• Scary Numbers & Self-Doubt

    July 31, 2011

    There’s something about running distances over 13 miles that bugs me out. I’ve completed a number of half marathons, so I’m totally confident with my ability to run that distance, but when it comes to anything longer, I start to question my running abilities. It happens every time.

    This lack of confidence plagued me throughout most of training for my first marathon. In fact, the night before each of my Saturday long runs, I doubted my running abilities so much I’d make myself sick with anxiety and even (unconsciously) sabotage my efforts.

    I still clearly remember the day that I ran 16 miles by myself  in the pouring rain. Instead of psyching myself up for the longest run of my life to date, I prepared for not being able to finish it. I broke the route into two 8-mile loops, so I had the option of stopping at home if I decided to quit. I already had it in my head that I would fail. Well, it turns out that I surprised myself that day and ran 16 miles without a single issue.

    Every long run after that seemed much more possible, but I still doubted myself at times. There’s just something about those big, scary numbers that mentally mess with me.

    For my second marathon, I’m really trying to keep those doubts and negative thinking out of my head. I know I am capable of running these “scary” distances, so I now I just need to go out and run them the best that I can. If you experienced runners have any advice for me, I’d love to hear it. I’m trying my hardest to keep up my confidence with those longer runs, but I need all of the help I can get!

    This morning, Mal had a softball game in Cambridge near Harvard Stadium, so I decided to join him for the ride and do my long run around the Charles River. There scenery is a lot nicer there than my neighborhood!

    Before I left the house, I ate my usual pre-run breakfast and then double-checked that I had all of my running gear: Spibelt, iPhone + headphones, GU Chomps and Gel, BIC Band, and Road ID.

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    Remember when I wrote about my new Road ID a couple of weeks ago? Well, I decided to buy a new one. I really liked the idea of wearing one on my long runs– I definitely felt safer with it—but I didn’t like the way that the silicone band bounced around on my wrist.

    When I ran with Theodora in NYC, I noticed that her Road ID had an adjustable Velcro strap, so I ended up getting the same one (Wrist ID Sport). I liked wearing this style Road ID a lot better than my old one. It didn’t bother me at all on my run today.

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    I started my 14-mile run on North Harvard Street and ran toward the Charles.

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    I stuck to the Storrow side of the river because it has a lot more water fountains, and I didn’t bring any water with me.

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    When I reached the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge near the Hatch Shell, I crossed over to Boston Common and ran around it twice before heading back to the Charles. It was a nice change of scenery and broke up the run for me a little bit.

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    Back on the Charles, I continued along the river until I reached the Museum of Science bridge. I crossed it and then ran back to the Storrow side, so I could take advantage of the water fountains. It was 85 degrees this morning– I needed water in a bad way!

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    I finished 14 miles in 2:05:25, which is whole four minutes (15 seconds faster per mile) than my last 14-miler! Whoop!!

    • Mile 1: 9:19
    • Mile 2: 9:12
    • Mile 3: 8:44
    • Mile 4: 8:35
    • Mile 5: 8:42
    • Mile 6: 8:52 <— Chomps
    • Mile 7: 8:25
    • Mile 8: 8:33
    • Mile 9: 8:59
    • Mile 10: 9:00 <— Gu
    • Mile 11: 8:41
    • Mile 12: 9:41 <— Dying
    • Mile 13: 9:31
    • Mile 14: 9:03

    Total: 2:05:25 (8:57 pace)

    At home, I stretched, iced, and refueled with a Marylou’s iced coffee (Will Run for Iced Coffee!) and a Dr. Praeger’s veggie burger + an egg white patty with barbeque sauce on a whole wheat Sandwich Thin. I also ate a couple of handfuls of pita chips.

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    I’m spending my Sunday catching up with work. Boo. Hopefully, your Sunday is a lot more exciting than mine!

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    { 91 comments… read them below or add one }

    Cait's Plate July 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Congrats on accomplishing the run!! That’s awesome :) I’m with you on certain mileage being scary. For me it’s anything above 10 miles usually. I’m so glad you rocked it and kicked the fear and self doubt in the behind ;)

    Reply

    Holly @ The Runny Egg July 31, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Great job on your run Tina — I share a lot of the emotions you describe here. Last year I would psych myself out (negatively!) before each long run and many times I’d end up quitting before my designated mileage amount — there is nothing wrong with that, except that I should have pushed myself. This year, I did push myself and even when I wanted to quit, I kept going. I cried during many of my training runs, but it was so worth it and I’m glad I put in that effort. It is amazing what we can do when we have the right attitude!

