This past week I have been thinking a lot about my running. I still can't believe that I managed to run such fast races this winter. My brain is yet again a little slow in its ability to process what my body can do. And letting the body lead has been the trick this year, I think. You see, I have always been a cautious runner, as I have always been cautious in my life (no regrets, it has served me well:). I have always planned my training in a way that I thought would bring me to a goal. For a marathon, that meant running at least one 20 miler at MP. For a half, 10 miles at close to HMP. While this strategy was successful for the most part - it gave me confidence and control over my race - it also put limits to what I accomplished. I see it now.
Before I move on, I need to say that I do not believe in intuition. I think intuition is one of those overused and misunderstood pop psychology term. Intuition is so popular because our brains tend to remember the situations when our "intuition" was right, as opposed to the many other situations in which it was wrong. That, and Oprah!. I am very analytical. I like thinking. I like formulas (to the point where I even tried to convince my husband that he should create a formula to help him remove the random error from his picks in his fantasy basketball - to which he rightly replied that I should get my own team).
So when I heard many experienced runners and triathletes talk about throwing the Garmins away and running by feel I thought (silently) all of that was crap. My formula worked, my Garmin 2/3o5 never let me down, so why change things? Plus, running by feel seemed a bit like letting your "intuition" tell you what to do, and you know how I feel about intuition.
But then something happened this winter. With all my racing at Fresh Pond, and this horrible snow, I did not run my 10 miles @ HMP. I was a ball of nerves before the first HM race, had low expectations, and just went with it. I let go off the control. Shut my brain down. And I surprised myself. Then, I did the same at Quincy. Heck, my PR at Quincy was on a 6:46 average pace while my PR at Fresh pond was on a 6:40 pace for 5 miles! That would not have happened had I not let go.
I am not sure how to call the "let go", how to conceptualize and frame what I am trying to say. Perhaps this is the "running by feel" method. What I know is that my body gets fit quickly and my brain can't keep up with that. Sure, I can try to help my brain catch up to my body, and I have tried that strategy successfully for Baystate last fall. But I think what I did this winter may work even better: letting my body decide the pace, checking in with all the systems (breathing, strike, etc) that the pace is something that I can hold, and then convincing the brain to let go. As I write this, I see that I am trying to make this concrete and 'thinky", but it is not. It is a state of flow perhaps, where my body moves through paces based on terrain, checks in with all the systems and adjusts without conscious control. I can replay my last race in my head, and it is amazing that: 1) I listened to music but have no memory of the songs, and 2) I don't remember really pushing or thinking positively, or encouraging myself like I normally do in races. I remember that I just ran.
So the lesson here for me, is to let go, to think less and give my body control over the run. The body knows best. This does not mean that I am not going to run with my Garmin. I think the Garmin is very useful. However, it is a secondary tool. My body knows better! I get it now!
Building a clock
8 months ago