Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Unsolicited Advice for the First Time Marathoner (3)

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude" ~ Thomas Jefferson.
Seems to me like if he were alive today, he'd be one GBA marathoner...

We'll call todays post:

Mental Stamina and How it Relates to Fashion.

What ~ WHAT?

...I know what you're all thinking, how does fashion relate to mental stamina, and where does Thomas J come into the equation?  Seriously, did you see Jefferson's socks?  He's a man after my own heart.

Aside from picking your race and coach/training plan and, if applicable, your SportsBackers MTT color, is there anything more important than choosing your outfit?

 Well,  no.  Not really.

Because you need an outfit that doesn't chafe, or tire you, and it helps if it's one that encourages you, or inspires others to encourage you, and finally, one that makes you feel good on the course.

And one that doesn't chafe,  yea, I said it twice because it's that important.

I like to know these things way out.  Partly so I can test for chafing in all weather conditions.

And more importantly because I like to use a lot of visualization when I'm preparing for a marathon, it works for me to know what I'm going to be wearing well in advance.

In my case, my typical running garb includes outfits like this...
(T & Me)

and this...

(Kc & me)
and this...

(T & Me)

notice anything?  (other than my need for volume and that I apparently always stand on the Left) Yea, I like to run in a skirt.

There are a lot of reasons.  One is that I feel feminine and sexy in a skirt.  And powerful, because, let's just face it, my quads are, ah, muscular... yea, we'll go with that.  

These are all tools in my toolbox of mental strength.

I also like tall socks.  They don't really do anything except help me start conversations.  Also a tool in my box.

If you're building a house, you don't try to do it without the proper tools, right?  In fact, you wouldn't start any big project without the tools you need.  You would go get them before you started, and make sure you had enough supplies to get through the project.

So, along that line of thought - Marathons are long.

That's so dumb right?  Of course we know they're long.  But that longness doesn't just translate into physical tiredness.  It also goes with mental exhaustion.  My first marathon I had NO IDEA that the mental exhaustion would be such a big deal.  I went in mentally undertrained. er, mentally untrained.

Prepare your head the way you prepare your body, train it, and as a result, be strong on the course.  The methods of mental training are probably as varied as marathon training strategies.  Giving credit where credit is due, I adapted my mental prep strategy based on exchanges with a few marathoners I know - Mel's strategy was my foundation, with elements from Q and T added in for good measure.  Oh yea, and all these people are running COACHES.  Just saying.

My method, the one that works for me, is as follows.  As I get about 6 to 8 weeks out from a marathon (or half), I like to picture myself on the course.  I like to envision the road melting under my light swift feet, I like to imagine my strong legs pulling me along, and in my imaginings I'm always feeling good running with good form, no matter where I am on the route.  The closer I get to the race, the more concrete these images become.  What does all that do for me?
You know, sometimes I'm not sure it does anything except take up some of my spare time during the taper...  

I'm pretty sure that the positive visualization helps me capture the moment when I am on the course.  At Richmond '10 I was "galactically bada**"... it's just a fact, right?  One of the reasons I was galactically bada** is because I embraced the idea that I would be, days out from the actual race.  I saw it clearly in my mind, and when I felt a trickle of self doubt on race day, I banished it with GBA** thoughts like, "why are you doubting yourself?  You're totally going to be a galactic bada** at mile 22... mile 23... mile 25".  And I was because I believed.

In my case, part of my mental training strategy was because I knew I wanted to be strong when I got to T, and darn it, that's what I was... right up until I started dry heaving, but I suppose that's an unsolicited advice topic for another day.


Jen said...

Love it.... wish I was running the marathon instead of the half now.

Anne said...

I'm really enjoying these tips...thanks! And you definitely look fantastic when you're racing :)

Wifey said...

Loving your advice series - and your fashion sense.

Great tips. My mind definitely got me through my first marathon; and it looks like its getting me into #2.

Winks & Smiles,

Rene' said...

The outfit plays a huge part, in fact someone remembered my skirt from the Manchester Marathon in my race this weekend. (she commented on my new skirt this weekend) I am definitely from the school if you look good you feel good. Love the part about mental preparation. I think that I definitely psyched myself out for my first marathon. will do things differently next time.

Run with Jess said...

Love the advice! Mental stuff is so important... I find myself visualizing alot too.

Your outfits are super cute! Agreed... Outfit is Very Important! LOL - already testing mine out for my Half in April - and sewing a new Irish skirt for one next month! I'm a sock rookie though - gonna have to try that out I think!

Katie said...

Thanks again for a great post! I cannot run without a running skirt . . they are the best! I have been reading all about mental toughness in J. Galloway's marathon book. Some of his mantras are silly, but I can see why it is so important to be mentally ready.

April said...

If I look good(or think I look good)during a race...I feel good.
Fantastic advice on mental preparedness!

Liz said...

Thanks for the great advice. And I'm a running skirt convert, too. I love them!

Kristen said...

I just got my very first skirt (for my birthday), and a super excited to wear it, though I am less than confident about my legs. Heck, I'll give it a try though!

Morgan said...

I've long believed a positive mental attitude can make the difference between a good and bad race/run. Love this post!!!

Oh and you guessed right, Spike's new obsession is Cheezits & Chocolate Frosting. YUCK!!!!