Why is the mental part of running so tough?

ebaymommy
ebaymommy Posts: 1,069 Member
You think after a time I'd be used to this, but I still struggle. I'm signed up to run my 5th full marathon in June. I'm shooting for a PR and a BQ and have been working hard to my strength and speed.

I haven't "officially" started my marathon training program yet but am loosely following what the schedule will be (as in at least one run of speedwork every week and a longer run on the weekends).

Yesterday I went out, the sun was shining and I felt so good. Ended up running 8 miles. When I checked my watch after it was all over I saw that my average pace was 8:22 which is pretty much to the second what my marathon pace would need to be for a BQ. Now, I felt great, but I did work hard on that run and when it was over and I saw my average pace all I could think of was "Man, there's no way in heck I could hold that pace for another 18.2 miles!"

I have 16+ weeks to convince myself mentally and prepare myself physically to do just that.....

Replies

  • arc918
    arc918 Posts: 2,037 Member
    BQ can be really tough, as many runners try to run a certain speed whether or not they are truly ready to run at that speed/pace. As a result, it can lead to some serious blow ups (guilty as charged). I know I spent more races than I care to admin by going out at BQ pace and trying to hold on. Being about to run it for 16 or 18 miles is very different than being able to hold it for 26.2.

    You need to get that proper mix of endurance and foot speed. Fast finish long runs can help. On a 20 miler, you might run the last 4 or 5 at BQ pace. Even better, say 3 at BQ pace and 2 or 3 more miles at BQ - 20 seconds (or something like that).

    Bottom line, you need confidence in that BQ pace. It needs to feel pretty easy.

    Good luck!
  • arc918
    arc918 Posts: 2,037 Member
    One more thing, if you are pacing off a Garmin (or other GPS device) you need to build in a "fudge factor." The course will almost always measure long (due to how courses are measured and the accuracy of the technolgy). Depending on the course, you can probably expect it to measure .2 or so long. That means if you need exactly an 8:20 (for example) to BQ, you may want to make sure your Garmin says 8:17 or something).
  • sakamanojr
    sakamanojr Posts: 378 Member
    I think big goals like Boston require a dedication to the daily work that needs to happen to meet the time qualification.
    Look at your training schedule and believe in how it is designed to peak your race time on the day of your marathon.

    Good luck in trying to qualify for Boston. That is a goal which is out of my reach so go get it done for all your MFP friends.

    Saka
  • Kilter
    Kilter Posts: 188 Member
    I suffer that same problem. Early on I get out and get to my goal pace for a shorter period (up to about 1/2 marathon range) and think... crap, that hurt, how can I do it n more times?

    The best advise I've heard comes from this quote by Scott Douglas, editor at Running Times:

    "In the first half of the race, don’t be an idiot. In the second half, don’t be a wimp."

    Know what you have to do in that first half of the race. Not just per mile average, but average per mile based on terrain (hills, terrain, etc...). Get a plan and stick to it, don't let yourself push out early and try and hold on.

    And do the training that focuses on the strong finish, running the last few miles at a goal pace - 20 or whatever you can hold. Teach your body not to be a wimp at the end, to be able to do what you need to do to make up for whatever has happened in the first 23 miles :)

    I'm no where near a BQ time myself, I hover around the 4 hour mark for my own personal speed. So perhaps I'm not the best person to advise, so take it with a grain of salt.

    S
  • arc918
    arc918 Posts: 2,037 Member
    I think part of the problem is that we run our times through the McMillan calculator (or your favorite result predictor) and we see that in theory are fast enough to hit our desired time. But we still have get our training done and execute on race day.

    You can't go out too fast. You have to race smart and manage your energy so you can hold pace for 26.2. Learning to run even or negative splits is really helpful. Heading out fast to "put time in the bank" generally doesn't work too well.
  • scottb81
    scottb81 Posts: 2,538 Member
    Depending on your weekly mileage right now, marathon pace shouldn't feel too easy because you are running every day in a pre-fatigued state. If your mileage is high enough for long enough then a proper taper will give you the energy to hold the pace.

    As far as what is high enough and what is long enough - i have heard that McMillan assumes around 60+ miles per week average for the 12 to 20 weeks prior to the race when predicting marathon times.
  • rybo
    rybo Posts: 5,430 Member
    Funny you brought this up, I was having similar thoughts just yesterday during my tempo run while thinking I hope to hold that pace for 3x the distance I did yesterday when I run my half.
  • grinch031
    grinch031 Posts: 1,679
    What is your current PR and weekly mileage?

