As many of you know I truly enjoy the mental games of training, as well as race day. I love to analyze things, and the minds reaction to stimulation of any type is particularly entertaining/interesting. Don’t get me wrong. I do NOT enjoy stress and politics that are the negative effects usually caused by other people, and are not the type of”mind games” I am talking about. Here are some recent examples of what I dealt with these past two weeks.
Recently I went on a vacation with my family to the Grand Canyon. Prior to leaving I was forced to change up my training schedule to accommodate the travel and also to spend as much time with my family as I could. (My wife said, “NO RUNNING while on vacation!”.) This meant that I had to somehow fit as much running into less days as I could before leaving, while at the same time not getting injured from over doing it. My mind really kicked into high gear and tried to turn the entire thing into a losing situation, and “just forget about training”. I am the type of person that NEEDS my routines and schedules, or I simply go crazy and forget to do anything. So, mentally, to deviate from my set training schedule is the same as death. However, knowing this about myself allowed me to arm against it in advance. I changed my schedule in advance rather than on-the-fly. Therefore not allowing my mind to rebel. SCORE!!! It worked perfectly, and I still managed to fit 26 miles into 3 workouts in order to simply consider it a recovery week. Genius!
While at the Grand Canyon I was not allowed to run. However, that did not mean I could not hike a very…long…distance and consider it a side effect of the vacation. (smile) It was excruciating to think I was going to be enjoying such a beautiful place, and NOT RUN! For me running really helps embed the memories of places I visit. In the past I can clearly remember every place I have been if I run there. (I am sure some scientist would have fun with figuring that out.) I believe endorphins created by physical exertion help the brain retain much clearer memories, so there is more to this than just my “want” to run. On this trip I was still able to accomplish my task without running. I did this by adding 3 miles to the family 9 mile hike on Bright Angel trail. My wife and son turned around at Indian Garden at 4.5 miles to return to the rim, and I continued another 1.5 miles to Plateau Point. During the short 1.5 miles I pushed very hard, but did not run. It was enough exertion to create amazingly clear memories of that stretch of trail. I vividly remember stopping half way between Indian Garden and Plateau Point. There was nodody close to me for a whole mile in each direction, and there was utter silence so stifling it was like being in a vacuum. No cars, no planes, no voices, no wind, no NOTHING! It was just me and the desert as I stood perfectly still and memorized each part of it.
Upon returning home from the trip I was faced with another partial week for training, jet lag, and time zone changes. I WAS TIRED, though refreshed. However, since this was half way through a training cycle for my next marathon I could not let my mind and body slow me down…much. I still managed to cram 34 miles over 5 workouts while recovering. Now these obstacles would have been enough to halt many people in their tracks and skip much of the training I did this week. But there is more. I was also informed, on my FIRST day back to work, that I no longer had a job. Yes, my mind was truly in a turmoil and I just didn’t feel like training at all. But in true “Adam” style I pushed through it and ran. I ran to relieve the stress, I ran to plan the future, I ran to lessen the jet lag, and I ran to prevent the storm that was brewing deep inside.
That was last week.
This week I have a few very hot leads for new employment, the jet lag and time zone adjustment are gone, the break down is averted, and the future is brighter.
Now I analyze, and run, as life moves on.