As I run, thousands of thoughts fly through my mind. Some of them center around what plays on my iPhone (coincidentally, today it was the audiobook Rapt which addresses the importance of focusing on the most important things to realize success). Some thoughts are on family-related things. Often, thoughts are about work. Most frequently, they're focused on the run.
So what about it? Where do those thoughts about the run take me?
Marathon coaches everywhere say to ignore the clock during your first marathon. Just focus on putting in the miles. Finshing is more important than beating a time. Being a competitor, that doesn't work. Having failed at four previous attempts to train for a marathon, I undestand the risks. Push too hard, and your body screams louder than the voice in your head telling you to "suck it up".
This time during training, there are three areas of focus. First, and most importantly, is distance. You have to log the miles. Don't log the miles, and you won't finish the training, and you won't run a marathon. It's that easy. Second, I'm watching my heart rate. The owner of a local running store suggested something he read; keep your heart rate at the same pace - 180 less your age. That puts me at 135 bpm. That doesn't work real well either as I'm used to pushing it to 175 bpm, but it's a good barometer as I see when I'm pushing myself harder than usual. Third, I can't help but watch the time. The initial part of the run, the focus is on whether the run will be too long and interfere with work. That theme is "worry," and that's not good. The last part of the run, the focus is on time, heart rate, and maintaining pace to keep minutes per mile down.
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With every run, I find areas of improvement. That, and making sure I keep loose throughout the day. Brett Klika (Google him - he's a great guy) introduced me to the magic of trigger point massage with a tennis ball. I've replaced the tennis ball with the lacrosse ball, and it's helped keep my plantar fascia loose, my calf loose, and my lower back / hips loose. For whatever reason, those areas are incredibly tight. Running with those muscles that tight can only lead to disaster, and the lacrosse ball has been a savior. Just find the tight spot and focus on it until it loosens. Not fun, but effective.
In fact, not much about running is fun right now. Pain, soreness, tightness, all that. But getting the body in shape is better than the alternative. The video to the left sums up how I feel about this whole experience at this point.