November 4, 2011

Confidence Mood Swings

This post was written by Andrea...

Logging some summer miles at 9K feet
in Mammoth Lakes, CA
One of the most challenging aspects of training for a race is dialing in your mental attitude. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities is so crucial. Not only is it important when toeing the line in a race, but it is just as important during training - speed workouts, tempo runs, and even easy days on tired legs.

Marathon training has so many ups and downs. One day I’ll feel like I am on top of the world and there is no way I will fail. Then the next day I am full of doubts that I will be able physically and mentally push myself to the limit. I call these my "confidence mood swings." The key is to keep those down swings to a minimum and allow the up swings to carry you through.

Jake and I are both inexperienced marathon runners. I have never run a marathon before and Jake has only run one (Utah Valley). So to go into the marathon feeling confident is no easy task, and we are working diligently at this task.

Here are some of the things we have done to boost our confidence and convince ourselves that we will CRUSH the marathon:

1) Smart training. My favorite running quote is “Believe in your training”. If you don’t believe in your training, why would you expect to believe in your abilities to race? Develop a plan that will make you both mentally and physically stronger. Although I do believe in setting ambitious goals, it is important to set realistic paces in workouts that are a challenge but also don’t encourage “going to the well.” That’s what races are for. If I am hitting my workouts right where I want to be at that time in the training cycle, there is no doubt my confidence goes up.

2) As the race approaches, focus on workouts you enjoy most and are the best at. Once you are only three weeks out, doing workouts that target your weakness will only serve to bring your confidence down. If there is one workout that makes you feel strong every time you do it, that will keep you mentally strong. For me right now, the confidence-boosting workouts are a 5k tuneup race the week before the target race, and a short marathon-paced tempo combined with 200m repeats on the track.

3) Looking back on how far you've come. We have made tremendous progress this past year in our running. Looking at the progression of strong workouts, the big mileage, and excellent race results is a huge confidence boost.

Andrea's 2011 weekly mileage - Jan to Oct
Jake's 2011 weekly mileage - Jan to Oct

4) Mental preparation. Throughout the training, Jake and I have both envisioned almost every scenario that could happen during the marathon and how we would handle it. We talk about and visualize hitting a tough patch, running solo, feeling tired, running one of the miles too fast or too slow, etc. To sum up how we would handle it - suck it up and keep running hard :-). This mental preparation is something that will most likely come into play in the actual race. We will be stronger during any rough patches because we will have expected it and will know how to respond. There will be no surprises on race day.

Andrea winning the TOU 1/2 Marathon
5) Envision how awesome it will be to hit that goal. Jake often practices his dance at the end of the race when he wins it (quite a spectacle) and typically puts a few Rocky punches in throughout his runs. To have a goal that means so much to you and would be so rewarding helps to push you through all that hard training and especially the race.

We are more than open to more ideas to boost that confidence!

1 comment:

  1. Andrea this is such a wonderful post. I truly appreciate you sharing this because these are tips that all of us can incorporate into our training. You and Jake never cease to inspire. Your dedication, ambition, and love for the sport is so motivating to me. Above all you are both humble and you are going to ROCK this marathon. You are both ready and I cannot wait for you to reap the rewards of your training.