Here’s how my taper is going (yes, Jamoosh, those are all microbrews):
In my quest to run a flawless marathon during which I meet me time goal, do not mess my pants. and feel energized and pain free the entire time, I have been doing some reading. Mentally preparing you could call it.
Last week, I referenced an article by Michael Bane called, “Breaking through the wall” (Men’s Fitness, 1999). There was discussion of pre-race brain training. Now it’s time to look at how to avoid the wall (i.e., an apparently insurmountable physiological barrier which stops you in your tracks), and if you can’t do that, then what to do when you hit it and hit it hard. We are assuming when your face slams up against that invisible vertical concrete slab, you will not consider quitting. It is simply not an option (unless you are injured, paralyzed, get your period or your legs fall off).
The following is from the same above-referenced article:
Five ways to avoid the Wall (but, there are no guarantees):
- Train realistically. Athletes have a remarkable talent for self-deception. The best way to know how you'll respond in a situation is to practice that situation first. If you're training for a marathon, at least one of your training runs needs to be 26 miles. If you're training for a race that takes place at night, some of your training needs to be at night.
- Cross train. The more you move toward harder endurance events such as a marathon, the more overall balance seems to pay off. I like to trade off sports (for example, biking and running) to keep my interest up and injuries down. The added plus is that my overall higher level of fitness helps carry me through longer events.
- Avoid judgments. Fine athletes talk themselves into quitting because they were running below par. You need to set these judgments aside on race day.
- Prepare mentally. Forget happy talk; you're going to hurt. But you know that already. In my mental rehearsals, I try to be as realistic as possible and acknowledge that it's going to be painful. I also remind myself that, despite it all, I've crossed a lot of finish lines.
- Plan flexibly. Remember, long athletic events tend to be chaos systems. You can't foresee everything nature is going to throw at you. Mental flexibility is your greatest tool for getting past the Wall.
Six things to do when you hit the Wall
- Say, “shit, shit, shit.” (I added that one)
- Keep going. "Program" yourself before the event that you're going to press on regardless, even if you're barely moving.
- "Table" your thoughts. The easiest way to quiet those negative thoughts is to set them aside. Sometimes I actually visualize a locker-like box, where I stuff all my negative thoughts away until I have the time and energy to deal with them.
- Get out of your head. Don't dwell on how amazingly awful you feel. Focusing on a really attractive woman running nearby can be a great distraction. I've done it, and it works. Hormones are wonderful things.
- Try bribery. Depending on just how bad you're feeling, a judicious dose of deferred compensation can help. I've gotten myself out of some grim times with the promise of a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food if l cross the finish line. (The bribes can get pretty big: At one point, I had to buy myself a motorcycle.)
- Open negotiations. Give yourself permission to quit if you'll only go another 10 feet ... another quarter mile ... even around the next corner. I have climbed entire mountains by cutting interim deals: "Another 200 vertical feet, then I'll sit down and reevaluate ..." After that 200 feet, it's, "Hey, I don't feel so bad ... maybe I'll go another 45 minutes and then I'll quit." Keep repeating this until you're so close to finishing that you can say, "What the heck? Let's wrap this puppy up."
I think it’s all great advice, especially the one about “getting out of your head.” I distract myself with attractive women as well.
The one point I take issue with is, “If you're training for a marathon, at least one of your training runs needs to be 26 miles.” This is a personal choice, but for me, running 26 miles is too hard on my body to do twice in one training cycle. My long runs (10+ miles) this training season were 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 11, 16, 18. 5, 18. 5, 13.