start doing something very uncomfortable behaviorally to confront those voices in our heads, to successfully find and use the “Delete” key.
        “Today I ran…as a fun run rather than racing.” As an observation, I don’t think ACs have a clue beyond intellectually understanding what “fun” actually feels like in action. You’re running every race as if your very self is “On Trial” for your very life. I would have encouraged you to (gasp) WALK when the thought popped into your head in response to the heaviness in your legs. You would have felt absolutely awful doing it, but I can be an insistent old broad when I know that confrontation with “The NP Tape” is offering you an opportunity to go on and confront it-*every single time* it rears it’s ugly head in a “Fun Run.” And keep doing this until it doesn’t feel horrible at all: It feels like an emotional shrug, it feels minimally indifferent emotionally. It’s gonna take awhile and so what if it does? There are opportunities to run-and race-every single day. The opportunities to confront the psychological part of this challenge, to confront self-sabotage and residual tapes are there as well. When you’re “stuck,” it’s not always physical in origin.
        Remember what a fraud you felt like when you were referred to as an “athlete?” And now you know not just intellectually, you are: Your Identity made a major shift. How did that evolve? Over time-and confrontation with a mild “reminder” of being the last kid picked for any kind of group sports activity etc. You’re now ready to confront a much deeper part of the Legacy. Thinking about it isn’t the same as doing it: This is much, much harder and takes a great deal of courage-which you’ve already demonstrated you possess in abundance. You don’t want to loose the joy you’ve found in running. But you don’t want to run yourself right out of an activity that’s done so much for you and in your recovery in every way. The biggest challenge IMO is finding the middle of the road between self-discipline and self-destruction. You don’t need anyone coaching you who’s beating you up mentally in *any* way-you’re doing a fine job of that all by yourself.
        Ex: It’s OK to walk in a self-designated “Fun Run.” You’re not gonna like actually DOING it. But doing it over and over again and experiencing temporary feelings of “wimp” and replacing that feeling/thought with the opportunity to hear *yourself,* develop compassion for yourself, actually experiencing nothing “bad” is gonna happen, honoring all of your feelings that are genuinely your’s-NOT someone else’s-is IMO one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.
        I know you’re not gonna like this suggestion AT ALL-it won’t be “fun.” And it’s OK if it never is-BUT if completely removing the self-sabotaging never happens at the very least, you’ll have a genuine tape authored by YOU in the here and now, not implanted decades ago by someone else who destroyed what “fun” really meant in action or sabotaged your ability to compete successfully. The competitive part of you, the continual striving towards achieving your goals will rebel in a huge backlash: The stronger the backlash, the stronger the reality this is the core mental challenge. This eclipses and concurrently informs “The Athlete” part of your Identity.
        From one lil’ dedicated overachiever AC to another, I *still* remember the first time I behaviorally confronted the Legacy and the horrible feelings that accompanied it. Initially, they were over-whelming. Over time as they diminished and were replaced with a much more honest, authentic self-authored “self” it became absolutely the best “gift” I ever gave myself. But I had to go through those over-whelming feelings of “looser” etc. first.
        That was decades ago. I’m still reaping the benefits.
        (Sorry for the epically long “comment!” Don’t know how to make it shorter-you’re “The Editor!” ;) )

        • You’re so right on so many levels here. In fact, what you wrote hit me hard enough to make me a cry a little. In a good way. Sometimes it helps just to feel understood. I think I may write an entire post around this because I need to address it. I’m not sure about forcing myself to walk, as you correctly guessed. But I think I may need to do it. It’s good that I’ve realigned some of my running goals for June to be “have fun” for my races.

          For so much of my life I was told I wasn’t doing my best even when I WAS. it really fucked with my head and has made me unable to properly assess my own performance. Sometimes I shouldn’t even be assessing my performance!

          TW, I’m so grateful to you, you don’t even know how much. Thank you. (Will you be my mother ;) ?)

          • tundrawoman says:

            I.would.be.HONORED! Truly!

