Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mental tricks!!!

I really need to learn some mental tricks to keep me running when the going gets tough. Saturday morning's 8 miler really kicked my pa-too-ty as I ended up walking a lot more than I wanted to. Still, I want to learn from the experience and not get down about one, single workout.

Since my new running buddy, Jo, wasn't available due to illness, I was going to try to run with the 5/1 group. But after a little less than a half a mile, they were out of sight. The 5/1 group must be averaging 12 - 13 minute miles or better. Again, there really isn't a group that I fit into. Am I complaining? No, not really. I'm going to stick with this no matter what. Oh, did I mention that 10 weeks into the program, the head coach has quit (well, she really wasn't there to begin with) because it was interfering with her own marathon training and over half the Red group has pretty much dropped out. I ran by 2 coaches on their return trip yesterday morning, running by themselves at "their own" pace. I don't think I have to complain and speak too badly about the program. These few facts speak volumes. Like Jo said, we were so spoiled by PIM (back in the day). Still, there is some energy left and they may be able to salvage the program for those that remain. The new Red team head coach has a lot of excitement and really seems to care about the new runners and seeing the program head in a better direction. It just hurts me so bad to lose potential entrants to the sport of running. I mean really hurts.

Ok, back to the run. I think in a way, I was still recovering from the SMARTie Hop workout on Thursday. The workout introduced some new stresses to my ankles and lower legs. Good stresses, mind you. But you know how it is the first time you really do a new exercise. It sort of "shocks" your system. Well, I think my ankles and lower legs were kind of shocked from Thursdays workout. Now, I just need to continue those kinds of exercises and continue to improve my coordination and strength in my ankles. Even though I was still recovering, I felt stronger and more stable on my feet and didn't experience the discomfort and imbalance that normally plagues me going up and down hills and slightly graded or beveled surfaces.

Again, I think the trouble I experienced on this run was mental. I never cramped up or felt out of breath. I just got tired. I know the humidity was very high and it felt like a big thumb pressing down on me. At the time I don't think I realized this but looking back and remembering the run, I know my body could have performed better but my mind slowed me down to a crawl. I ended up walking quite a bit, maybe a half a mile or a little more in total.

Still, the one thought process that works well for me is the one where I know exactly how much further I have to go and it's not too far (maybe a mile or a little more) and I say to myself, ok, Vic, you want to finish strong. Now run the rest of the way in and finish strong. That works!! It's just the middle of the run, the tough miles, that give me fits. Interestingly, I think it has something to do with not knowing where I am on the course. Not knowing my pace, not knowing how far I've gone, not knowing how far I have left. That really does something to my mind. I'm still not familiar with TH Park. That stretch between Dairy Ashford and Eldridge is a lot longer than the Kirkwood/Dairy Ashford leg. Well, I just went and looked it up. Eldridge to Dairy Ashford it 1.10 miles. Dairy Ashford to Kirkwood is 1.5 miles. Maybe knowing that will help. But the Dairy Ashford/Kirdwood has some mean hills, too. I can see just from this post that the thinks I am thinking about are not the things I should be thinking about on a run. I need some more mental tricks to practice and try to find some that work for me.

No stats really to report. I didn't even bring my watch at all so I don't even know my total time. I did make it back in time for most of the seminar and in plenty time to make an announcement and collect registrations for the Koala/Luke's Locker Half marathon. Lot's of questions and excitement about the race. Some of the questions I didn't have an answer but I committed to find out and report back next week.

God bless!!!


Anonymous said...


Great report! Don't give yesterday a second thought; summer made a temporary return and threw us all for a loop.

Back in the day, as you so aptly put it, we hand-picked 1-2% of the PIM participants to test their interest and availability as coaches. You and Jo know the results, and now you're experiencing how other program perform when they recruit and select their coaches in other ways. I will also note you can get terrific workouts coaching below your own capabilities. On a long run you can run continuously from the front of the pack to the back of the pack to the front, etc., both really enhancing the training experience for the participants while hammering yourself into the ground at the same time.

It's interesting to consider that you worked out with a bunch of 3 hour marathoners on Thursday and had no problem fitting right in, then 36 hours later had your Red Group experience. It just doesn't need to be like that.

Agree that the SMART workout on Thursday probably touched areas you hadn't exercised in a while. We have two SMARTie Hops scheduled in October, and can customize pretty much any workout we do to accommodate your needs, so come on out whenever your schedule permits.


