Most of the readers of this blog know that running is a confidence sport. If you're not confident in yourself and your abilities when you go to the starting line then you're screwed. You need to have a pretty singular purpose and the best athletes all tend to have an almost effervescent bubbling self belief that they "will" win. This is related to this blog - but only indirectly because this blog is about having confidence in your training.
This last winter it's been particularly relevant to me. Most of you who know me know that until my marathon build up I was pretty much a dyed in the wool track year-round kind of guy - or at the very least similar tough interval sessions year round. Following last year's succesful marathon build up (and subsequent injury in the recovery period) I started taking a slightly different approach in conjunction with my coach. Very few interval work-outs at all and simply a tempo run once a week. I knew this would be difficult to do and would be hard - especially as I knew that with just a few weeks interval training my fitness level would sky-rocket. Unfortunately- after that sky-rocket initial start if you're not careful you can rapidly end up with a halt to any progress.
So I've had to pretty much sit back, run the miles, feel the fitness building (but only slowly) and have trust that I'm getting there. There have been a few glimpses - strong tempo runs or long runs for the most part the key one being a 7 mile tempo at 5:20 pace which let me know I was improving - but mostly I've just had to keep the faith and have confidence that it was there. As Mike Boucher (who runs marathons better than just about anybody) once put it I believe "You don't grow potatoes by uprooting them and checking they're growing every week".
So - the first race of my season is rapidly approaching. Since London last year my perspective has changed quite a bit - I'm now focusing much more on a single race and building towards that. It's intense but I think helps me concentrate far better on what is important and bringing the effort for that one single day. Obviously I've had a bit of fun in the last week ( a 20 mile off-road race I won, and a pretty decent Teddy Hall Relay's leg on very tired legs!) - but I actually have very little idea of what shape I am in for the Reading Half next week. I'm sincerely hoping it'll be sub 70 - the real impact will be this final week of tapering.
I'm coming off a very strong block of around 4 weeks averaging in the mid 90s - for me that's a big step forwards. Now we just need to see if it pays off. Unfortunately my speedwork got delayed about 5 weeks ago for a week due to a quad problem (ideally I would have done a couple more weeks of faster work) but I still hope to put a good marker down and then see how the rest of the season goes.
Take care everyone - have confidence in your training and be glad - the summer is rapidly approaching!
See you at the races.