Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Training Week Worthy of an Oprah Quote

"Where there is no struggle, there is no strength."

You know those training weeks where the miles click by, life basically stays out of the way, and you can always go faster if you wanted to. Well, for the most part, I did not have one of those weeks!  I did, however, probably get more out of this week than those where I feel like I can do no wrong-I mean, doesn't Oprah Winfrey say it all in the opening quote. *In full disclosure I googled who owned that quote and was a little surprised it was the queen of talk. But I digress...and I do think O is absolutely right here.

And let me be clear that the struggle was completely self-induced-okay, most of it anyway. This training week looked pretty innocent on paper but my subconscious thought it would be a good idea to try and sabotage my strength gains. It almost succeeded a couple times. Almost-but we are all better and more capable than the lies that our limbic systems (you know, that deep brain structure that houses memory and emotion) generate when we're doing something challenging. 

Sometimes the only way to get out of our own way is to forcefully reach down inside to find something stronger within than the negative voices that are telling up to quit, that we're not good enough, too old, too big, too weak, it's too humid, whatever. Confession: all those things may have popped in my head at the beginning of my seemingly innocent workout on Tuesday-and yes, I resent each statement. 

So what set the stage for what felt like a boxing match instead of a long fartlek was probably rolling not one but both ankles on my 14 miler a few days before (LONG story-maybe I'll tell another time). I had forgotten that what seemed like an embarrassing inconvenience turned into some sore calves days later. 

Starting my warm up I was uncomfortable below the knee and it was 95% humidity and warm. I also forgot to buy more coffee so I felt half awake and more unfocused than usual. Caffeine addiction apparently is no joke! The calves loosened up and I started my timed ladder intervals and felt like I was full of sand. Full of sand and like I had a sweater sleeve shoved down my throat. Grotesque, isn't it?! So of course the HR soared and I started to freak. Ok not really, but the inner dialogue started to lean towards stepping off the track and waiting for a better day to do this workout; I mean, the recovery intervals are really short after all..... This lasted several minutes until I made the decision to just try ONE more interval-see if I can challenge myself and my current mood. The workout was not pretty, but the most important thing became not quitting or letting up-and besides, who really needs oxygen anyway?? ;)

Low and behold, this strategy worked. This run was really, really, hard, but I decided that I would get more out of doing something really hard in crap conditions than just gallivanting through another pristine morning. This is not where resilient individuals live. They live in the places where others dare not go because they feel they are not worthy or strong enough. You don't grow if you don't subject yourself to less-than-ideal and push through.

The rest of the week brought time-management challenges as I had to work later on a number of nights and be flexible, which isn't always the easiest thing for me to do. I had to refocus a couple times away from how hot and tired I was and refocus on gaining toughness.

...But c'mon, it's just a workout, what's the big deal here? 

This experience may help me later on in a race, but just the fact that I aggressively went after something that was really hard for me carried over into the rest of my day. More and more I feel like I am returning to the mindset that I adopted when I first started to run seriously-I did it for how it made me feel. I liked doing hard things for the internal payoff and competing with myself. There was nobody there to yell at me or give encouragement, I had to do it all myself. Sometimes, it really is what we do when nobody's watching that makes all the difference. Do it for yourself, honor your talents and honor God, and things will take care of themselves.

Now, that's real strength.

Carpe Viam.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Just a Little Shift

So....before we get into the content today, I wanted to thank everyone who still reads this tiny little blog tucked away in the corner of cyberspace. After some inspiring conversations with others, and my own observations of how this blog has slowly evolved just as my training and racing has, I thought I'd broaden things up a bit. Adrienne Langelier will definitely still be Racing, but I decided that perhaps a name and theme change is due.

What you can expect besides dissections of my mental state and strategies at races is a more reasonably in-depth perspective on my training-both physiological and mental, relevant tips and developments in the field of sport psychology, the good, bad, and in-between of balancing my growing career as a sport psych professional/counselor (what I can share anyway;)), and probably get some more book and product reviews going to keep things diverse and (hopefully) interesting. We arrived at the new name "Sportybrains", well, because it just seems fitting for a slightly geeky thirty-something running and sports enthusiast trying to make things happen in my small corner of the world.


