Category Archives: Runnerd

Boston Marathon Training Week #3

One more week in the books! Boston is starting to feel closer and closer, and I kind of wish there was an extra two weeks or so to play with. Oh well. Quality is going to need to trump quantity in terms of miles and training days.

Step-back week must have: absurdly huge pancakes. To those of you who choose smoothies after long runs, I'm sorry.

Step-back week must have: absurdly huge pancakes. To those of you who choose smoothies after long runs for refueling, I’m sorry.

This past week was a step-back week, which in hindsight was a great idea. I’ve been building up mileage and fitness in general for the past month+ after having essentially no base, and I wanted to do a little tempering before continuing to add. My legs are a bit unpredictable at this point, and I’m trying to baby them as much as possible, as evidenced by the two rest days this past week and lack of much strength training.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 8 miles

This run was a little forgettable, but generally it was fine. I was glad to get in some decent weekday mileage again.

Wednesday: 45 minutes elliptical, 30 minutes stair-turner, lifting

I like to call this day: “Being Bored at the Gym.” Ugh. I wanted a good cardio workout but didn’t want to run two days in a row. The new issue of Runner’s World was the only thing that kept my sane. I was reminded of the days when I was much more of a gym rat than I am now, and I didn’t miss it at all.

Thursday: 7 miles

Gross, awful, no-good run. This was one of those runs where I was just so mad the whole time. Mad at my legs. Mad at my stomach. Mad at not feeling like a runner. I rallied by the end, but there was nothing encouraging about those 7 miserable miles.

Friday: 4,000 m swim

photo 1

For the first time in history I went to the pool after work on a Friday. But by some miracle, I was really into this swim. I guess subconsciously I’ve been craving some pool time, and I just kind of got lost in thought the whole time. I was definitely getting tired by the end, but otherwise this was a lovely swim. Yo’re welcome from my pruny fingers and mangled pinky.

Saturday: 12 miles

Mentally, this long run was very manageable considering it was shorter than I’ve been doing the past few weeks. And physically, it went well. I wore a watch again, and while I’m still far off of my “old” normal pace, it wasn’t too disappointing. Inching closer and closer back every week. I’ve been positive splitting my long runs like a champ recently, which shouldn’t be surprising at all, but I’m going to try and maybe spread out my effort a little more next week.

Good thing the dim lighting is hiding my Malbec-colored cheeks.

Good thing the dim lighting is hiding my Malbec-colored cheeks.

Sunday: Rest

I took an unplanned rest day yesterday, which I was fine with. My knee (not the recovering IT band-injured one) has been stiff this week, so I didn’t see a point in logging junk recovery miles. Instead, BF and I walked around Greenlake and I stretched a ton.

Total= 27 miles

Generally, it was a solid week, especially for a step-back week. I’d really like to be logging more miles, but I need to keep reminding myself of the end goal —Boston— and not immediately getting back to fitness I had four months ago. It will come, I just need to keep April 21 as my focal point for the time being.

More miles this week though, and an 18 mile long run as the grand finale. Starting to feel more like marathon training, and I like it.

Happy Monday!

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Boston…here I come?

Would ya look at that, we’ve reached the end of January.

Well, shit. I guess I’m training for the Boston Marathon now?

Based on my offical-yet-loosey-goosey plan I told you all about at the beginning of the month, now is the time that I should be officially “starting” to train.

I feel many things about this, but namely…I’m a little overwhelmed with uncertainty. And it’s not just my body and health I’m uncertain about, but perhaps scariest of all, my motivation.

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of training for and racing Boston is so bright and sparkly in my head. The thought of running the course on April 21 makes me giddy, and I’m very grateful for the chance to do so. However, it’s the getting-there process I’m a little more apprehensive about, which is consequentially putting a kink in my excitement to get into training.

Real talk: I’m really not used to not being in good shape. That probably sounds way more conceited than I intended it to, but it’s a fact of the matter. For years, most of my easy days were what would be considered a long workout to many, and I was always able to count on a very solid base of endurance and strength when approaching my training and races.

