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Head Games


We did St. Anthony’s triathlon last weekend and it was fun to go do as it was one for the first major triathlons I ever did back in the 90’s. In fact, it was the first triathlon I ever took a plan e to lane to go do. So to get the chance to get that race in was a lot of fun.

The only trouble with the racing part of the trip were my achillies. I have haglunds deformity on both heels and some calcium in both tendons. I have been told that they will require surgery, and the might. I have also been told to try to put off the surgery as long as possible. All I know is when I have been running lately I have been in a lot of pain. I am not sure if it is in my head more than before because I have been researching or if they are legitimately worse.

One of the things that I believe you need to do with the any situation with this is to get a clear path in your head of what you want to do. I know that when I have things like this, or injuries, or whatever, I need to get resolution through a plan.

For the race my plan was to run in trainer shoes. After doing a lot of research I need to find a shoe with a high heel toe drop and something without too much cushion because instability will add to the stress of the tendon. That’s going to be a little bit of an issue because I have a separate issue with my fore foot which will require a bit more cushion. Of course this couldn’t be easy. J

So armed with my training shoes, which I even took time to tie in transition I came off the bike in what I thought was first in my age group. When I started to run my legs were feeling worse then I feel in a 70.3! I’m sure it was a combination of things such as I didn’t really focus on the race and was trying to vacation while there. It was very hot and humid. Lower 90’s which is a lot different than Chicago. I knew my shoes were 2x heavier than the shoes I race in normally. To make matters worse I looked down at my Garmin hoping to see between 6-6:15 and saw a lot of 7 min miles and slower! OMG, I was dying and the feedback I was getting from everything was making it worse.

Trying not to panic I told myself that to think about the basics: quick feet, form, positive thoughts, not over thinking, not concentrating on the negatives. I hit the first mile in 6:05, WHEW! That helped but the garmin was still off the entire race. I had to mentally fight all the feedback I was getting the entire race. I held it together to run a 40 min 10k which isn’t lighting the world on fire but good enough to won the AG by 9 min, and 5th overall.

My point in telling you this is not to say that I did well, but that I did well DESPITE dealing with all the negative opportunities. We are all going to have days ahead us that will present opportunities to take negative mental paths which I promise you will lead to worse results. It’s HARD to not fall into that trap.  Try to find mental practices to fall back on.

In my experience, I need to focus more on process then results. It doesn’t do me any good in those times to visualize having won the race. That’s clearly not what is happening then. What I do try to practice is paying attention to physical cues in training when everything is feeling good and then telling myself I can do these things even when things are going badly. For example, if your cadence is up while having a good run, I try to tell myself that even if my legs are too tired to push hard, I can still turn them over quickly. Or relax shoulders, or forward lean. All these things are metal tools you can use to help you in tough situations.

More than likely you’re not going to have the day you had hoped, but if you hold it together, you can avoid have a bad day, and actually do a lot better then you think.

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