Dealing with Discomfort

“Ya can’t get something for nothing.” To achieve a personal record or sometimes to say
something like “I’ve run the Pike Peak Marathon,” we have to:

  • be well motivated,
  • tolerate a lot of pain,
  • handle intense weariness and tired legs, and
  • continually increase our effort to stay close to the preplanned race pace.

This summary section deals with identifying limiting factors. What do the athletes
themselves say about what limits them. To my knowledge no one single factor has been
offered. Of course, when athletes talk, they say discomfort plays a large role in achieving
personal records. And so does having shaky legs, having negative, doubting self-talk, and going out
too fast at the start of an event.

A Personal Recollection:
Running a marathon and remembering hints about limiting factors

The first article is a recollection of a detailed personal marathon experience that illustrates
the next three articles. The other articles will focus on:

  • how you can be aware of what is happening in your body,
  • how to use the power of your self-talk, and
  • how planning ahead helps determine your endurance performance.

Let’s reexperience running and winning a marathon in 2 hours and 32 minutes on a day
in the late fall, n the mid 40’s and with calm winds. The marathon runner’s plan had
an objective of finishing with a time of 2:30, which required running at a pace slightly
less than a 5:44 min/mile pace.

This recollection hints at the factors that limit endurance performance.

  • Throughout this race this runner monitored what and how he was feeling,
    i.e. his symptoms, for evaluating his level of distress and also by noticing the times
    called out during the race, he knew how fast he was running, i.e. a sign,
    for evaluating if he was close to a preplanned race pace (More on What’s Happening?!).
  • To monitor these symptoms and signs, most runners utilize their self-talk,
    which consists of an on-going dialogue of questions and answers, that he
    constantly used (More on The Power of Self-Talk).
  • Self-talk helped him to stubbornly adhere to a two-part strategy plan consisting
    of many preplanned pace splits and many mental tactics to maintain or revise
    his race performance as needed (More on Plan Ahead).

For tactics, there was a plan to break away from the leaders somewhere between the ½ and
¾ marks. Consequently, his effort in the middle of the race would be continually
and substantially increased to maintain these pace splits.  Toleration of pain and fatigue
was to be emphasized in the last ½ of the race, with the use of previously rehearsed
coping skills emphasizing increasing discomfort rather than how much more the pain
was hurting.

(Go to this article on Running a Marathon)

1. What’s Happening?!

“What’s my pace?” “How am I feeling?” We do, consciously or unconsciously, continuously ask
questions like these during training and racing. In fact, these questions are very influential,
and many of us use them to guide the optimizing of our endurance performance

  • Say that our question is like the first question above and for example is,
    “How fast am I running?” And on this web site, its answer in this example
    will be called a “signs” and will be used for evaluating if the pace matches
    the preplanned pace split. Like: “Does my time at six miles in this marathon
    match my time split of 37 minutes?”
  • Say, if another of our questions is like the second question above, it might be
    “How tired am I?” Its answer comes from monitoring a perception; on this web site,
    the answer is will be called a “symptoms”. This symptom will be used for evaluating
    if the level of distress matches the preplanned tiredness intensity for the marathon
    strategic plan, for example, at the 18 mile mark.

(Go to this article)

2. The Power of Self-Talk

We all talk to our selves. Each one of us is involved in a continuous internal dialogue. A key
presumption is that throughout an event, be it a training session, time trial, or, a race,
the endurance performer continually processes information using, more-or-less,
a series of questions.

One likely series might be: “On pace?” “May be a bit too fast.” “What’ll be the six-mile split?”
“Ah, 36 plus minutes!” “Wow, not too fast [ahead of preplanned time of 37 min].”
Or consider another: “Tired?” “Very” “Tiredness okay?” “Yup” “Keep on?”
“Yes; just run through this pain barrier!”

This article will explore how we use our internal dialogue to make or break setting a personal record
or to stick with your aerobic fitness program.

  • First, let’s explore how self-talk happens.
  • Second, awareness will be discussed in the framework of attention and consciousness
    giving us focused awareness.
  • Third, how do we deal with a negative internal dialogue and replace it with positive self-talk.
  • Finally, the uses of self-talk will be summarized, and tricks will be shown that will allow
    up to maximize our endurance performance.

(Go to this article)

3. Plan Ahead

Last, have you  got a plan when you start a middle- or long-distance event? I certainly hope so!
Developing a strategic plan for an event, whether  it is a race or time trial is an essential step
for distance athletes and their coaches. Of course, this plan depends on the type of locomotion,
e.g., cycling or running, the length and terrain of the course, how best to split up the event
into segments, the forecast for ambient temperature, weather conditions, and
other environmental situations.

This strategic plan can be artificially divided  into at least two parts:

  • pace splits,
  • mental tactics, and
  • supplemental parts can be added for nutritional, environmental, and other challenges.

In reality we are constantly working both/all plan nearly simultaneously in an integrated flow.

(Go to this article)

(Return to Dealing with Discomfort)

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