Training for races is not always fun. Let’s face it, we all as runners, have different ways to deal with frustration.
There are often times it is boring, extremely challenging and you often wonder if you will ever get into great shape.
How many times have you taken a few weeks off or, like me, you have taken off a few months thanks to a military deployment and think you’ll never get back into race shape?.
You think back to runs you have done in the past when you were on cloud nine, when every step was effortless.
Have you ever done your long runs where everything seemed like you were on autopilot?
In comparison, how have you felt when you have taken a long break from competitive racing? How has your mindset changed? Do you question yourself more often when you are unfit then when you are in great shape?
If this has happened to you, you are not alone. The truth of the matter is, there are far too many of us who waste precious mental energy trying to rush the process.
What I learned most from Lisa Rainsberger, my former coach and last American female to win the Boston Marathon, was simply, let go of the stress and handle what you have control of.
There is no sense in making yourself a miserable wreck in the early stages of training when if your are just patient the fitness you once had will return.
There are a few ways to deal with frustration with early training buildup that can help you significantly.
1. Let go of those things in your life that have you have no outside control of. Worry is number one. The sooner you let go of this the better.
You were once doing your runs at 7.30 pace and now your struggling to hit 9.00 pace. Early on, this should be no surprise. It certainly doesn’t mean you will not get back to where you once were.
2. Unwaver in your focus. In the magical power of focus, Leo Babauta states,
If you can’t maintain your focus, you won’t achieve the goal, unless it’s such an easy goal that it would have happened anyway. It’s that simple.
3. Talk to friends who have been where you currently are. Sometimes just talking with another person can bring you back into balance.
A kind word from a friend can go a long way and talking your frustrations over with people who care about what you do as an athlete will give back so much to your mental state.
4. Stay positive. It is very easy to get down on yourself early on in your training when every run seems to be a chore.
Know nothing happens overnight and in just a few short weeks you will gain from every run you put in.
Supercompensation will occur but you have to maintain positivity through the tough stages of early training.
5. Think about your goals. What is it you want to accomplish? Are you wanting to hit a specific goal time in a race?
What are some of the things you can do in training to bring that to fruition? Is dropping to a particular weight your goal?
Always think and envision how you will feel, how strong you will be, how much happier a person you will become by the simple fact that you put all your heart and attention to the goal in mind, that you were in control of that early stage frustration.
You didn’t let it get the best of you and cause you to quit before all the physiological adaptations occurred. You must always be resolute, never waver in your pursuit.
This is so utterly important.
I cannot state this fact enough. It has helped me so many times over the years in my own training, especially in those first few weeks of build up when I feel like I can barely get through an 8-mile run.
You have to constantly be envisioning your goals and dreams. Let them challenge you, hold you accountable to get out the door when you don’t want to.
If you can, find a group in your town or city that you can join. Sometimes just having another person who is trying to do something in the sport that you want to achieve can pay huge dividends down the road.
I was fortunate in that I had those types of athletes to train with when I was a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program in Colorado Springs.
There were workouts I did there that I simply I would have had a much harder time of achieving had I trained alone.
Never waver early on. I know it is tough, but know this, physiological adaptations always occur. The great thing is fitness comes back relatively quick despite longer breaks from training.
You need some down time from hard training and racing anyway to rejuvenate yourself. Stay focused, don’t lose hope, always know your success and happiness are things in your control at all times.