Anonymous said...

Running, like picking the next winning stock, just doesn't perform the same way every time.

Some days you've got it and some days you don't. You've just got to go through your routine that's worked in the past and hope you're body is going to respond in a favorable manner. If you start to falter more frequently, I would recommend re-evaluating your routine.

I will tell you that it's easier for me to get up for and execute longer runs than shorter runs. Probably because I prepare for a longer run over a couple of days, rather than that day. Mondays after a long run are the toughest for me to run 3 miles. Sometimes I can just go a half mile, then quit. Looking for the answer on that one.

Keep thinking & don't do stuff that might hurt you.


Steve Bezner said...

Great effort Vic!

Dittos on the last two comments.

Coach Steve should write a book as he has a vast knowledge of this sport from a lot of different viewpoints. I always enjoy reading his advice. Maybe when he "retires" he'll write a book!

Humble Runner said...

Vic, you’re NOT alone. Looking over my last workout, I walked and took some extended water breaks due to the mental obstacles associated with the heat. When I finished, I wasn't as tired as I had suspected. Leads me to believe I had more in me. Am I disappointed? Yes. Will I give up over two lousy miles? NEVER. We are better than this Texas heat. Our day to shine is quickly approaching.

Sorry to hear about the Houston FIT issues. Indeed it is unfortunate for everyone. Look for clubs, programs, and runners that have a consistent track record. No pun intended. Many, many people have great success stories with the USA Fit program, while others don't. The same could be said about any program. Maybe you would be better suited with a program that is more accommodating and able to customize workouts for VIC K. … not a program that has generic schedules for the "red group". The shotgun-effect works well most of the time, but they don’t specialize in beginning Clydesdale runners who are post ankle surgery. Know what I mean? Just food for thought.

Maybe your “other” group doesn’t say it, so I’ll act as PIO for the Houston Striders; “Vic, we are very proud of you!”


JustJunebug said...

well i dont know how high the humidity was yesterday but it was BAD today...and it affected me as well. the last 2 weeks of long runs i had been blessed with lower...

however, if the weatherman is correct, then next weekend shall be FABULOUS!

I thought of you this morning as i entered the park on my way back...i was hoping to see your smiling face!!

JustJunebug said...

oh and you SHOULD run next Sunday!! even if we cant stay side by side, we could at least be in the vicinity together! i hear a cool front is coming through on saturday sometime...

elf said...

I'm going to have to stick up for PIM here. It is still a great program. The new head coach, Jack McClintic from Katy Fit, put together a great program and assembled a team of dedicated coaches in less than three weeks last spring, and we had a very successful program (I was a Hydrations coach). If anyone had a negative comment about it, it would be the first one that I heard--all of the runners I spoke with in every group had nothing but good things to say about it.

I don't know what's going on at Champions Fit, so I can't speak to that. But there are dozens of training groups in Houston, and fortunately, there are thousands of runners to coach. If this one doesn't work out, there are plenty of others to choose from.

Hope your training continues to go well--it sounds like you're doing great!


Vic said...

Erin, when I said "back in the day", I was talking about the "day" when I did the PIM program. I wasn't alluding to the post-whatever-happened-to-PIM-time. So, no need to defend PIM here. PIM is where I started and I'll bet it's still a great program.

I really didn't want to criticize the program at Katy Fit. I drew no conclusions in my post. The facts speak for themselves. 1)The head coach of the Red group quits after 8 weeks. Why? Because her coaching was getting in the way of her own training. 2)A huge percentage of Red group are gone, not lost to injury, just dropped out. 3)Several of the Red coaches ar running by themselves on Saturday group runs. Yes, in a USAFIT program, there are coaches running by themselves.

I think these facts speak for themselves. No offense to the head coach. No offense to anyone. I know there are some great folks out there and some coaches that really care. But I'm the consumer. I paid my $100 or however much it was. And I'm entitled to BE TRAINED!!!

I'm one of the lucky ones. I have the Striders, and Steve, and Bill, Steve B. Coach Dwyer, Sam, Jill, and others to make up a huge support and knowledge base as I train for the full. Others aren't so lucky. And when I think about all those first timers who had a chance to enjoy a sport that can be life changing, to chage their lifestyle and live better and longer, but because the ones who say, "I'll get you there!" are just looking out for themselves, it makes me angry. It also drives me to be ever mindful that life is a blessing and if I have a chance to share some of that blessing with others by encouraging them or running with them or maybe even coaching them one day, I'm honored to do that.