That’s not the case right now. My workouts are much shorter and less intense than “normal,” I’m not able to float through runs with any kind of ease, and muscles that I never even knew I had before have disappeared (namely: the entirety of my butt). Not that I’m surprised by any of this, don’t get me wrong. The mere fact that “training for Boston” is on the table is something I’m hugely thankful for. But, this new reality of starting from scratch has been a harder pill to swallow than I anticipated.

Because I’m sure we can all agree on this: running, going to the gym, taking a class, etc. is so much easier to do when you’re in good shape. Sure, sometimes we have lazy days, but there’s a whole new level of willpower needed when you know that you’ll be struggling through your workout rather than kicking its ass.

(Obligatory acknowledgement that all of this is all incredibly eye-roll worthy complaining. I get it. It’s so very first world and things could be and have been much worse. But this is my blog, meant to detail my experiences in running. Cool? Cool.)

So, in a nutshell, the fact that I’m having to garner way more motivation for runs that are generally not fun and yield much slower results than I’m used to means that I’m not exactly chomping at the training bit. Not to mention the ill-effects of the weather, the dark mornings, and my need for bathroom access on every run.

There are moments of hope though, which rekindle my memory of being a happier runner. This past weekend, for instance, I was able to run multiple times around a foggy, quiet Greenlake and it was perfection. I’m also running without pain, which I’m grateful for with every footfall. My IT band isn’t 100%, as in it’s still stiff and cranky whenver I sit down, but I’m confident that it will be near 100% before too much longer. Also, for the first time last week, I found myself enjoying (at least for a little bit) my favorite strength class which recently has been embarrassingly difficult.

So yes. Progress is being made. I just need to remember to celebrate the little victories instead of expecting to instantly regain all of my strength and speed back. To use the most cliche yet appropriate metaphor, “It’s a marathon…not a sprint.”

I know, I’m sorry

So yes, I am now training for Boston. My mode of operation hasn’t changed, in that I’m focusing primarily on staying healthy, regaining fitness, and getting myself to the start line. Despite my natural instincts to plan out paces and workouts and goal times, it’s not really the time for those things. This training cycle is going to be about learning different kinds of lessons, namely in patience, in letting my body be my guide, and in appreciating the journey.

My focus will be on spending the next three months experiencing marathon training from a different vantage point, one that I am hoping will make me a more complete and smarter runner. I’m hoping Boston will be a victory lap of sorts, in terms of celebrating both the joys and the struggles I will inevitably face during the process. Because the joys cannot exist without the struggles, and if I’ve learned anything from these past few months — it’s that a heavy dose of perspective can be a pretty transformative thing.

Here’s to learning along the way and appreciating the smaller victories. And, hopefully, there will be a wonderful run from Hopkinton to Copely Square at the end of it all.

I’m planning on documenting the weekly training, per usual. So look for those coming soon 🙂

So with a chip on my shoulder and a healthy dose of humble pie, let’s get this underway!

Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon Race Recap

Surprise! I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

This literally is "proof" I was there. No timing chip= ghost runner!

This literally is “proof” I was there. No timing chip= ghost runner!

Early last week, I was hit with the overwhelming desire to do a half that weekend. It just sounded fun—and I knew there was trail half I’d considered earlier this year, so I went to the website to check it out. Alas—the race was sold out, and so I decided to shelve my race desire and hold off until See Jane Run in July. That was the last I thought of doing a half marathon that upcoming weekend.

Then Friday morning came around. A coworker sent out an email to my office’s runner distribution list (yes, it exists) asking if anyone wanted her bib for Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll race. She is/was injured and didn’t want her entry to go to waste—essentially, the bib was up for grabs.

It took me all of five minutes to consider the offer, and after deciding that sacrificing a morning of sleeping in was definitely worth running a free race, I emailed her back and presto…I was running the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half! I had been planning on doing a long run that day anyway, so I figured I might as well get a medal in the process 🙂 Plus, I’d never done a Rock ‘n’ Roll race before, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about—especially if it wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg to do so.

