Thursday, January 28, 2010

Training the Brain ....

Biggest Loser week #3, all I can say is: LOOKING GOOD!
Top 5 Weekly Winners:
3 - 3.33%
2 - 3.36%
1 - 4.41%
The Overall Leaders:
3 - 5.88%
2 - 6.12%
1 - 6.81%

YES!! I have to admit, I was kinda surprised by the spike in weight loss this week; seems that frustration with lack of progress can sometimes cause one to give up or at least question what the purpose is if ample gains are not seen. Sometimes when we see poor results, we tend to give up easily and throw in the towel, feeling there’s no point, we can’t do it. So I’m pretty stoked at the progress this week.

I know for me, as a runner, sometimes a disappointed race performance gets me down and I question why I keep pushing myself if I can’t make the mark everytime. I’m 46 and I’ve been racing since my teens. I always say there comes a point in your racing where you just reach your limit; age is the enemy of serious runners. How many 80-year-olds do you see out there winning marathons, or any other big-time races out there?

Like other older, overcommitted but still competitive runners, my goal in racing these days is not to set personal bests with each event. I’m trying to shift my thoughts from PR’ing to just doing my best and seeing where I land. My weakness in running has never been training; I can train so much that I’m seriously overtrained much of the time. No, my problem has always been the demons in my head shadowing me with doubt and fear. Dangle a carrot of a specific race time, and I start to stress. Ah, yes, my legs have never been my problem. My complication has always been the monsters screaming in my head: I might fail; I might succeed, and what that means. Succeeding might be scary, after all, for what it means at the next race. Or succeeding might hurt too much; can I run through all the pain? Pain hurts. How do I mitigate the stomach cramps I notoriously get? How do I do this, how do I do that…yada yada yada, blah blah blah….the list can be endless. It’s more than just nerves, it’s anxiety. And I’m ridden with it.

How ironic that as I sit and write this blog, the new edition of RW has a featured article of the one and only Kara Goucher with these very issues. “Her head has always been messed with.”

Ah, I know her pain!

So as I train my legs for Boston, I am also training my mind. My goal is train as fast as I can, train as much as my body allows, and still not get injured. I know I still have PR’s in me, but I no longer want to dangle that time out there and stress over trying to achieve it every race. Those of us who achieve this elusive balance will enjoy a small miracle.

One of my favorite all time books, for training schedules AND mind training strategies to work through the fatigue of endurance sports is: Brain Training fro Runners. I’ve mentioned this book a time or ten but seriously, I love this book. Page 161 has helped me though many a marathons; I re-read that page and those around every marathon eve.

My BL contestants remarkable achievements surpassed my wildest expectations and got me fired up; I hit the gym today and vowed that I will not give up Boston without a fight because I want to see what’s left in me. I may not land a PR there - or I may- who knows, but I will go to Boston with no stone left unturned. I will run those stinking tempo runs (ugh); I will eat the ridiculous amounts of protein (I heart me a morning protein shake!) and stop eating crap when I’m tired; I will hit the monotonously boooooorrrring gym (and might even pick up a weight that is heavier than 5 lbs); and okay okay, I’ll even add stretching daily (did I just say that???) and I’ll listen to the ole bod if it screams, dare I admit it, for me to slow down and let it rest. Eeks, that word rest just caused my heart rate to raise, rest’s a word that hadn’t hit my running vocabulary much so y’all may need to reel me in when I get out of control. Whop me on the side of the head if you must!!!! For me, at least, the best compromise is fewer running workouts but better ones: zippy, hard-charging miles that make me feel like a sprinter, not a slogger. That gets me home sooner, with my sadly aging human infrastructure intact to run another day. My plan, as a type A runner, is to emphasize quality of training. Running, say, three tough workouts a week and going easy on other days will give me better results, in less time and more safely, than slogging through lots of mileage at a mediocre pace. Adding slower, reduced mileage recovery runs on days for the strengthening and stretching exercises I know I need but have been ignoring, or not pushing to my true capacity.

So yeah…this week the Biggest Losers pumped ME up. Who would have thought! But how good it feels!!

Feeling good and strong as I approach 12 weeks to Boston. I think my new shoes have made a huge difference in my knee issue I was having. That weird little tug I was feeling behind my knee is gone (and I’m sure more stretching is just a fluky coincidence). I do have some odd, mysterious numbness just below the knee cap on my left leg. Yes, same leg. I’m just going to ignore it cuz it doesn’t hurt, it’s just the opposite. Now, if I can just get my mind, body parts, and fatigue to follow the same numbness suit, I’m all set for Boston!!!!

Below is a recent pic of me and the kiddos. A quick story behind that picture: I am going to be a quoted, as a running coach, in a book a couple friends have written about the progression from one level of racing to the next. I will plug their book more in upcoming blogs, so be forewarned, but I am pretty excited for them; they wanted a picture of me and my kids. The book is called: Run Like a Mother, and thus, they wanted a pic of me and the kiddos. So there ya go! (and yes, the boys are twins. I know, they don't even look like brothers. I swear my 48" waist carried them to week 34 and they were both in there cooking at the same time - and I have the scares to prove it!)
And finally, my friend, Adam ( is running Miami Marathon this weekend. It's only his 2nd marathon and his first was just a few weeks ago. Help me cheer him on!!! Run Adam RUN!!!!
The weekend’s approaching and long runs are abundant. I have 18 on the plan with the last 9 miles progressively getting faster. And my mind is actually okay with this!! Run strong, friends!


Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Great job motivating your BL group to put up impressive losses!

