While I was tapering for the Nashville Country Music Marathon in 2007, I went on tear, scrounging up every bit of inspirational information I could to fuel my marathon obsession. Among my impulse grabs from the library: an old edition of Runner’s World’s “Guide to Running,” a sort of beginner’s running bible.
Most of the information was, as you’d imagine, pretty basic. But there’s a gem of a chapter laying out what to do, wear, eat and think every day the two weeks leading up to a marathon. Overkill? Maybe. But I’m a planner (or, as others would put it, “obsessive compulsive”), and the neat structure of it all appeals to my sense of order in the world.
I’m revisiting that chapter this week, as I chill out and wait for the Marine Corps Marathon in nine days (gulp!). It’s been instrumental in my efforts to desperately to avoid unhelpful negative thoughts (“Will my hip be so messed up after, I won’t be able to walk? Or will it just be time off running?” or: “Will I slow down 30 second per mile in the second half, or more than that?” NOT helpful.).
Since the cheesy visualization exercises are helping me so much, I’m going to share them here, and let you know how I’m applying them. One helpful suggestion: Use every training run leading up to the marathon to visualize a chunk of miles of the actual marathon. Today’s exercise: Visualize yourself running the first five miles of the race. You’re feeling strong, letting other runners whiz past you — you’ll pass them later. You’re feeling good, even able to chat with runners around you.
For me, this means the first mile through Rosslyn, the second and third miles on Lee Highway/Spout Run, and the fourth and fifth miles in Georgetown. I’ll make myself hit the water stop at mile 4. I’ll congratulate myself on running an evenly paced race as I pass 9 minutes at the first mile marker, 18 minutes at the second, and so forth, completing the first five miles in something like 45 minutes.
By the way: You should know, as I post these confessions of my dream marathon, that dream-marathon Amy adjusts to changes on the fly, gracefully retooling her goal time and resulting splits according to what her body’s telling her is possible that day. I’m not, like, married to 9-minute miles or anything.
These visualization exercises will happen on a treadmill for me today. Steve and I aren’t skipping our group run tonight because it’s our four-year wedding anniversary (happy anniversary to us!). We’d planned to go, but I don’t want to invite my head cold to come back because I’m dumb enough to run in the cold rain with an already-compromised immune system. Instead, I’ll squeeze in three 1-miler repeats sometime today, and will enjoy a nice, relaxing dinner at home with him tonight, which I think is just what the doctor ordered.