It was definitely a low-stress race eve and morning. I didn’t do much to prepare ahead of time other than stretching a bit more on Friday night. And, considering that I’d run three days in a row already at that point, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of fast legs. But, that’s the price you pay for an impromptu race, so I went into it without much of a strategy other than to have fun and enjoy the race atmosphere. I also decided to try racing for the first time without headphones, mostly to see how it felt, but also to soak in some of the “rock ‘n’ roll” atmosphere.

Sleepy eyes but excited to run!

Sleepy eyes but excited to run!

BF dropped me off with plenty of time to meander around, find some blogger peeps, and get set in my corral without any stress. Luckily, I didn’t need the porta-potties because they had perhaps the longest lines I have EVER seen at a race. Yikes…happy to have dodged that potentially very stressful situation.

Photo courtesy of Stacie!

Photo courtesy of Stacie!

I was in corral 6 so it didn’t take too long before we were shuffled to the start line and were sent off. Woo, race time! I wasn’t wearing a timing chip, just my Garmin, and it was kind of fun to feel like a phantom runner. The beginning was crowded, and per usual a lot of weaving happened. It was inevitable, but apparently my pace was more panicked than I thought because once I was able to get past the crowds I was looking at a low 7:00s pace. Holddd up there homegirl, this is supposed to be fun.

Miles 1-3

I dialed in and tried to find my rhythm. To tell you the truth, those first three miles were kind of tough. My breathing was distracting me, and although I run without music a lot of the time, it’s normally at a slower pace, and I think race-day conditions got the better of my heart rate—consequentially increasing my breathing. Also, I was already hot—definitely not my favorite racing conditions. And by not my favorite…I mean absolute least favorite.

But I tried to relax, got excited when I saw the Oiselle/Nuun/runner gals a little after mile 2, and finally found a comfortable pace.

Here’s also where I admit that while I definitely didn’t have a set time goal, I still wanted to use the race as an opportunity for pacing practice. So while shooting for another ~1:40 was tempting, I decided that aiming for just a sub-8:00 average would be both more feasible and more constructive.

1-3

Find the up and down hills!

Clearly, I was all over the place, and I really wanted to work on just getting comfortable and cruising.

Miles 4-8

We circled away from downtown at this point and headed on a long stretch of road. I started feeling much better—more relaxed and in control—and started enjoying the atmosphere and the scenery. I thought the whole band element was kind of fun, and even though I was kind of missing my music, it was nice to hear all the various sounds of the race. I got more than one “Go Ducks!” which I realized was due to the Eugene pride I was sporting 🙂

The course veered left during these miles and took us along the water on Lake Washington—easily my favorite part of the run. Lots of people cheering, lots of enthusiasm, just generally a happy running ethos.

4-8

You can't really tell, but I'm happy here!

You can’t really tell, but I’m happy here!

Miles 9-11

I was definitely feeling the increasing temperatures, but it was encouraging to know that we’d shortly be headed back toward downtown. Not so encouraging, however, was knowing that all the hills on the course were still to come.

A STEEP ascent lead us up into the I-90 tunnel, which is never my favorite in Seattle races, but there was a band inside which made it a little more tolerable. We were nearing the 10 mile mark when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was a guy who goes to my lifting class who said he “recognized the back of my head.” Kind of fun.

He passed me pretty quick, and it gave me a bit of a jolt to keep treking toward the finish. I loved exiting the tunnel and eventually flying down the I-90 ramp back toward downtown. I recognized the same place I picked up Nicole last year when she was running the full, and it felt really good to actually be running the race this year.

9-11

It was very noticeably still getting hotter, and running on the highway gave no relief from the sun. Still, I tried to start some mental math and garner some energy for a solid kick at the end.

Capture4

Miles 12-13

Alas, no kick was had. Not sure if it was the heat, the hills (of which the end had way too many), or the fact that I was running on very un-tapered legs, but I was toasted. However, I was still excited for the finish line and did what I could to get there with a smile. The crowds at this point had also thickened and provided a lot of encouragement.