Great that they inspired you to committ to some serious goals yourself. I'd like to crack a sub 3:30 marathon (I came so close 3:32) BUT now I just look at PRs for the year since I usually run more than one of ______fill in the blank distances. And if a lifetime PR is set...amazing.

Keep up the great work.

Awesome that you are in the book! With a great picture of you and the kiddos. Good looking kiddos too!

AM! said...

Run Like a Mother- love the title and concept. That's very cool.
I found your blog through Meg- who mentioned your BF Bloggy Runners. ThAT is uber cool!

Mikey B said...

That is very encouraging to hear the Biggest Losers are still making progress. Stay on them and continue to provide the motivation they need.

I have to admit I don't stretch my legs as I should. Wish I could train myself to do that more often. And as for PRs, I simply hope to finish the Chicago Marathon on my feet and not in the back of an ambulance. :)

Thanks for being the mentor and guide we newbies need to succeed in our own personal quests.

saundra said...

Congrats to you for having a positive influence on the Biggest Loser contestants.
I love the Brain training book as well. Without having it on hand as I type this, I just bet pg 161 is the one that I have highlighted.
Thanks, Jill for being so honest and real and continuing to inspire slower runners like me.

ajh said...

You must be very inspiring to your biggest loser contestants. I have not read the Brain Training book but am going to go add it to my cart on Amazon!

Julie said...

Hi Jill,
I love the picture of you and your kids:) They are so beautiful and handsome!

You are going to go to Boston and do awesome! You are doing everything that you need to and will run like the wind:)

I hope that you have a great weekend Jill!

Teamarcia said...

I too am loving the Brain Training Book!
I am conflicted as well. Part of me wants to 'relax and enjoy' my races, while another insists I still have a marathon PR in me.
I'm SO pumped for Run Like a Mother! How cool you and the kiddos will be in there!
Here's to 12 weeks!

Pining for Pinterest said...

Glad to hear that it is going better! Great picture of you and the kids :-) I think that is interesting that you have been running so long! I hope to run a long time too :-) I did start a little late though!

Anonymous said...

Brain Training Book. I need to check that out.

Jen Feeny said...

This post got me fired up to! I must check out that book! You are an inspiration, seriously, to have been running as long as you have and still respect the distance and still deal with the fear... awesome!

You are going to rock Boston! I'll be at the finish line cheering, def look out for me if you can see past the after glow! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout, I am so nervous for the race...and I can't even run to vent!!!
I will check out that book. I am almost done with my latest, so will need something to read next.

C2Iowa said...

You are the apitome of positive thinking. If it were not for good people, like yourself, those of us that are new to running would be missing out on something great.

Anxiety makes a home in most of us and you have found a way to deal with it. Well, done.

Marlene said...

Well-said! Wonderful comparison with the BL contestants and runners... it's so true that a lot of the time, it just comes down to our minds.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to see this positive report! You are inspiring them all to inspire others :)

Katie A. said...

You have me fired up for Boston, too! I am embracing all my workouts this week and although I am tired as a mo-fo I know that I am doing the work that I need to in order to get where I wanna go - Boston with a PR! Amazing as always Jill, you are amazing!
That pic of you and the kids is great - I can't wait to see this book - hopefully it will give me inspiration for when I finally decide to have kids and keep running.
Good luck on the 18're going to do awesome! I want to hear all about it - email me, k? (((huggss)))

Glenn Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenn Jones said...

Hopefully your BL folks are larning something about patience and perseverance.

Th best thing about aging up? Every five years you get to clear out the old PRs and reset!

Running Through Life said...

Congrats on the BL!

I've got the Brain training book sitting on my table. It's next in line to read.

RunToTheFinish said...

I have heard a lot about that book, but haven't located it yet..I try to get things at the library, but I think maybe I need to just buy this one!

Tricia said...

I loved the Kara Goucher article in RW. Actually I talked about that issue in my post today. (although for a totally different reason)

The Boring Runner said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by. I totally agree about getting the blahs now and again. It is funny how my thoughts go to a similar vein - "how much longer do I have PRs left in me?" But, then I go out there and kill a tempo run and all is forgotten.

Too cool that you're going to be quoted in a book!

Tara said...

You're going to be quoted in a running book? How cool is that?!?!!

You have a great looking family there Jill; you should be extremely proud. I know you are!

You are such an inspiring person, your biggest loser contestants must love you. I can't wait to work out with you again and if you want someone to run those sloooow recovery runs with you that you blogged about...well, I'm your girl!

It's nice to know that Kara faces demons just like the rest of us.

Heather said...

Your biggest loser peeps are doing great! I think mind training can be tougher than the physical training sometimes.

Run Jess Run said...

I just read that RW article a couple days's pretty interesting. It's also nice to know that those elite athletes freak out like the rest of us.

Unknown said...

Hey's so hard to get over the fears, doubts and what'ifs in a race but you're training so hard mentally and physically and you're going to be ready to ROCK this marathon because you can! You'll be prepared and ready to go and just think of how great it will feel to celebrate after too! I told Kara about you and she said she thinks you CAN and WILL have the time of your life and enjoy every single step of this upcoming race(jk, those are my words)!
Hope your long run went well and kick ass this week on your tempo it, bite it and eat it up!!! Grrrrrr !

Unknown said...

Round 2: Take away my camera? It's stapled to my hand so there is NO chance of that. Privacy isn't in my vocabulary...I blog, remember?

Jennifer said...

Yes! I know all about the mind games. Since I started training for my first marathon I have to deal with it all the time! Very well put!