            “For so much of my life I was told I wasn’t doing my best even when I WAS. it really fucked with my head…” (You brought tears to MY eyes with this-and I’m not a cryer at all.) Please, if you have the time and inclination to do a Post on this it would be so helpful, IMO. These recurrent themes we encounter as the result of growing up Cluster B “Parented” absolutely play out in our lives (even years later) globally. This is not about “Blaming” the CB parent but rather recognizing beyond an intellectual level how that plays out in our daily lives and HOW we go about making genuine changes/shifts in our Identity as a result.
            Your CB “Mother” stomped all over her beautiful, unique little child with a PATTERN of behavior and messages that severely compromised and shaped your/our Identity-Ex: You couldn’t “fly” because you’re just gonna crash and burn-that’s exactly what “I” expect, you’re such a “wimp,” a PITA, a “looser” a “disappointment” in EVERY way-but you BETTER go ahead and try as hard as you can to please me and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll love you/accept you etc.-but probably NOT. This is such an example of the effects of conditional CB parental love and classic double bind we experience over and over again. It’s devastating. There’s not a part of our Identity that remains untouched as a result. This Legacy DOES hang around and color our worlds/Identity for years after. How could it NOT?
            PV, I love your humanity, your humility your genuineness, your authenticity, and your COURAGE. Where you see “failings,” I see the courage to even begin to confront the reality this isn’t about running per se, it’s about running for your proverbial life. It’s not just about “Personal Best” in a race, it’s about PERSONAL TRUTHS, the Legacy, how they manifest themselves in our daily lives/activities and how we *actually go about* the rigorous work-out required to create a lasting and authentic Identity shift at a deeply personal and meaningful level.
            Thank you so much for sharing over these last years through your Blog and activities of your daily life, the good, the challenges, the successes and the ability to truly begin to confront and transcend the Legacy of the mess we were born into and were truly powerless to change-at that time: They do us a number, PV, oh do they ever…
            Once you open the door to self-awareness you can’t slam it shut: You step over the threshold and start looking at the “contents” in that room, slowly, carefully and with the same courage you’ve already demonstrated repeatedly.
            It’s an Opportunity, an Invitation to dig deeper and examine more clearly the boogey-man (woman) who still haunts our Souls and HOW we can change that. Sometimes an activity-like running-isn’t about our “Personal Best” but about having the courage to become the Best Person we can and are meant to be, despite the circumstances of our births.
            With Unconditional Love,

  9. I dont know why you are always so hard on yourself…YOURE AWESOME!! Anyway, Ive always been a true believer in the saying “You can only run what you are scheduled to run that day”. If you were only set up to run a 10k, then your mind wont allow you to go one more mile beyond it…No matter what you are capable of!!:)

  10. TR says:

    Hi PV, I am working on the self-sabotage too. That is difficult to move through it, when we now know the origin of it, understand the intellectual stuff of emotions and recognise the emotions and then it plays out in trying to reach a certain goal. I’m not certain whether this fits your situation – I’m finding I do compare myself to others and often to an extreme b/c I learned that is a way to measure achieving a goal, also, the ‘fumbling’ around process of achieving a goal such as exploring, investigating, adjusting, etc were not processes that were allowed growing up for me. So, now with my own personal goals, I find the ‘upsets’ hard to navigate when in fact in achieving any long-term goal requires these processes. I think it is okay for a race to be different and feel different and it is also okay for some races to be the exploring or adjusting part of the long-term goal. I don’t mean to assume this is what is going on in your situation. I feel like I understand what you are going through especially as I’m working on my own personal goals and find myself struggling as well. Hugs, TR PS I hope the legs get the fresh feeling soon.

    • I’m definitely having trouble with comparing myself unfavorably to others. To the point that I’m wondering if I should stop reading so many running blogs because I use their successes to beat myself up. As you said, it’s important to use our “failures” (I use this loosely to mean not achieving our precise goal) to help motivate rather than devastate. I think it’s a credit to us that we continue to get back up despite being taught that we should stay knocked down where they want us.

      I’m excited to hear you’ve made some goals for yourself and are working towards them. I’ve found it to be a huge step in getting better (obviously I’m not there yet) from the damage of narcissistic abuse. As TW wrote, it’s fighting the voices that don’t belong to us that were installed at an early age. I hope you’re able to find some joy in your new goals AND the process of getting to them. :)

  11. You did awesome. Really. And I can relate to the self sabotage thing. One thing I tried in just the last few years was to say “WHAT IF I can keep pace? Don’t finish the race with regrets. Just do what you’re trained to do”. The positive thoughts without pressure really can make a difference. And I used to think people who ran BEFORE a race were crazy. Now I do (was only because my coach told me to, not on my own accord) and it really can help loosen you up.
    And give yourself a good month post-marathon to really feel “normal”, whatever that is!!! I certainly don’t know.

      • I’m still pretty mad at what happened in Boston, but I came away knowing that I did run my best for as long as I had electrolytes. Going into a race knowing that it just might be possible that I run really well and then coming away from it knowing I did my best is a good feeling. And you may just want a temp tattoo…. Try it on first ;) Bit it’s true, it just might be possible that you race for your training. Stay positive. You rock.

        • Lol.. I’ve got a couple tattoos that took me forever to decide on where and what, etc. I’m not sure I want “what if” on me unless I had it done in Sanskrit or something pretty. But I could write it in sharpie on race day.

          Thanks for this. Hearing your words is really helping me shift my perspective in a positive way.

  12. I also used to have some nervousness and anxiety once the race started, but I learned that most important thing in any area of life is not how you perform, but to enjoy the journey and feel happy with who you are. Don’t be too harsh on yourself! You are awesome!

  13. Syd says:

    I also think that you are awesome. You have done so much that is amazing in your running. Not many people have the ability to run a marathon. You have it.

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