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    Sandy July 31, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I ran my first half in May of this year. I registered for my 2nd one which is in October and I’m going through the same type of mental sabotage. Right now I can’t see how I’ll be able to run that distance again (I took a forced break of probably 2 weeks total; but I think that did me in). I know I can…I’ve done it once…it’s just a matter of getting over the mental thing. I’m currently stuck at 6 miles & need to get past that SOON.
    I bought a Road ID in early June….LOVE it. I wear it on every run & bike ride. I have the velcro one & wondered how the silicone one was. Glad I made the right choice!

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    Corey @ Learning Patience July 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    congrats on the run tina! i think anyone who runs 13 miles is an all star…. i do agree when u hear the number it sounds so far – i used to think a 10k sounded crazy …… until i completed my 1st one last year! im on vacay with my un exercising family and im pretty proud of myself that i ran everyday..at least 3 miles with some circut training…xoxo

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    Jenn July 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I have yet to run anything longer than 8 but will start training for a half in september and then a full after and I know I’m going to get seriously psyched out for those long runs! Reading great blogs of fellow runners going through it and succeeding really helps though =) Congrats on a great run and I can only hope to keep up that pace for 14 miles someday!!
    ~Jenn

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    Adri July 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I am currently training to make it to the soccer team of my college. The first physical test is to run 2 miles in 16 minutes, since I am not a runner, this number scares me to death! every morning before I start running I am already sweating and nervious. I still have 3 weeks to train but I do not really know how to control it… HELP!

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    Kate July 31, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Congrats on the long run! I used to get a little freaked out about them too but now I actually dread speedwork more. I usually do my long runs a little bit slower than my normal runs, so I kind of look forward to it – “I have so much time to chill out! no need to check my watch all the time or worry about pace!” Sometimes it helps to think more about the pace you’re running- “easy” – than the number of miles :)

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    Ali @ Ali Runs July 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Woo hoo, congrats on the awesome run! The scenery there is beautiful. You rock! :)

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    Laura @ Cookies vs. Carrots July 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I am by no means an “expert runner”, but I think no matter what level you are at, running is at least 50% mental. If you set yourself up for failure, you are likely to fail. If you have a positive attitude and believe you can do it, you can! Whenever I want to quit, I tell myself “just one more minute” or “just to the next stop sign”. Those checkpoints come so quickly that once I’m done, I think to myself “I can do another minute”. Pretty soon my workout is done!

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    Joyce @ Jranola Joyce July 31, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    It must be so nice to run around different areas — changing scenery = less boring runs!
    ah, need to change my routes :)

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    Scott July 31, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Hi Tina! Nice job on the run today! After you run, you said you stretched, iced, and refueled. What exactly do you ice and for how long? I’m training for a half marathon and hope to run a full marathon next year. I’ve gotten in the habit of taking ice bathes after my long runs and am curious about your icing routine. Please enlighten me!

    Reply

    Tina August 1, 2011 at 5:56 am

    @Scott: My plan was to do an ice bath, but I couldn’t find the stopper for my tub, so I just iced my legs with ice packs. I guess it worked?!

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    Alaina July 31, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Great job on the run!!! I love running along the Charles. :-)

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    Robyn @ Blueberries and Oats July 31, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Congrats on the run! I completely agree with you on the scary numbers. =/ I pretty much have the mindset I’m not going to complete it either and then I surprise myself! Just goes to show you that you’re stronger than you think you are!

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    Melissa @ Journey to Marvelous August 1, 2011 at 12:09 am

    High mileage scares me too…good for you for getting out there and working through it! I’m glad you posted about the Road ID…I’ve been meaning to order one and now I know to get the velcro strap!

    Reply

    Jodie August 1, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I always like the look & sound of those GU Chomps, I looked up for a supplier in Australia and & I was shocked that these were AUD60.00/pack 16pcs! We are literally dollar for dollar at the moment, do you pay USD60/pack?

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    Kari @ bite-sized thoughts August 1, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Doubting my running ability is my biggest challenge, now that I’ve built up a running base. I’m yet to manage a half marathon though, never mind a marathon, so I think I need to follow your lead and continue to challenge myself despite the doubt!

