Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Psychology of a Pilgrim - pilgrimage day 3

When we start a job or a task it can be overwhelming. Especially when it will take 3, 4, 5 or more hours of concerted effort.

The last few days I've been starting the day almost despondent. 20+ miles? That's a very long way. Especially as the plan was basically to run without any scheduled breaks to about 13 miles, have as bite to eat and then finish the day.  It led to lots (and lots) of unscheduled breaks where I didn't walk as I'd decided I was going to run.

So today I changed two things.

Firstly - I switched my Garmin to km. Miles are fine when you're running 7mm. When you're running 10+ mm then it's a LONG time between beeps. It's also much easier for me to visualise 400m to the next beep than 0.35 of a mile. As I'm in Spain all the distances and the guidebook are in km.

Secondly - I switched to running 5km and walking 1km. With a "break" just 25-30 minutes running away (instead of 2 hours) I was much more focused with very few informal breaks (just photos and directions which I now sped up to just a few seconds).

These two simple tweaks helped me out away the hardest and longest day yet. I was always happy to start running because it was only 5k and I knew I could run 5k.

Especially as now I could play the mental games I've perfected from years on the track "First km is just warming up, second km you have to work, third km you're already halfway, fourth km is basically the end as the last one doesn't count, fifth km you're pretty much already finished."

Instead of looking at an intimidating battle it was easy and then by the end of the "block" I'd actually covered a free bonus km as well!

6km whilst seeming very manageable is actually quite a decent way and when looking at the day in blocks it suddenly seemed much easier. 1 block was frankly easy. 3 blocks was nothing to get to lunch and on a normal day I'd be finishing not much after 5.

Blocking. It's a thing.

The break also helped psychologically as I was still covering distance (and by getting a full 3.1 miles in without breaks I was way ahead of where I would have been previously) but the 10 minutes walking gave me time to play with my phone, get water in me and massage quickly any site areas on the move.

Today was still a tough day at points though. I was worried about a groin pull first thing but it only affected downhills and when I took them a touch easier (I'd been flinging myself down then previously) I was pain free. 

The hills were substantial. Not quite as continuous but they were big. Today was meant to be a long day but it ended extra long. I was following an alternative route which is a touch longer and over coastal trails. It was great but hard work.  Unfortunately I was meant to come off it and jog down into town at the end. Instead I kept on it and ended up with an extra 4-5km of the toughest hills I'd had yet. As you reached the bottom of a switch back it then climbed again!

Even with my blocking I wasn't happy to have already run my distance for the day and still looking down on the town from the cliff with no drop down in sight.

So. A good day (I saw a little sun! ) but a tough one. Tomorrow should be much shorter and easier as a sort of rest day. Though with the new run/walk strategy both significantly raising my average pace and mentally making it easier I should fly through it!


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Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.