    With the full marathon, I've found training volume is everything. My full time dropped off alot from my half time. So the only way I can predict what my full pace will be is based on perceived effort of my longest training runs.
  • ebaymommy
    ebaymommy Posts: 1,069 Member
    What is your current PR and weekly mileage?

    With the full marathon, I've found training volume is everything. My full time dropped off alot from my half time. So the only way I can predict what my full pace will be is based on perceived effort of my longest training runs.

    My current PR is 4:04. Right now I'm only running 20-25 miles a week, doing intense cross-training cardio 3x a week and lifting 2x a week. This time around I'm following Furman FIRST marathon training (starts next week). For my previous 4 marathons I've followed Hal Higdons plans. I have found for me, personally, I do better with a little less running (I used to cut at least 1 day a week out of Hal's plans) and a little more cross-training to avoid injury.

    The marathon I'm running in June will be one I've done twice before so I'm familiar with the course, which is good.

    I'm running a half-marathon in late April as well. I do want to add that my PR of 4:04 was run last year after I'd (stupidly) done a 20K just 2 weeks before and run it at maximum effort. I was really burned out by the time the marathon rolled around and not rested like I should have been. This time I'm not going to race that close to marathon day AND I'm in far better shape than I was last year.
  • Ruthe314
    Ruthe314 Posts: 18 Member
    I'm trying to combat this problem by taking a year off racing and just concentrating on enjoying the run. My mileage has naturally increased and I'm faster...I think just because of the joy of it!

    That being said, a friend once told me that training only gets you so far, 'till "grit and moxie" kicks in!
  • arc918
    arc918 Posts: 2,037 Member
    To the OP:

    What are your half marathon & 5k times looking like?

    Have your past marathons been run well (even or neg split) or have they been "go out way too fast and death march at mile 22" type efforts?
  • ebaymommy
    ebaymommy Posts: 1,069 Member
    To the OP:

    What are your half marathon & 5k times looking like?

    Have your past marathons been run well (even or neg split) or have they been "go out way too fast and death march at mile 22" type efforts?

    I don't have any really recent times to compare to. I ran that 20K last spring in 1:45. That was 8 months ago and I'm in a ton better shape. I've ran (more recently) a 10 mile run in December and a 5K over Thanksgiving weekend. The 5K wasn't timed officially, it was a fun run but if memory serves correctly I think I ran in about 23 minutes. The 10 mile run the roads were crap (snowy and partially ice/slush covered) and my average pace was about 8:30 per mile but I was not pushing it because the footing was so unsure during a lot of the run. I haven't run a 1/2 marathon in probably a year and a half.

    My past marathons - well my first one I slowed down after 20 miles. Throwing my 2nd one completely out because I was 15lbs heavier and badly out of shape. My 3rd I ran a slight negative split and really felt fabulous the whole time. Must hold on to the memory of that run when mentally preparing for this one. My 4th (last summer) was the one I ran that 20K too soon before the full, so that ended up being a death march from about mile 21 on. Not an experience I wish to repeat.
  • what923
    what923 Posts: 100 Member
    I've done this lots of times- actually right now! The speed workouts in my training...going 3 miles at race pace and feel like I'm really pushing it- how the heck do they think I'll do that for 13.1! But I try to listen to my heart- literally! On my long runs- I don't go as slow as the plan calls for. I run to keep my HR in mid 150s which I know is a pace I could maintain for a very long time. I have to have faith that the mileage conditioning along with the speed work will get me where I need to be. But as I've also learned- I will not go out too fast! First .5-1 mile at 30+ slower than pace just to warm up...then monitor the HR and stay in a low zone first couple of miles. Then get into the high 160s most of the race- where it's a push but not overexertion and for the last couple just burn out what I have left- ignoring HR. If the time comes on that performance then I trained well- if not...I'd rather enjoy the race than kill myself trying to make pace. There is always another race. Remember there seems to be something magical about races too and running to pass people for me seems easier than pushing by myself. Train-rest-fuel....you'll get there!
  • grinch031
    grinch031 Posts: 1,679
    Not to discourage you, but my numbers are similar to yours, and I don't think finishing in 8:22 is necessarily going to be an easy task for myself. It seems like your training volume may not be sufficient for reaching that goal as you'll see why below.