12-13

The finish line chute was definitely exciting, and despite feeling hot and tired, I was really happy crossing at the end. Two weekends in a row of finish lines, I feel lucky.

As for time, my Garmin showed a 1:43 and change for 13.2 miles. I’m not sure if the tunnel threw off my distance calculation or if the course was long, but it doesn’t really matter.

I was a little sad I wasn’t closer to 1:40 for a bit, but then I knocked myself off my high horse and decided to be satisfied with the run. A 7:50 average on tired legs and a dehydrated/not carb-loaded stomach isn’t anything to complain about for an impromptu race.

Ultimately, I had a great time at Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was a beautiful day with a ton of fun people and a fat ole medal to boot.

I feel really grateful for both the opportunity to have run this race (for free!) and also for the physical ability to do a half on a whim. It’s definitely not lost on me that I was injured a year ago and could only run about 3 miles at a time. A lot can change, and I only hope the healthy legs will continue!

image

What’s Next

I had a very similar thought after I finished both the Seattle half-marathon and the Yukon Do It half. Sure, there was the usual relief to be done and satisfaction in a fun, hard race…but the most prominent thing in my mind was this:

What will this do for my marathon time?

Don’t get me wrong. I was really proud of my times for both races, and I developed a new fondness for the 13.1 distance. But deep down, I was looking further out. I hadn’t realized it before…but while increasing speed across as distances and enjoying races in all forms is important to me, there’s one distance that beckons louder for me than all others.

26.2

So although I do love running no matter the conditions—hot, cold, short, long, fast, slow, I’m realizing the my competitive focus has narrowed on the marathon.

In some ways I wish this weren’t true, given the nature of the beast. The training, the miles, the race itself…it’s all rather torturous, really. I’m pretty sure I’m not into masochism (although some would argue all runners are to a certain degree), but there’s just something about the distance that calls to me. It’s the difficulty, it’s the magnitude, it’s the glory—all in one. No matter how many times I get beat down by the brutality of it all—and there have been many—I just keep crawling back into the lion cage, begging for more.

Which leads me to the point of this post:

Spring Marathon Training. It’s here…well, almost.

Over the past few months, since recovering from Chicago, I’ve tried to centralize my running focus on two things: speed and recovery. Speed, in the sense of building up my lactate threshold in shorter distances in hopes of lowering my marathon goal pace. And recovery in the sense of establishing a ying and yang between hard workouts and rest. I’ve sucked at resting before, and it’s lead to one-too-many overuse injuries. I’ve begun to make rest a habit, and it’s working.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Along with these two focuses, I’ve tried to establish a solid running “base.” I’ve logged approximately 40 mile weeks for the past two months of so, including over 200 miles over the month of December (Thanks Nicole for enabling us to keep track of that!).

All these things for the sake of being in top notch condition for a very focused, very disciplined Spring Marathon plan. A plan that is all geared toward a very specific goal time:

3:34:xx.

BQ, baby. It is on.

I’ve had this goal before, but I never really admitted it, and I never really internalized it for myself. It always seemed a step away from me and only possible if a miracle happened. For the first time though, not only am I announcing it publicly— but I truly believe it’s possible.

There are many specifics as to the plan I’ll be following—which I’ll include in another post—but the primary change is that for the first time, I’m not making up my own schedule. 12 weeks, prescribed workouts, all hitting specific targets.

And I’m psyched. Actual training will begin Monday, February 4th, ending on Sunday April 28.

The goal marathon, you ask?

screen-shot-2012-10-13-at-8-51-21-pm

Some of you may remember that I was registered for Eugene last year. I was all set to run, but due to some knee bursitis and schedule rearranging, I switched my plan and ran the Tacoma Marathon instead. I still believe it was the best decision at the time…but consequentially I believe there’s some unfinished business to be done in Track Town.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go until then, but I really cannot wait to get started. Something feels right about this go-around…my brain, my legs, and my enthusiasm all feel very in sync, and I’m excited to see how this kind of exposed-goal, regimented training session goes.

Until then, I’m running when I want to, sleeping in when I want to, and mentally preparing for what feels like the biggest 26.2 undertaking yet.

