Boston Marathon 2014 in a Word: Epic

If you’re a runner and you’re not still reeling after the Boston Marathon maybe check your pulse. Epic.

Sorry my International friends, but as an American, seeing Meb Keflezighi take the title and bring Boston back is spine-tingly. Scroll through some of the pictures that have been shared of him crossing the line, the poignant olive wreath placed upon his head, medal around his neck, eyes moist. Raw emotion. An image captures so much more than thousands and thousands of word could ever portray. I’ll only waste an effort with two: #meb #epic

Meb Keflezighi

Photo Credit: tdurden6 Click image for Source


Along with all other runners I’ve devoured the race coverage with the insatiable appetite of, well, a runner. There’s no OD’ing on Boston Marathon coverage thankfully. HERE and HERE are two really great articles, though there are myriads. Having not been there, I can only get my fix vicariously but will share some of my thoughts:

A Tale of Two Leaders

Both Meb and Shalane Flanagan in the women’s race took the lead from the gun. People can argue until they’re blue in the face over whether this is the kiss of death move or not. Meb held on until the end, unfortunately for all her American supporters Shalane did not.

However, regardless, both runners prove this: they were HUNGRY. Tenacious. Willing to put it ALL out there. Shalane quoted HERE, “I literally ran as hard as I could…I feel pretty ill right now…I’m proud of how I ran.” Rightfully she’s probably pissed she didn’t win but she’s NOT left with lingering questions over whether or not she put it all out there on the course. She crossed the line, 3-minute PR, physically ill later her body proving as such, no questions in her mind. She’s also sure as hell going to be back. Quoted from Competitor, “I will be back here until I win it,” Flanagan affirms.

Meb was just as hell-bound to win, but surprised he was left to lead most of the race. Marathons can be tactical just as much a test of fitness. He knew he didn’t boast of the fastest PR going into the race but he proved today he was the smartest racer.

Loved this quote found HERE from him;”I knew it was a loaded field. I didn’t have a 2:04, 2:05 PR, but guess what? I have the Boston Marathon title.”

To Hell With Age and Doubters

Meb is just about to turn 40. People were shocked and amazed when he won the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon and he’s now older. He runs in Sketchers. Sorta enough said. There’s a lot changing in the world of running sponsorships and contracts which is a whole different matter…but the point is Meb had doubters.

Everyone has doubters, but he also had supporters and trust in himself. So he ran in Sketchers, put in the work, and just stepped away the Boston Marathon Champ. “I was delighted to have 99.9 percent of my career fulfilled, but today – 110 percent,” he’s quoted HERE.

Shalane has still got plenty of years. She makes it quite clear she’s still just as hungry for the Boston Marathon title. Her fans are only going to be cheering louder and louder.

Everyone, us mortal runners of the world, should take a cue from both harriers. Both of them are confident as hell…they are humans so do have moments of doubt like the rest of us…but they tell those doubts and their doubters to suck it.

Then they step to the line as fierce competitors, and go.

Run Better, Erase Your Doubts

Shhhh…I’ll tell you a secret. Every runner has doubts. It’s just human nature. EVERYONE has that little voice in their head that’s willing to be insecure.
doubt and branches

The thing is though, while you can’t control the presence of doubts, you CAN control if you decide to listen to them.

Don’t. You’ll run better when you tell your doubts to shut the h*ll up.

TRUST in your abilities. Trust in yourself…have confidence.

It’s a sick irony that some of the most capable, amazingly talented people (and runners) are held back by one little thing…

…doubt.
trust yourself don't doubt
An inner self-critic robs you of your confidence, it steals your achievements, it cripples you, it institutes your limits. Quite often with us type-A runners, we can turn into our own worst enemies.

That should make you PISSED, get mad as h*ll!! Turn that rage AGAINST the inner critic. Use that fiery anger to erase your doubts and instead…

…trust.

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Related Reads:
Underestimate Me: Confidence is malleable, believe in yourself through it all

Runners, Get Your Confidence On: Workouts to build the confidence you need to race your best

#epicfailWIN: Why failures rock and shouldn’t steal your confidence

Combat Excuses and Run Mentally Tough Even When Things Suck
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1) Finish this sentence: “Today I will be confident. I will erase the doubt that I _______________”

Ruling Your Fear: Running Like a Gamer, Fear be Da**ed

Let’s talk fear. Okay, I’ll break the silence and let you in on a dirty little secret: EVERY runner has fear. Regardless of how fast they are, how much they’ve accomplished, the Gold medals sitting in those shiny cases…every, single, runner has fear.

Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that you WANT something. You have goals, you want to hit them and you’re scared/nervous/anxious because if you fall up short…then what? Fear merely proves you have goals that MATTER to you.
running motivation art
With running there is also the fear of the pain. BAM. I just touched on the TWO big taboos runners are never to speak of in the span of less than 150 words: fear and pain. Knowing that pain is going to be there, that you’re going to have to be mentally tough and push through that pain, that you’re NOT going to let that pain break you…that’s also where a large part of a runner’s fear comes from. And it also explains why, every runner, regardless of how good they are, be they professional or back of the packer will harbor some ‘fear’…every runner goes through pain. It’s part of our sport.

Now the thing is, the big difference between elite runners who race like ballers and every other runner who races like a gamer and the runners who implode is: the gamers don’t let the FEAR rule them. Gamers rule the fear. They turn the fear around, use that energy more as nervous-excited rather than nervous-fearful/worried. See the difference? It’s all in the mind.

Not letting fear rule you is difficult, even the most experience runners go through periods where they may struggle and need to get back on track. And to be honest, there’s always going to be a point in a race or workout where you’re riding a fine line between keeping your fear in check, “Am I seriously going to believe I can make it at THIS pace for THIS much longer?”

Combat The Fear

* Find Your Confidence: Not letting fear rule you means you push those doubts aside with reminders of why you ARE a gamer. Think of past workouts, know that you’re mentally tough, know you’ve survived plenty of times when you’re mind began to doubt your ability…and you proved that silly mind wrong.
* Find Your Mojo: Tap into that confidence and a part of that is just realizing WHY you’re doing something. Without the ‘why’ as a driving force it’s easy to just let the fear take over and not give a flip over the outcome. Set some goals and know WHY you’re willing fight through this fear and OWN it.
* Relax: The thing with running and pain and then running through that pain, if you try and ‘fight’ it you usually wind up running slower. Kinda like you just have to ‘relax’ into the pain, let it come, than do your best to just numb it out. If this makes sense? To put this into more ‘physical’ terms, a good way to describe it is to just make sure your form and body is relaxed, you’re not clenching your jaw or fists or scrunching your shoulders up near your neck. Relax your body, relax your mind, don’t ‘try too hard’ and don’t ‘fight it’.
#epicfailWIN picture
Everyone has fear, and that spans across all areas in life, but I’ve always found the best way to rule your fear is to DO what’s scary and prove that you lived through it. The more times you get through it, the less scary it becomes because you’ve built up your confidence.

I’ll tell you what helps me, and I’m be brutally honest, I say it like it is to myself, “Stop being a freaking idiot, just effing DO it.” Now, usually I’m not fearful of workouts, but I ultimately realize that the fear is stupid. Just effing do it would certainly apply across the board though, and with running sometimes that tough love is what you need. ;)

As for running, you can never let fear of workouts or racing turn into a monster: 1) because that sucks any fun out of running in the first place 2) you’ll implode in the workouts or races. Rather, just STOP thinking so much and freaking start. Just get going, relax, and roll with it…fear be da**ed.

The reason I feel it important to SHARE that EVERY RUNNER has fear is because you shouldn’t feel like a weakling just for having fear. You’re only a ‘weakling’ if you let that FEAR rule YOU. If that’s the case, don’t lose hope because you can always turn that around…tap into your confidence and race like the GAMER you want to be. ;)

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I wanted to do a post on fear because it came up in a really great article by Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running. Read “7 Quick Lessons from my 16th Place Finish at the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon” because it’s filled with tons of important recovery tips for runners. The bit on doubts is what triggered my idea for this post. SR is a great resource for runners, so go, stay and check out all his awesome reads!

I also talk a lot more on the mental side of running and tips to tune out that pain in my ebook “Effective Mental Strategy: Race better by out-thinking your brain”
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1) Fear is ever-present in running and in life. What is the last things you had fear or anxiety about?
2) How did you deal with that fear in a positive, GAMER way? Or did you find that fear won that time?
3) The last time fear won, how did you learn from that experience and make it so you can overcome that fear going forward?
Yo, we all lose sometimes, it’s just important to learn and make that a productive ‘loss’.

#epicfailWIN: Why failures rock

Runners can never, ever fear ‘failure’. In fact, failures are NOT a bad thing. To fail means that you set a high enough goal. You stepped outside your comfort zone, you DREAMED you could achieve something great.

