Training

WRS Nashville Half: Mental Training

After a hilly half, Caitlyn is focusing on recovery and her mental training.

caitlyn cowtown

By now, most of you have probably heard the news about the postponement of the Women’s Running Series until 2015. Let me be one of the first to say that any halt on racing plans is never easy, and like you, I was disappointed to hear the news. But I’m also still very excited to head to Nashville for the series’ event on Sept. 27. Having worked on the series, the magazine and participating in the events, I can say that it’s a great, intimate event for us ladies to lace up our shoes, tie our hair back and run a fun 13.1 miles (before consuming celebratory mimosas) with our closest running girlfriends. Plus, Nashville is a great city for some post-run music and Southern hospitality!

With that, I have been continuing my loose training for this event, with my long run over the weekend happening at a small half marathon in my hometown. Admittedly, I felt okay enough to go hard on the hilly course, so I’m definitely taking some days off this week to recover physically—and really mentally as well. The past month hasn’t been the easiest as it relates to my overall health. Running has been sparse, so to be able to finish my race on Sunday meant a lot mentally, but it also took a huge toll when I compare my fitness now versus two months ago.

The blessing in disguise, however, is my downtime and late alarm clocks have given me an opportunity to re-assess how I’m balancing fitness and my overall well-being. I’m a huge supporter of addressing the mental/emotional side of running just as much as the physical, and I know in the final weeks before a huge goal race, this can be especially important. Based solely on my own experience over the last 14 years of running competitively, here are some key things to consider when mentally preparing to taper and go hard on race day:

  1. It’s ok to be nervous, and for me, this is a huge one when you’ve been racing for a long time. No one—from elite down to beginner—is immune to nerves. It’s natural to be nervous. Just remember that you’ve done the training, and it’s your brain’s job to protect you by challenging your certainty to make sure you’re safe and prepared.
  2. It’s ok to have a bad day. No one likes bad days, where maybe you ran too hard or maybe you did too many miles—or perhaps you skipped altogether. That’s totally fine! I’ve skipped probably hundreds of training days due to ulcerative colitis complications. One day won’t set you back—just remember to cater the next few days to make up for that missed one. (And no, this does NOT mean piling on extra miles if you skipped a day.)
  3. It’s ok when life gets in the way. I speak for myself when I say I’m the queen of letting things pile up higher than I can climb. My triathlon coach taught me to tackle training—and races—in chunks. Instead of thinking about the millions of tasks that need to be done before you get a run in or leave for Nashville, take a breath, and do them one at a time. Often my brain creates a sense of urgency about something that isn’t urgent because it’s nervous about another event. If you break training and racing into manageable components, it makes the overall picture of making it to and through the race more fun and less intimidating!

Those are the main things I will focus on this week, with the idea of not letting my personal health issues deter me from what I know my body can handle and should handle on Sept. 27. You brain is a powerful vehicle—but you’re the one behind the steering wheel!

Follow along every Wednesday and Friday leading up to #WRSNashville to see what other mischief Caitlyn gets into during her runs—and don’t forget to follow @runwrs on Instagram and Twitter for race-day announcements!

Register for the 5K or half marathon at womensrunning.com/Nashville before the price increases on August 31. Save an extra $15* with online code RUNWITHCAIT. If you have training questions for your own half marathon, tweet @caitpilk!

*Code valid for half marathon only