And since I know for certain I’m not the only blogger/runner making the April trip down south…tell me, are you in for Huge Eug??

Purposeful Running

Hey-o.

Remember me? The Robyn formally known as a blogger?

Yea…this week’s been one of those, and that’s an understatement. It’s safe to say that yesterday was in the top 5 of most stressful of my professional career. It’s not a bad thing, in fact I prefer it, it just amounts to a lot of need for sleep and tv, and not a lot of time for blogging.

Also, truth be told, I don’t have much of interest to report. Do I ever? Don’t answer that.

But frankly, I’m a little boring and I’m a big believer in writing about the things I want to write about as opposed to just filling the internet with purposeless jargon.

Which is, ironically, a nice little segway into something that’s been on my mind a lot recently in regards to running. Now that I’m anecdote-d the crap out of this post, let’s get to some real deal things…sound good? Great.

Purpose. A word that reminds me of childhood tattle-tale (“You totally did that on purpose!”) and yet it’s been finding itself in my present life somewhat frequently. I love the idea of doing things with purpose, with intention. It makes for so much more productivity and satisfaction in our actions—and it leaves out all the useless things that tend to fill up our time. Of course, the useless things can be so much easier and that’s why we need them to help unwind (Hello, OnDemand tv shows). But for the most part, I prefer to live my day to day life with some semblance of purpose.

This has also been my new approach in running. I’ve decided that while I’m in the “off-season” yet working harder on getting faster and stronger, I want all of my workouts to have a particular purpose. It’s a quality over quantity approach of sorts, and it’s been working wonderfully.

Translation: no junk miles, no running just to feel like I worked out, and added rest, strength, and stretching.

When I head out on a run nowadays, I’m trying to make sure that I’m getting something productive out of it, besides simply a good sweat. For instance, my typical “10-mile Tuesday,” which is normally done on a flat, out-and-back route, has now turned into a 7-8 mile hill-climbing Tuesday. Doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?

But the point is that instead of heading out on a normal, easy run where I can zone out until it’s over, I’m trying to put some purpose in the miles. Hills have historically been a weaker point for me, and I’m really intent on getting over my fear of them. Also, in my quest for speed, hills are the best kind of speedwork in disguise, so while the grunt work might be tough—I know that integrating hills is doing a double-whammy of benefits for my running.

Another thing I’ve been focused on is getting to the pain point, and embracing it. I’ve come to a place where I can handle a good amount of distance at a comfortable pace, and the challenge has gone away a bit. I’m certainly happy about this and I think it’s a good place to be in, but for me…I want more. There isn’t much room for growth inside of our comfort zones, which is why another purposeful action I’ve been taking it getting outside of it, and welcoming the pain.

So I’d say that there are three core workouts that have been defining my running lately: speed work (mostly on a treadmill…baby steps), hills, and a long run. Any other running is done super slow and super short, and I’m kind of digging this method for now. It’s been interesting trying to balance getting some good rest in between marathons with also trying to get faster, but I think that the approach of making each run count toward something has been helpful.

And perhaps one of the biggest things: when I don’t want to run, I don’t run. I don’t feel guilty about it, and I don’t dwell on it all day. And low and behold…by the next morning, I can’t wait to get out again.

So simple, so logical, yet it’s taken so long to get there.

Initially, I was worried that if I took the winter to focus on speed, I’d surely burn out before it was time for the Big Goal for a spring 2012 marathon. But I feel the opposite. I feel a fire building, and I can feel motivation slowly garnering itself. By the time early February comes around, I’m hoping that fire has reached max-capacity and will be ready to hit a very regimented and goal-oriented training schedule hard.

I credit this building enthusiasm to both purposeful running and purposeful rest. Essentially, all the activity—or lack of activity—that I have been doing, I try to do with mindfulness and care. It takes a little more planning ahead of time and a little less auto-pilot mode, but for right now…it works for me.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to carry on some of this purposeful training into my real training next Spring, and in the meantime…it’s all about balancing the pain points and the rest days. They compliment each other quite well, turns out.