Failures are often the most powerful learning tools. Bad race, horrendous workout…you have to not only experience them you have to FORCE yourself to get through them. Soak up the experience, actually feel how much that suckiness that was.

Take those sucky feelings and channel them into:
motivation
determination
confidence.

#epicfailWIN picture

Confidence, you say? Yes, confidence.

A runner who pushes through when things really suck should be brimming with confidence. It’s way too easy to run an amazing workout when your legs feel like gold. To have a phenomenal race when it happens to be one of those ‘magic days’. Magic days are the exception, legs that feel like they’re running on clouds are the rarity.

To grit out a workout and keep your mind IN THE RACE when things are tough, that is mental toughness. The same goes for obstacles and challenges you didn’t expect, sudden curve balls that really test you. Get through them, keep moving forward. Those experiences, those trials, the hard times, even when you put in your best effort and the clock is brutally honest…THOSE are necessary to build a strong runner.

You survive knowing you still put in your best and never mentally gave up when things get tough, and that should give you the most confidence in the world. Those should make you think, “Look, I got through it and stayed tough when I felt like crap. Just imagine how well I’m going to run when my body and my legs feel GREAT.”

Redefine failure in your mind. After a bad workout or race, yes, you are allowed to be miffed, to be peeved. But channel all of that into a productive mindset. Rather than think as a defeatist, use the burning embers of anger as fuel for motivation and determination. Then look for any lessons you can learn from the race. (Did you go out too fast…again?? Wise up! haha)

Then COME BACK. The only time a failure SHOULD make you embarassed is if it’s the end of your road. You give up and stop your story right there.

I want you to now share with me YOUR epic fails turned epic wins. Share your stories about an obstacle you faced, overcame, and came out a stronger runner and person because of it. Tell me also about your epic fail of a race, and either tell me how you came back later to make it a ‘redemption race’ epic win…OR…if you just had this epic fail tell me how you’re going to use that in a way to reach an epic win.

You can blog about, post a picture, make some artage (you know how much I’d really love that!) and then tweet me @caitlinchock with the hashtag #epicfailWIN and a link to your epic fail win moment/story/picture/etc.

So, Runner Friends, embrace your failures because they make you stronger.

1) You know what to do, get to gather your epic fail win moment…I can’t wait to hear all about them! #epicfailWIN

This Is Your Runner Brain on Stress: The hormonal reason to all those pre-race nerves

The moments leading up to a race are this crazy mix of emotions: excitement, anticipation, terror??, chomping at the bit eagerness, hope, motivation, forced relaxation (attempted??)…flip, you name it! Poised at the starting line, every runner can relate to the feeling that they just may burst if that freaking starter doesn’t fire the gun! CRACK!!

Adrenaline, cortisone, hormones flooding the body. This is the internal environment of your body before the start of a race. This is stress on the body. I read an interesting article in Fast Company, it’s actually a business piece and questioning if the brain can actually be addicted to stress.

runner yelling track

This is your face yelling at the starter to just, “FIRE THE GUN!!”


After-all, stress puts the body into that fight or flight mode. I think everyone can relate to the rush you feel when you’ve waited until the LAST second to hit a deadline…some people are even convinced that their best stuff comes under that gun of procrastination. But stress is physical, the brain releases certain chemicals, the nervous system operates differently.

The same happens with runners. Many of those same chemicals are coursing through your veins leading up to races, and even workouts. We know those feelings, we know that buzz, and heck, I’ll totally agree that feeling is addictive. Why do you think us runners keep signing up for races, go out to nail that next workout, we love the rush that comes with it. Mostly the rush that comes AFTER…but the whole experience in itself is darn-right thrillingly addictive.

The problem though, is putting your body through that entire hormone/chemical crazed onslaught is wearing. Your body would literally explode (well, probably not literally actually) if it was in that heightened state forever. And the body DOES start to deteriorate if you put and keep it in that state for too long.

Runner Bones

Add some hormones to those bones and we’ve got it.


This is where runners get into trouble when they let their nerves get the better of them and they (literally) explode in races and workouts. Bwahahaha…when I say explode here, I’m actually meaning implode. They Bomb.

You have to keep all that nervous energy in check. As an athlete you need to, to a degree, control the release of all that adrenaline, cortisone, and all the other crazy hormones. Overriding that body’s natural instinct of fighting or flighting mode is difficult, and takes work. Naturally some athletes are just BETTER at mentally managing that, they’re the gamers. The trickier thing is, as with natural talents, describing HOW they do it isn’t something they can really put into words. They just DO it.

