by Anne Stancil
One of the easiest ways to psyche yourself out before a race or a long run is to think about the geographical distance that you will travel between familiar landmarks or even cities depending on the distance. I know because I have done this. Believe me, the last thing you should think about waiting to start an Ironman triathlon is that you are about to swim, bike and run the approximate driving distance from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago. It will mess with your head. Because we run many loops and out and back courses when we train, the point to point equivalent often eludes us. Conversely, when you finish your training run or event, you should pat yourself on the back about the fact that you just ran the distance between, say, between Glendale and downtown Phoenix (which is the distance of a half-marathon).
Recently our Marathon Training Group ran a point-to-point 17 mile training run from from Fleet Feet Tanque Verde to Fleet Feet Oracle Crossings as part of our grand opening festivities. Pretty cool, right? All of us at Fleet Feet Tucson are thrilled to bring our service and products to the west side of town, we thought running from one store to the other was a unique way to celebrate. Knowing your run will begin on the East side of Tucson and end up in Oro Valley can be somewhat difficult to wrap your head around, however, especially since most of us have only made this trip by car, or perhaps by bicycle. It's not the physical effort spent running across Tucson that is of interest to me, rather the mental game we play with ourselves when it comes to distance. Why is it that running a 17 mile out and back course doesn't seem as daunting, but visualizing running the distance we've traveled countless times by car can be so frightening?
Back in high school before I started running, a friend of mine's father had car trouble about 10 miles from home. He was unable to reach anyone to pick him up and didn't want to wait for AAA. He happened to have his running shoes in the car, so he just ran home. I was so impressed by this--he ran all the way from the Kennestone Hospital parking lot to our neighborhood (this would be amazing to you too as an un-fit high schooler in suburban Atlanta). I decided right then and there that I wanted to be able to run from point A to point B if necessary. Today, however, after traveling many miles by foot, I still get nervous thinking about the actual distance I'm running. Luckily, our marathon group embraced the point-to-point Traverse Tucson challenge--they even had fun!
This week we have an in-store clinic devoted to the mental aspects of racing and training. We spend a good deal of time preparing physically, but mental fitness is just as important, if not more important to success. If you are like me and easily fall into the trap of self-doubt, plan to join us Thursday, October 17th at Fleet Feet Tanque Verde to learn tips for mental toughness. I plan to Traverse Tucson on foot soon, and I will embrace the run rather than allow myself to become frightened by it. Who's with me?