Yesterday I had one of my least favorite types of run…The Bonk. Does anyone enjoy a bonk? Adding insult to injury, it was short-distance bonk–only four miles. I should be able to negative split that every day.
But not yesterday.
With about 1.25 miles to go, that ol’ familiar feeling crept in. I knew I was not only going to have trouble knocking a minute off my current pace in the last mile, I was going to have trouble holding my current pace. It happens to everybody, and it’s part of running. When this happens to me, I try to make the best of it. I try to occupy my mind with thinking about all the ways this run is going to help me on race day. I have a little conversation with myself. It’s a very repetitive conversation, because I’m basically repeating the same thing over and over:
“Yes, this hurts. Ok, we’ve established that. Isn’t this what you expect to feel like on race day? Isn’t this the exact position you want to put yourself into with a mile to go? The only difference is that you want to be going faster. That’s the only factor that makes this situation different than race day. This is an opportunity to practice, and you can’t create this opportunity when you choose. You have to seize these rare opportunities when they come along.”
It makes sense, right? You run intervals to get your body used to the feeling of running fast. You run a lot of miles to get your body used to running tired. Why not also practice running bonked to get your mind trained to force your body to fight through The Wall? I do my best to pretend that I am running fast, and that’s the source of the pain.
It’s not a very easy thing to do though. You’re slowing down with every quarter mile, so it’s hard to keep from getting mentally discouraged. Sometimes, it’s hard just to not stop and walk. No one is watching. It’s not a race. This can just be a 3 mile run instead of 4. Right?
Then the conversations starts again:
“Are you going to make that a part of your race plan? Unscheduled walking? Do you feel good about the fact that you took unscheduled walks in your last race? Are you happy with the fact that these unscheduled walks cost you a PR by only 15 seconds? If you still want to walk, go ahead. But know that you are teaching yourself that it’s ok to give up. You’re training yourself to miss another PR by 15 seconds.”
Quitting eats peas.
Running through The Wall like a big fat Kool-Aid man rocks.