Thursday, September 1, 2011

Top 3 ways to mentally prepare for a race you know you won't PR

Training? Training? We talkin' bout training? C'mon man...
This summer has been a tough time to train. The heat, the thunderstorms, the aches and pains, and yet somehow the running continues. With sore legs and mental exhaustion, looking ahead to the Quebec City Half Marathon had been daunting to say the least.

I've been lucky enough to have PR'd - attained Personal Records - in a bunch of races this year already. I have a feeling that I won't be doing to much more of that since as we runners plateau, we reach the peak of our abilities and then begin to decline - or chase the dragon (don't do drugs kids.) So I got to thinking, as the Quebec City Half marathon approached, that I probably won't PR the race; which led to instant depression and sapped all motivation I may have had. I'm not a terribly competitive runner, but like most, staying motivated to compete can be difficult. Here, I've devised my top 3 ways to mentally prepare for a race that I knew I wouldn't PR:

Background: Hotel Frontenac
  1. Suck it up and remember where you came from. So what! I started running for fun years ago, but not until recently, when I started breaking my own records did I start getting competitive with myself. Thinking about past running struggles has helped to some degree. I remember as a young tween, being able to pull off two miles before collapsing in my driveway on Long Island. Or the bursting pride I felt when I finished my first 5 mile run without stopping. Running at it's core is plain old fun so don't you forget it!
  2. Stay the course. Sometimes running day in and day out, whether training for a race or not, can be monotonous. Us runners can become fixated on a number, a time, a distance, and get deflated if a training run doesn't go so well or the past few races didn't yield positive results. It's important to remember that you've already been running and your training won't completely abandon you. Get up in the morning, look those sneakers in the face, and take um out for a good old pavement beating just to spite them. 
  3. Run with friends. It's more fun. Remember before when I said running should be fun? I wasn't kidding. Running is inherently and individual sport. When you've had enough of yourself, take it out on someone else - so to speak. Running with your friends or groups of people can be motivating and help you get through the tough times. Someone's probably going through what you feel right now so talk about it while they try to keep up with you - after all, you've been training all summer! 
Come race day, you might be surprised. For the last 6-8 months you trained, beat your body, experienced the elements when no one else dare go outside. I didn't PR last week in Quebec City, but at mile 4 I felt great and found my rythem. I finished just one minute slower then my goal and feel pretty proud of that, as crossing the finish line I remembered the dog days of summer (heat index was 108F). I guess that's why they call it training. Who might even get a sweet picture in the end.


  1. Great article, Andy, and cool photo from Quebec... did you buy this one?

  2. Thanks Martin. They twisted my arm, it hurt, so I paid. How could I say no?

  3. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Andy. I've been down on myself for my last few failed half marathon trainings, but I need to get up and look my sneakers in the face. I think. Or something like that.

  4. It sure has been a tough summer. Perhaps all that snow running finally caught up to me.

  5. Thanks, perfect timing, needed that to help get re-motivated for a half coming up.

  6. Well done Kristy. You're gonna rock the half!

  7. You're welcome Anonymous @4:55am What half are you planning on doing?


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