Though controlling your race and workout day nerves is still a skill that is totally possible. And just like mental toughness, it’s a skill that every runner continually hones and learning to get better at is a process. You find tricks that work, not everything works for everyone…and it’s like trial and error. This is where you take any and all bad races/workouts and use them to your benefit. Did I learn something that didn’t work here? Did I learn, then, what I’m going to try next time to make things work? Looking for key lessons from bad workouts includes both physical and mental things.

A bit of a personal thing here, I’ve always loved racing. That feeling is fan-freaking-tastic, and (this never happens, brace yourself, I never blatantly give myself a compliment. Ever. I’m working on that, but I’m petrified people will think I’m bragging! So I want to preface this with I’m not bragging, but this is something I’m kinda proud of.) when I was racing I was able to manage and handle that race day nervous energy well and perform better than my workouts suggested. So I’ll kinda share what I think helped me….I always remembered this:

Interestingly the calm slips away the moment the gun in fired. I think THAT, the wanting to just get into the calm zone, at least for me, was most of the reasons my skin would crawl, itch, buzz, wanting…craving the gun to just go off. Let’s just start doing this thing!!

Anticipation is always the worst feeling. In a roller coaster, it’s the anticipating the drop that sucks, the oddly freaky sensation of your stomach lifting, that’s the fun part. Just like running where we battle the love-hate relationship with the pain of racing, it’s a love-hate thing with that stomach dropping feeling. I think a big part of the nervous anticipation is that we KNOW there is a tug-of-war about to ensue…and we (hope we are!) want to be TOUGH enough when the true test comes. We know we’ve been tough before and loved/embraced that sensation…so we need to remind ourselves we will be just as mentally tough again and come through with sailing colors. Knowing that the crack of the gun will unleash the inner gamer in us all, is reassuring.

It’s the anticipating, wait for the gamer to come out, that makes us want to grab the starter pistol and fire it ourselves! With the CRACK come the relief…the release. The moment that happens, our bodies know what to do. What, as runners, we’ve conditioned them to do. With the crack of the gun we FINALLY, liberatingly are free of thinking.

1) Stress…love it, hate it, think you can be addicted to it?
2) Do you think runners are ‘addicted’ to the feeling of racing and workouts?
3) Do you think my little anticipation theory is anywhere close to something that resonates with you?

Minions Who Go Out Too Fast Get Bootylock

Oh, the faces of the poor runners who went out to fast and are paying for it. #bootylocksucks
minions running a race
Kinda crazy how it hits you like THAT…no slow slip into lactic acid h***…nope, you’re feeling fine, then BAM!!!

Please, Runners, take a cue from these poor guys. Runner PSA: NEGATIVE split. ;)

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More race tips HERE
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1) Worst bootylock experience?
2) Funniest bootylock experience?
3) How many times did it take you to learn not to get sucked into going out too fast?
We all have to learn the cruel way a few times…

Be Fierce, Be Strong, Be a Competitor

Racing is a fierce sport. Take no prisoners. Competition.
Racing is
thrilling
spine-tingling
adrenaline
pushing
pressing
competing.
Pain. fighting. lactic acid.
MENTAL TOUGHNESS
skulls on a track
Running is a test. Against yourself. Your competitors are there to PUSH you to your best.
Competition is a gift. THEY will elevate you, take you places you didn’t think you could go. PUSH you past pain thresholds your mind told you you’d never go.

Racing is fierce. It’s better than a blood sport, it’s a game of wills. You are the pawn, the King, the Queen, and dictator.
You control what the body puts out. Be fierce. Be strong.
Be a competitor.

You amped yet? Good luck to anyone and everyone racing this weekend…track season is always so freaking exciting! :)

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NEVER fear your competition…they are there to help you. Read more…
Race day tips HERE
A little dark or serious today? More posts on MOTIVATION and CARTOONS :)
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1) Finish these sentences: Race day is…
2) When I think of my competition, I…
3) I am in control of my race, I know I’ve put my best out there by…

A Runner’s Starting Line Confidence

Sometimes a runner’s already won the race before the gun’s even goes off. Questions. Doubts. Insecurities. None of these belong at the starting line; starting line of a race or a workout. A runner needs confidence. NEEDS it… no amount of physical endurance, speed, or fitness can make up for it.