 

Happy Friday! Have a nice weekend!

 

Taper Fail

Greetings!

A quick pop-in before tomorrow’s half marathon, namely since I’ve been blog-MIA since Monday.

I just arrived back from my Thanksgiving mini-vacation in sunny Southern California, and it was splendid. So much sun, so much food, and so much quality family time. And, unexpectedly, so much running.

Which leads me to the primary reason for this post: to admit how I’ve done nothing with any semblance to “tapering.”

I ran a shade under 11 miles on Thursday and 8.5 yesterday… meaning that I’m not exactly “rested.” I’ve also been choosing adult beverages over water and Nuun, and I’m convinced I’m still full from our Thanksgiving feast.

In that regard, I’ve done very little to prepare for this race at all.

Admittedly, the Seattle half-marathon was never really a goal race. In fact, I still don’t really know how I’m planning on executing this race. While it might not be a goal race, it’s also not a race that I’m going to do just for fun. I think my effort will be somewhere in the middle of relaxed and puke-inducing. We’ll see…I’d like to go for sub 1:45, but if it’s not my day, that’s fine too.

Other than that loose plan, I don’t really know what I’m going to wear, if my iPod/Garmin are charged, or what time we’re supposed to be at the start.

Super responsible.

But I’m kind of liking this more relaxed approach. If anything, I’m excited to run hard tomorrow around my city with running friends.

So here goes nothing. Good luck to everyone running tomorrow!

 

Central Governor Theory

I’ve officially indoctrinated myself into the ranks of serious runnerd.

I bought a running textbook. Not a novel, not a book of motivational quotes, not “Runner’s World.”

A mother effing textbook. The Lore of Running, to be specific. And the worst part? I’m stupid excited about it. I’ve already planned early bedtimes of sitting with a highlighter and going through each chapter like I’m studying for a test.

Who am I?! Either this is a sign that I might need to go back to school sooner than I thought, or I’ve really got it bad for running. And because I’m really digging the whole not-ever-having-homework-or-taking-tests lifestyle right now, I’m gonna go with the latter.

It all started with another running book, Eat and Runthe one we’ve already talked about. Scott Jurek was merrily telling me all about his adventures in 100 mile races and whatnot, when he said something that hit me straight between the eyes. Or, more so, it hit me straight in the part of my brain that is haunted by the Tacoma Marathon.

{Yes, still talking about that one—sorry. I thought I was done, but this discovery was just too enlightening to ignore. I promise I’ll stop talking about that race someday}

Truth be told, in many ways I have left that race behind me as I’ve moved onto other endeavors. I certainly learned a lot from it, but it was a fairly traumatic event and I don’t want the bad parts of it to overwhelm my ambitions and love for this sport.

However, to this day I haven’t been able to answer exactly why what happened, well, happened. I was completely depleted and fatigued, and I’d reached my own physical threshold. However, I still hadn’t been able to come up with why, after 26 miles of running, my body decided to quit when the finish line was in view.

Enter, Scott Jurek. He was telling a story about the Western States 100—a notable race in California that courses up and down mountains for a hundred miles. Scott was pacing a friend, who was about to win the race, and right when they got to the local high school track (the location of the race’s finish line) and the finish came into view, his friend collapsed—unable to move.

The circumstances sounded very similar to mine—and as Scott continued to tell the story, my interest heightened and it all started to sound frighteningly parallel. Scott stated that in his opinion, when his friend’s brain processed the finish line in sight, it told his body, “Hey dude, you’re done. You can quit now.” Subsequently, his body gave out, just stopped, because his mind had resolved that it could stop working so hard.

It’s all very hippy dippy stuff, but hear me out. This guy was able to run, up and down mountains no less, for ONE HUNDRED MILES without faltering. Of course he was tired, battling, and exhausted, but there was something that was able to keep him going. But then, right as the finish line comes into view, that same body that’d been working toward this finale just decided to stop? The timing seems all too peculiar, just as my own seemed in the Tacoma Marathon.