Anything you want to learn about, I'm all ears-don't be shy! I can be reached at [email protected]

Carpe Viam.
Let's go! It's gonna be a fun next few months! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Honest Race Report: Lessons on Allen Parkway

Decompensation: loss of physiological or psychological compensation; often due to stress exceeding one's available resources 

After some debate about how to write this report up, I have decided to just keep it real and honest here. Yesterday I ran my first 10k in several years at Houston's competitive Bayou City Classic and let's just say I gathered a lot of useful data there while FEELING like I got my ass handed to me out there. It happens, I know this, but man, I had to work for a 3rd AG spot. And I never did lose possession of my arse- it just felt that way! This post is not intended to be overly-emotional or an ungrateful rant of a race gone wrong, it just is as it was based on my own experience. 

Let's look at the objective first; at least the stuff I want to remember and discuss:

Time: 43:48, first mile in 6:14, 1st 5k in 20:20 something. Not bad. Positively split quite a bit the second half-obviously. 

Placement: 3rd AG 30-34 

Total miles on the day: 10 including race and warmup and cooldown 

Conditions: 85 or so percent humidity, 54 degrees, head and crosswinds at 16+  mph

Gear: Now-Custom Oiselle/CryoWellness team singlet, Oiselle Distance shorts, New Balance 1500s. Uniform on point. 

Now onto the subjective....

I'll be honest with everyone-I wasn't able to connect well the mental and physical at all yesterday (see above definition). It happens to us all, and yesterday was my day to tour the struggle bus. 

"You can't run someone else's race" -Bill Dwyer 

I made two glaring mistakes at the race yesterday that are probably pretty simple to fix. First thing, my race plan was too ambiguous-I am not the type of runner to just go "run a good effort" and see what happens. While I like the idea of being creative and letting things unfold, it's nice to have a little more structure. I went out with a front pack and hung with them for the first 2-3 miles, which is a nice reflection of my current 5k ability, but I ended up blowing up from going out on a wavelength that really wasn't mine and my thoughts were all over the place and a lot of them were not useful. I found it really hard to get in a rhythm, which came really easy in my last race. I felt like I had nothing left coming back into the city. 

On a more psychological level, I dealt with an unusual level of performance anxiety for this race. I don't consider myself a 'hot mess' racer by any stretch, but even though I looked composed, I lost my stuff a little yesterday when I look back on it.

Normally I am pretty good with managing this, but I'll admit that the BCC has intimidated me in the past for some reason and the newness of the distance got the best of me. This lasted a couple days and I perhaps worked a little too hard to control the nerves instead of accept them leading up. If you were to have measured my cortisol levels before taking the start line, they would likely have been sky high-once we reach a certain point on race day, it's really hard to get it back-no matter who you are. *Don't believe me, see pic below* 

Now I instruct others on the regular to look at these events as a challenge instead of a threat, and I ended up going the other direction for this race. Looks like I have some mental work to do myself to experience more consistent results, and I am okay with that. Racing is really all about data collection and using experiences to improve, and I got a lot of rich information yesterday-like to slow my roll and keep better perspective. 

I was happy with still getting some hardware and finding a decent kick after feeling like my head and lungs were full of sand. Fortunately, I will only continue to improve and get stronger and I now have something to work towards in improving in this distance. We have to screw up sometimes in order to set appropriate goals in future outings.  I was going through my Believe training journal and coincidentally, the following section was a review on mental strength. I had to share this pic as it sums up what I dealt with yesterday pretty well: 



Naturally, my process goal for my next race on 4/9 is to practice reframing the race experience. Hopefully this is helpful for some of you all too! It's good to have some things to work on both training-wise (handling longer races) and mentally (perspective and managing anxiety). 


After the race I reviewed stuff with Coach Doug and we will adjust accordingly and I'm still healthy and ready to take on next week's workouts after recovering today. Thanks for helping me process! 

Onward. 

Stay the course.