How one steps to the line is what separates the GAMERS from the runners who perform at about the level they do in workouts, and then harriers who self-implode.
runners confidence
Confidence is a tricky one, it’s a mental factor of running and training. Once shaken, a runner’s confidence can be quite difficult to fully restore. Injuries, off days, strings of bad races, all of these plant seeds of doubt. Doubt is like a monster that, once you feed it, it grows exponentially in size. It’s a voracious monster that will eat a runner whole. Step to the starting line enveloped in that ugly monster and you might as well not even wait for the gun to crack. You’re already a dead runner ‘running’.

By the time you step to the starting line, there is NOTHING you can change about the past. Stop any questions of, “Should I have done…?”, “Did I do enough…?”, etc. You can’t do it, so no use worrying about it.

Don’t let that scare you off, if you’ve got some doubts, that’s only natural. And if you’re currently fighting from falling into the pit with that ugly doubting monster, THERE IS still hope for you yet. It works two ways. You CAN restore your confidence. You CAN still step to the line a gamer. It just takes some work and shifting your thinking.

Usually doubts start from one of two places:

1) An Event: Events would be after injuries, poor performances, etc…it starts with a legitimate reason to question if your fitness is off and snowballs. Usually the first race or workouts back after an injury a runner naturally goes in with a little more trepidation. You need some solid performances under you belt to steamroll that confidence train back.
To help BOOST that train, remember that your talent and fitness never goes away. Your first race back may not be your PR, but trust in the process, trust in your dedication, and trust that you’re only going to improve from here.

2) Anxiety and Stress: Anxiety and stress tend to spike around pre-race time. I wrote whole posts HERE and HERE on how to use those nerves to your advantage. If you let too much pressure, internal and external, load you up, it’s like running with a weight vest. To help unload that pressure, usually it takes the runner looking within THEMSELVES and finding that passion and love for running that brought them to the sport. If they can get back the excitement and joy for just running, eventually the times, workouts, and races will get back on track.

Ironically, the LESS you think about races and workouts, typically the better you’ll do.

Remember that NO race is the last race in the world. Yes, it can be a Championship race or a PR you’ve been wanting to pop FOREVER…but know that tomorrow will always come and another race will too.

1) Where do you draw your confidence from before a race?
2) How do you use a race day atmosphere to BOOST your performance compared to regular workouts?
3) Have you ever had a time when your confidence was shaken, how did you get it back?

Endorphins: Picture a world that much sweeter

Trust me, there is something special about those endorphins…more powerful than even speed goggles. EVERYTHING just looks and feels better with a brain full of post-run endorphins. Those problems feel just a smidgen less monstrously terrible, food tastes better, even that neighbor you hate is slightly more tolerable. The world is just a better place after you’ve got your run on.

Now, certainly endorphins have a shelf-life…gosh, dang it! The answer though is simple…get up, run, get your endorphin shot, go to bed, repeat.
life is better on endorphins
Living the life of a runner is like being in one of those revolving doors. It’s not a stagnate state, it’s ALWAYS moving. Tomorrow wipes the slate clean, and you have to start that run all over again. Some people could see that as a negative, “Dangit, I worked by butt off yesterday but when I go to bed I’ve gotta get up and do it all over again.”

Wiped clean, but not erased. Let’s look at the many positives of living in the running revolving door:

* Injures pass: Stuck in the middle of an injury it kinda feels like that door is stalling out…maybe it’s broken and you’re trapped in injury purgatory FOREVER. But time passes, injuries heal, and eventually you get back to your runs. Then savor them.
* Training accumulates: When tomorrow wipes the slate clean, it HARDLY erases all that hard work put in. This is the beauty of training cycles, the runs and hard workouts build upon the next, so that revolving door is more like an escalator. Riiiiide it, baby. BUT…it only goes up if you stay consistent in moving through those doors, you have to be consistent with your running and putting in the work.
* Bad races are wiped away: There will always be days that bring you bad races and horrible workouts. Can’t avoid them, the good news is you can LEARN from every off performance and after that, shake off the crappy run and get moving towards the next AWESOME run.
* ALWAYS another opportunity: Perhaps the most wonderful and motivating part of the revolving door is that there is ALWAYS another run, race, day, workout, waiting. So even in the most down times of your running, take a shower and set your sights on tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that…and just keep running.

So if you’re reading this in brilliant HI-DEF, magni-color vision…you must have gotten back from your run. If the world is looking a little grey, though, you know what you need to do…

1) List another benefit of tomorrow always ‘wiping’ away yesterday.
2) Name another major perk of endorphins?
3) Last lesson you learned from a bad day?