Scott goes onto describe some actual scientific rationale behind this occurrence—termed the Central Governor Theory by  Dr. Timothy Noakes. In essence, the theory advocates for the power of the mind over the body in endurance sports.

“The central governor is a proposed process in the brain that regulates exercise in regard to a neurally calculated safe exertion by the body. In particular, physical activity is controlled so that its intensity cannot threaten the body’s homeostasis by causing anoxia damage to the heart.”

In lamens terms, our endurance is not only an effect of our training or our VO2 max, but of a part of our brain that strategically plans out our exertion levels based on the required mileage, time frame, etc. It’s essentially a case for mind over matter, and it advocates that our Central Governor has means of protecting us from overexertion.

It’s a debatable idea, have no doubt. But, it is one that has been cited and used in many sports studies and theories for years.

The thing that struck me about it is that it spoke so closely to the feelings I experienced during the Tacoma Marathon. I had passed my own limits for a good deal of that race: I was hurting, I was done, but for some reason I was able to keep going. And it wasn’t pride at that point—because no matter how much I wanted that BQ and I wanted to keep going, my fatigue had overtaken my pride.

But I was able to keep going, and my legs seemingly had a life of their own. Until, that is, I saw the finish line. I was grateful to see it, have no doubt, but it felt like my desire to be done had overtaken the strength that had kept me going. When I fell, it was because my body had given up, and although I had been able to continue to push it along for all those miles of pain, for some reason—so close to the end, they’d won the battle.

If you attribute the Central Governor Theory to my experience in that race, it makes a whole lot of sense—particularly the part where I fell right before the finish line. In a direct comparison to Scott’s story about his Western States 100 friend, my brain resolved that it could be done upon seeing the end, and my body responded with absolute abdication.

Now, I fully realize that there are a number of factors that could have come into play in the end of that race. I was entirely depleted, have no doubt; a 105 degree fever, cramping legs, and complete fatigue undoubtedly contributed to the time I spent in the medical tent afterward.

However, those factors would have existed whether or not I collapsed so close to the end. I’ve thought all along that it was my mind more than anything else that was the ultimate reason for the disconnect that occurred at mile 26. It felt like a cord between my body and my mind was snapped, and I couldn’t get the two to work in sync any longer.

So yes, my physical exertion was beyond a manageable level. But there was something more that occurred on that day—and the Central Governor Theory, at least to me, explains better than anything else the final factor that came into play.

Again, I promise that I have and will stop analyzing that race. I have gotten over it, and I know one day it’s going to be an ancient memory. But once this idea of the power of the mind was presented to me, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to that day. Because that day was the first time, and perhaps the only time, where I can say that I relied solely on my mind to carry on when my body was done. My mind was the only thing I had left for a long time in that race—and this theory presented an explanation for just how that dependence actually worked.

I think what I love so much about the Central Governor Theory is the theme that running is so much more than just our physical abilities. We hear time and time again that “Running is a mental sport,” and yet it’s so much easier to measure the physical side of it. We concentrate on times, VO2 max, lactate threshold, maximum heart rate, and mileage so often as the means in which we measure our physical abilities.These things have a lot of merit, of course, but there is something more to running than just the physiology. It’s the reason we can get out of bed in the morning when our bodies are so much happier staying under the covers. It’s the reason why we can sprint to a finish line even though we’ve been dead for miles. Our brains have a lot more power over our abilities that we even realize—and while that’s not to say that we shouldn’t concentrate on the tangible numbers, I truly believe that to be a good runner, we must remember that one of the most valuable tools we have is the one inside our head.

So, in going back to the textbook—The Lore of Running was written by the Central Governor Theorist himself, Timothy Noakes. The book discusses his theory, but also any and all things related to running. It’s definitely somewhat biased and opinion based, as essentially all running books are, however I’m excited to read what more this South African bloke has to say in favor of the power of our minds in relation to the power of our running.

The only problem? Everything is in kilometers, meaning he’s forcing me to exercise my brain while siphoning through chapters. Tricky man that Noakes.

Happy Friday! Happy running 🙂