    I've been running for about 4 years, and while I've been continuously improving, its been a rather slow process due to my weekly mileage being less than ideal (20-35 mpw). My 10K and Half times have been respectable (usually top 10% at races), and I emphasize higher-intensity training runs to make up for lower volumes. My PR for the half is 1:38 from about 4 months ago. Just last weekend I ran 15 miles at what I consider a moderate pace and my average pace was about 7:55. Usually I'll run about 7 miles in a session and average pace is 8:15 or less, and I never consider it difficult unless I throw in some intervals or something.

    Anyways over a year ago I got a 3:55 in a full which was about 8:57 pace if I remember correctly. My McMillan marathon time is supposed to be around 3:30. So I under-performed big time compared to my shorter distances. While you can get by on 20-25 mpw for a Half and beat most of the crowd, I just don't think its enough to deal with the added endurance needed for a full to get a respectable time. I'm doing 35-45 mpw right now, and I think my goal is about 3:40 which is close to your goal. Now I'm going to aim for 3:30, but my expectations are low for that. I just think there's a point in distance where there is no substitute for volume, and the marathon is certainly beyond that distance. I've tried all the short cuts because I really don't want to devote my entire life to running, but I love the marathon challenge, but I realized I need to set my expectations a little lower.
  • grinch031
    grinch031 Posts: 1,679
    Another thing to note about Boston, is that the qualifying times have changed. I think you must now qualify for the new times, because I believe it is too late to qualify for 2012 Boston. Also they have changed it so now the faster runners get priority, so its possible you could qualify and still be denied entry.

    For your age, you will need a 3:35, and I need a 3:05 (way unfair) under the new standards.

    http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/qualifying.aspx
  • ebaymommy
    ebaymommy Posts: 1,069 Member
    Not to discourage you, but my numbers are similar to yours, and I don't think finishing in 8:22 is necessarily going to be an easy task for myself. It seems like your training volume may not be sufficient for reaching that goal as you'll see why below.

    I've been running for about 4 years, and while I've been continuously improving, its been a rather slow process due to my weekly mileage being less than ideal (20-35 mpw). My 10K and Half times have been respectable (usually top 10% at races), and I emphasize higher-intensity training runs to make up for lower volumes. My PR for the half is 1:38 from about 4 months ago. Just last weekend I ran 15 miles at what I consider a moderate pace and my average pace was about 7:55. Usually I'll run about 7 miles in a session and average pace is 8:15 or less, and I never consider it difficult unless I throw in some intervals or something.

    Anyways over a year ago I got a 3:55 in a full which was about 8:57 pace if I remember correctly. My McMillan marathon time is supposed to be around 3:30. So I under-performed big time compared to my shorter distances. While you can get by on 20-25 mpw for a Half and beat most of the crowd, I just don't think its enough to deal with the added endurance needed for a full to get a respectable time. I'm doing 35-45 mpw right now, and I think my goal is about 3:40 which is close to your goal. Now I'm going to aim for 3:30, but my expectations are low for that. I just think there's a point in distance where there is no substitute for volume, and the marathon is certainly beyond that distance. I've tried all the short cuts because I really don't want to devote my entire life to running, but I love the marathon challenge, but I realized I need to set my expectations a little lower.

    My mileage will be higher. I haven't started marathon training yet. I will not be running 20-25 miles per week during training.
  • ebaymommy
    ebaymommy Posts: 1,069 Member
    Another thing to note about Boston, is that the qualifying times have changed. I think you must now qualify for the new times, because I believe it is too late to qualify for 2012 Boston. Also they have changed it so now the faster runners get priority, so its possible you could qualify and still be denied entry.

    For your age, you will need a 3:35, and I need a 3:05 (way unfair) under the new standards.

    http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/qualifying.aspx

    Well crud....I need to get older! Well, maybe my BQ will have to wait until next year when I turn 35 and get that 5 extra minutes. :)
  • grinch031
    grinch031 Posts: 1,679

    My mileage will be higher. I haven't started marathon training yet. I will not be running 20-25 miles per week during training.

    Yeah I just went by the limited details I had. Just wanted to make sure you weren't underestimating the volume needed.