Jill said...

I am sorry about the problems your FIT group is having. I have experienced the same thing with TNT. Sometimes you just get a bad lot and it is too bad.

Don't feel bad that you didn't have a great run on Saturday. Somedays you are on, others not so much. I am sure you will do fabulous your next 8 miler!!

elf said...

Whoops--I need to clarify my comment. For some reason I thought that you were in Champions Fit with Barbara, which is why I mentioned it. Jack came to PIM from Katy Fit, but I don't *think* he has been involved in KF this year. I was talking about his leadership of PIM, not KF.

I was speaking more to Steve's comment about selecting coaches. Jack and the HARRA folks did a good job last spring of finding coaches from all over the city on very short notice, and the program seemed to be very successful. I think any of us would take exception to his implication that we were somehow less dedicated to the program because we weren't hand selected from PIM alumni, and I think that those coaches last spring who were PIM alumni would agree.

Like I said, though, there are so many good programs out there--seems like we add several every season--and they fill up quickly with runners looking to be coached. It's a shame that you seem to be stuck in a *dud*. Have you sent any feedback to the USAFit organization? Perhaps there is something they can do...

In the meantime, though, keep up the good work!


Vic said...

Appreciate that Erin. You rock!!!

I don't want to put any words in Steve's mouth because he has enough in there and I'm sure he doesn't need my help. :) But my take on Steve's comment was that he was comparing the way PIM selected coaches back when I joined the program to the way Katy Fit recruits and other "sub-PIM" programs select their coaches. I think this comment was relevent as I was talking about the commitment of my coaches at Katy Fit. To be quite honest, it never even entered my mind that Steve was referring to or comparing PIM-before-whatever-happened to PIM-after-whatever-happened or besmirching the dedication of current PIM leadership or coaches.

I know hardly any of the details around the PIM shakeup and that's the way I like it. What little I do know came from the regular scuttlebutt around the water fountain or out runnning. I have never once heard Steve denegrate or elaborate on any of the events surroinding the PIM thing. Furthermore, I've never heard anyone tell me that "Steve said..." anything. I'm not saying that I think Steve has no opinion on the matter. In fact, I'm sure he does and I'm sure he would state his opinion if asked. I'm just saying that in the context of the above comment, I do not think that Steve was talking about the PIM situation which by the way is so far behind us now, right?

I hope you don't take offense to my comments. I just had to say those things. I love you. I love Steve. I love PIM. In a strange way, I love Katy Fit. There's so much potential there and a chance for coaches to impact the lives of so many. I love everybody, man!!! Later. Peace out!

ravenclawprefect said...

hey Vic, you forgot a group hug in the last post hee hee...wait, maybe it is not a guy thing.

I can imagine the frustration of trying to do training on your own. Luckily, as you said, you have a larger group you can draw support on.

We all have bad run days. The great thing about running is that you can just log it and start all over again the next run.

Keep up the fantastic work. You rock!


Anonymous said...

My goodness!

I spoke to PIM when Vic and I were involved ("back in the day") and Vic's observations on his current program. I spoke to nothing else.

Steve Shepard

Barbara said...

Hey Vic,
I know how you feel. It was hot and humid. You know, we have awesome coaches for our blue (half), green (very fast), yellow (fast), orange (5:1's) and purple (walkers). So really we only have one area where we're having just happens to be my group, and I just happen to have a blog which makes it more public.

Hopefully some of the kinks will get worked out for you pretty soon. One good thing for us doing out-and-backs is there are people all along the route to help cheer you on.

Pat Monahan said...

Hi Vic,

I read a lot of blogs from you Texans and you are all inspiring. I thought I learned this from one of you. When I do a 5/1 workout and i'm running on minutes 4 and 5 I keep telling myself that these are the minutes that make me a better runner.
One of my favorite blogs is yours because you are dedicated, sincere and truly an inspiration.

If you're ever running in Arizona, let me know 'cause I'd be honored to run with you.

gotta run, Pat
Meep Meep, formerly know as No Fries

Anonymous said...


Sounds like conditions were tough, but you did great!!!

As far as mental tricks go, I get myself through my longer runs by breaking each mile down (just 11 more minutes and then I will get to walk for a minute)....that really helped me on my long runs duing marathon training. :)