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    Khushboo August 1, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Wow great job on your run, fantastic splits! I haven’t reached the point where I”m running massive distances but I definitely think breaking it down helps! For example i know 4 miles is child’s play in comparison to 14 but on days where even that seems too much, i give my option to walk for a few minutes after every mile. Even though I don’t, it kinda makes it less daunting!

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    Wifey August 1, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Sounds like a great run. Self-doubt SUCKS, right?! Smiles! I love your positive attitude and I’m sure you’ll conquer it before it sets in this time around.

    Thanks for sharing … it happens in some way to all of us!

    Winks & Smiles,
    Wifey

    Reply

    Amanda @ Tales of an Amateur Mommy August 1, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Wow, and i’m just scared of the 5 miler I’m supposed to run in 3 weeks! Your pic’s of your runs make me miss Boston… I’ve only been there once, but I LOVED it!!! Such a cool city.

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    molly August 1, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Hey Tina, I have a question for you given you seem to be training w/ some plan in mind through TFK…. I looked at Runner’s world smartcoach, and it has me running my long runs much slower than the actual race. I have no idea if this is normal or weird??? I’m somewhat nervous what is better b/c I don’t want to burn out, but that seems like it won’t get me ready for race day. Are you planning (hoping) to run about 8min/miles or are you training at the pace you hope to keep in the marathon? Sorry for all the questions!

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    Tina August 1, 2011 at 7:54 am

    @molly: I’m training at the pace I hope to run the marathon. My goal is 9-minute miles, which I think is pretty ambitious, but I’m sure gonna try to do it!

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    Jane @ Jane's Addictions August 1, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I hear ya! I have a 16-miler planned for next Sunday and I am already freaking out thinking I won’t be able to do it. I am training for my first marathon so it’s the first time I am hitting the high numbers. I am a bit anxious but at the same time it’s is exciting to discover what my body can do.

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    Angela @ The Chicken Scoop August 1, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I always get butterflies before a long run! Maybe its doubt, nervousness, whatever! It actually makes me a bit excited for the distance :)
    ~Ang

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    Bobbie August 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Great Job on the run. I am training for the philly marathon in November and I’m starting to get nervous about the longer runs. I get nervous with anything over 10. Plus, right now in Jersey we are battling the heat pretty badly so I’ve been having to get up at 5 for my runs and that is exhausting for me since I spend my days running around after my 3 little girls! I’m hoping once the heat moves out a little I will gain my confidence back. I am about to turn 40 and running a marathon by 40 has been a life long goal of mine. I look forward to reading your long run recaps as a source of inspiration for me throughout my training journey.

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    Meghan @ StruggleMuffins August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Ooo Dr. Praeger’s with an egg white – genius! I never eat those any more because there’s not enough protein to tide me over but they’re so goshdarn tasty – the egg white’s a great way to round out the meal. The scenic run sounds awesome – I love running around the Charles – never a shortage of stimulating things to look at!

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    Hilary August 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I wouldn’t consider myself an “experienced” runner, but one thing that has really help me on long runs is audio books! The time passes SO MUCH quicker!

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    Jennifer August 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Hello Tina, I just started following your blog about a month ago, and I love all your advice. I was a runner and basketball player in highschool and off and on worked out all thru college. Now not so much. BUT three weeks ago i decided to train for a 5k! I was so excited. I was using the couch to 5k work out from Cool Running. Two weeks into it I injured myself. The strangest thing, I damaged the tendons on the outside of my heels!! Ouch! Doc says it could take 4-6 weeks until I can attempt to run again. Pretty much can’t do anything! Any suggestions for how to start my training up again after recovery? Any suggestions on things to do in the mean to get in shape? Thank you, Jennifer

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    Ash Bear August 4, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Random question, do you eat the full bag of chomps and the full Gu when you take it?

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    Tina August 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

    @Ash Bear: Yep!

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    Dr. Jen August 27, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Tina,
    I’ve been following your blog for years, but I’m a lurker! Well, here I am at 3am, wide awake & totally freaked out about the 14-miler that I have to begin at 5:30am! I was catching up on blogs to kill the time (and hopefully settle myself back down for a couple of hours), when I saw this post. I am SO freaked out about running anything longer than 10 miles (I was equally freaked out last week for my 12-miler), even though I’ve already run two (less than pleasant) half-marathons. Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one with these doubts!

    WE CAN DO IT!

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    Tina August 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    @Dr. Jen: You can do it!!! :)

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    Dr. Jen August 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks Tina! I did it! Hopefully next week’s 16-miler has a lot less self-doubt and sleeplessness.

    Reply

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